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Wait… what?

12.08.2015

I am losing my hearing, slowly by surely. Last year, at my last check up, my general practitioner recommended I consult a hearing specialist because my right eardrum cartilage was showing strong signs of erosion – I had multiple nasty ear infections as a child, and she thinks this may be linked.

I don’t know why, but I’ve always brushed off health issues – especially the scary ones. Almost as if by ignoring them, they would go away. The same thing happened for my first mammogram. At the first check up, some dark spots appeared in the reading, and I got called in for a second screening. I almost lost it, ready to cancel the appointment. Why? Because the fear of facing something too scary for me to handle was bigger than the fear of not knowing. Almost like a cheated wife that refuses to see the obvious signs.

Anyway, back to my hearing issue. It’s been bothering me for a bit more than two years now. At home, I have my girls repeat three times a sentence – especially if there is ‘parasite’ noise [TV on, background music, other people talking at the same time], or if someone talks to me from another room. And I get the ‘rolling’ eyes, or the ‘never mind‘ by the third attempt. Outside of home, I kindly ask to repeat, and then sometimes, by the third time, I pretend I heard. But I didn’t. I give a stupid smile or make a polite little giggle, hoping that this was the reaction expected from me.

French By Design

And then, the other day, on my way back from a fabric store, I stopped at the mall to pick up a sandwich at the food court. There was a lot of background parasite noise, and the lady at the counter repeated at least five times if I wanted a side salad or a side of chips. I just couldn’t hear her. Again and again. She got mad – because she had a strong accent – and she probably thought that I couldn’t understand her broken English. I felt the tears coming in the back of my eyes, and finally, I said it : “I’m sorry, I have hearing loss, could you please repeat one last time?” in a trembling voice. Everyone in the line gave me the stare, that long, ugly, pity stare. And just like that, I became the hearing-impaired lady in the line. I fought hard not to start crying.

Why do we react like that to health issues, or to admitting our flaws? Why do we always have to look and appear perfect? Who set those rules in the first place? Which idiot is responsible for this – besides me?

French By Design

I have decided to take the matter into action, and schedule an appointment with a hearing loss specialist. It’s going to be hard for me to take the courage to do so, because it’s one step into admitting that I’m not as perfect as I’d like to be. It’s really ridiculous, because there is really nothing wrong with experiencing hearing loss. I just can’t figure out why I am reacting like this.

Do you react like me when facing scary news? Am I crazy? I’d love to hear [figure of speech] your thoughts. Peace and light. Xo, Si-

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28 comments

  • Sarah

    What a courageous post, Si! I’m sorry you’re experiencing this, amd I can relate. My knee has been bothering me for more than 2 years now, I know I need surgery on it, bit I keep postponing. No idea why! :/

    • French By Design

      Oh no, one of my closest friends is dealing with similar knee issues and keeps postponing surgery; she’s in such pain tough, but is afraid of post surgery issues and recovery time. I really feel for you. Thank you so much for sharing your personal issue with us. Hug, Si-

  • Anna

    Oh no I’m sorry to hear about your hearing loss – it must be so frustrating, especially if people think you’re being rude!
    I really need to address my dyspraxia… I self diagnosed about a year ago but haven’t seen anybody about it. My whole life I’ve been ‘clumsy’; it took me years (long after everyone else) to learn to tie my laces, ride a bike and drive a car. People get frustrated with me because they think I’m careless, but I don’t want to admit I have a problem or see someone about because that sort of becomes too real.

    Anna
    http://thecornishlife.co.uk

    • French By Design

      Dang, this sounds awful! I never heard of dyspraxia, and it sounds like it bothers you in your every day life. If I wasn’t such a chicken regarding my own health, I’d tell you to go consult asap, but look who’s talking ;) Good luck to you Anna.

  • Lydia

    I know EXACTLY what you mean because that’s how I feel at every single mammogram visit. I push the appointment as much as possible, it’s ridiculous, I know, and I have absolutely no idea why either. Thanks for posting such an inspiring post! It’s good to read that I’m not alone with my health nonsense. Lydia-

    • French By Design

      Ah, mammograms, after that first episode and scare, I’m never comfortable going to these check ups either. Thanks Lydia, I feel relieved to read that I’m not the only one with this very strange reaction and behavior. Maybe we’re just normal… Xo, Si-

  • Michael

    It’s just us. Trying to be perfect for our relatives, for our friends around..for people we are passing day by day in shops, streets etc. We just don’t want to show to others that we are not 100% perfect so we can’t loose a degree from the imaginary scale of being perfect.
    I have the same experience with my eyes..trying to avoid the doctor, the situations, that I can’t imagine wearing glasses and admit that I can start loosing my sight.
    Stay strong..people around, relatives, knows your inner beauty and you are perfect for them, despite all the imperfections.

    Michael
    http://www.ontheleaf.net

    • French By Design

      Oh, but you’d look sooo good with glasses Michael! Go, go, go! And don’t forget to take an IG selfie for us ;-)
      Thank you so much for your always kind words.

  • Andrea Jane

    When I was in my mid thirties I was diagnosed with Cholesteatoma (a benign tumor in my middle ear) and had to have it and all the little bones in my right ear removed. I had to wait six months for the follow up operation to replace the bones so in the mean time I was completely deaf in that ear. And even now with the “faux” bones in place I still do not hear well out of that ear. My ENT suggested we look into hearing aids and he might as well have suggested I wander around with a huge sign proclaiming I’m old and infirm! That was my immediate reaction – hearing aids just seemed like an old person thing. I know it is dumb but I can’t get past it. So I just do the thing where you plaster a big fake smile and pretend you understand because you don’t want to ask a fourth time for someone to repeat themselves. I really need to book that appointment too….

    • French By Design

      “So I just do the thing where you plaster a big fake smile and pretend you understand”, this made me laugh out loud because this is exactly what I do. It doesn’t always work though, sometimes, I do that stupid face and it was an open question… Awkward moments.
      Thank you Andrea for sharing your personal journey; relieved to read that I’m not alone here. You probably live too far, otherwise, we’d have booked an appointment together, followed by a glass of bubbly to celebrate our bold move! Xo, Si-

  • Nanci Cartwright

    I started losing my hearing (high pitched hearing loss) in my forties. I’m sixty-four now. I put up with it until it got that I really needed to be able to hear what was going on in the meetings I attended at work. I could hear those close by but had to often guess about what was being said at the far end of the table. In my fifties I saved up almost $5,000 to buy really good, really small state of the art Oticon hearing aids. They are practically invisible behind the ear, with a clear wire and bud going inside the ear canal. They are almost ten years old and still going strong. Of course I don’t wear them all the time. I discovered at work (retired this year) in a cube environment, that I got distracted by being able to understand what others were saying in nearby cubes, so I kept them for meetings and for times I knew I’d be speaking with soft talking people and for situations, gatherings, when I needed to hear. The really good ones are able to muffle the background noise and focus more on direct hearing. I wear them for certain TV shows like Downton Abvey where talk is often soft. I wear them if I’m going to attend a knitting class or anywhere I know that I need or want to hear clearly. At first I always put them on in private but now I just whip out my little case, put in the tiny batteries if needed and put them on in plain site of everyone. It doesn’t bother me anymore. I had the hearing aids re-tuned this Spring before we moved west and the audiologist gave me the paper to give to any audiologist in the west, for the key to tuning them when I need to change them. Costs for hearing aids have come down and the technology has continued to improve. Buy the best you can afford, ones that you won’t mind wearing and that have the best technology that can be updated as your hearing changes. You won’t be sorry. Unfortunately, as we age, we often encounter health situations we never expected to happen. Once we have time to grieve over the loss of our young, strong and perfectly healthy bodies, it’s best to deal with whatever the issue is and work with the situation to achieve the best outcome. Best of luck to you and praise today’s technology and fashionable hearing aids!

    • French By Design

      Thank you Nancy for this precious information. My mom just got a hearing device and she did mention that it gets some getting used to. I will follow your advice if the MD tells me that I need to wear a device. Yes to nano technology! Xo, Si-

  • Jessica

    Ugh makes me wonder I’ve been struggling with MAYBE I am losing it. I don’t know if it’s people talking softer, mumbling, just me or a combination of those things. I should finally just go to the doctor like you did.

    http://www.citycomfortsdc.com/holiday-hostess/

    • French By Design

      Ha, but I still haven’t! Planning on calling for an appointment though, all of you guys are giving me courage wings!

  • lorraine

    i think we all do the same thing Si. As a landscaper for 30 years i have been very lucky to have older clients who generously and graciously impart their wisdom. My 93 year old client recently told me (as my husband is losing his hearing and also ignoring it) …don’t put it off! The brain actually forgets to hear! One of her biggest regrets was that she ignored it, put it off and waited too long to get her hearing aids. We all know how brave you are just doing the blog…so feel the fear and go do it!!

  • Sandra Fazzino

    Brava, Si!!!! I’m so proud of you for opening up about the topic of health and the fear of taking action to take care of ourselves. I know a few people who wear hearing aids and had they not told me, I never would have noticed! This year, I was put off by my OBGYN during my annual visit. She dismissed everything I told her and it really pissed me off. I know there’s something going on that needs attention, and am still struggling to find the words and make a new appt with her or someone else. For me, it’s a trust issue and a battle of “I know what’s going on, but have no idea what healing will look like and damn, that’s one more thing for me to pay attention to in my busy life and one more confrontation I don’t have the energy to address.” And I fainted during my first mammogram. So, yes, it takes mad courage to admit our humanness. Our superwoman capes are only so powerful. ; ) xo

    • French By Design

      You are absolutely right, girlfriend! If you feel that your current doctor dimisses your intuition and health concerns, find another one that won’t! Xo, Si-

  • Yvonne Cornell

    Si, I can totally relate to your struggle to not appear frail, sick, old and less than your best. Less than YOU as you know yourself. It’s a self-alienating journey and it sucks. To say the words out loud makes it too real, really REAL. And then we have to acknowledge its truth and accept it as part of who we are now. Kudos to you for shouting it out loud here to all of us!
    Two years ago, when I was diagnosed with breast cancer, I could not find the courage to say “I have breast cancer” out loud to anyone. Since my recovery, the best bit is the compassion I’ve gained for other people, older people, physically pained people, and the ordinary Jane fighting a personal struggle that has no visible calling card so she has to cry out in pain “I’m sorry, I have hearing loss, could you please repeat one last time?”
    I lost a breast, but gained a bigger insight. As you make your way through this journey, shout out to us anytime on your blog. And know that in 20 years, your daughters will read this post again and it will help them through a challenging personal moment.
    A favorite motto passed along to me by a survivor: “Be a warrior, not a worrier.”

    • French By Design

      Oh, Yvonne, what a brave testimonial you are sharing here with us! I had no idea you had to go through such a difficult ordeal! I’m glad to read that you are in remission, but sad that because of society’s stigmas, you did not feel, like many of us, sharing what you were going through and had to deal it with it only with the support on your intimate circle. Thank you for your inspirational message, it resonates deeply in me. Xo, Si-

  • Sim

    I know exactly what you mean. I have a tooth that needs to be extracted (and is almost falling apart) by a surgeon. I don’t even (want to) talk about it. It’s terrible. I’ll have no teeth left to chew with (that’s not true but it’s what I tell myself).
    And ofcourse I grapple for my reading glasses a few times a day since a year. Not happy about that either.
    I had a mamogram once but I didn’t really have a problem with that (after having lots of people do stuff with my breast for an entire afternoon), pap-smears though… Yuk.

    • French By Design

      Haha, I hear you on the pap-smear, yet, after my scare, I’d do 10 pap-smears before one mammogram!
      And the ‘I’ll have no teeth left to chew with’ made me laugh so hard! Xo, Sim!

  • Becky

    My hearing loss has become noticeable in the last 18 months or so. I ignored it until a conversation with my son. My kids did the same thing as yours–and ‘whatever’ sucks because you want to hear them and what they have to say. And that is what I told him. His response was-why don’t you do something about it? So I did (or about 3-4 months after he said it)–my appointment with the ENT is Friday afternoon and I am very nervous about what they are going to tell me.

    • French By Design

      A big massive yay to you Becky! You inspire me to take the next step and consult. Hope the appointment goes well for you, and next time your son can’t hear you because he’s listening to music at the same time try “whatever!”, it annoys them so much! :-))

      • Becky

        Si, quick update–make an appointment and go! Both the technician who did the actual hearing test and the doctor were lovely and very informative. The actual test was maybe one of the most stressful things I have ever done but that was just me being neurotic. What I was told (and this is only me) was that my hearing was well within the normal range but the working of the ear is only part of “hearing” and there are brain issues as well (ability to filter out ambient noise, etc). The doctor gave me strategies and ideas of what I can work on but also ideas for my family to “modify their behaviour”, ie. quit mumbling, don’t talk to me from other rooms, etc.

  • Sparky

    Si, Thank you so much for this post. I, too was diagnosed with hearing loss in 1988 after living in Rome Italy for three months. I noticed that loud noises of the squeaking brakes on the buses in Rome hurt my ears and when we were at restaurants, I could not hear the conversation going on at our table. Sadly, the technician who issued the hearing exam when I returned home to the US, was rude when she told me that I had 80% hearing left. She behaved as if I had chosen to cause this to myself. I have avoided doing anything to address my hearing loss and sometimes friends have been annoyed with me when I ask them to repeat themselves. I understand your frustration and tears. I would really like to read your follow up, if you pursue aids for your hearing. Part of my avoidance is vanity, I admit. But I hope I don’t end up in a completely silent world due to my own stubborness. ;)

    • French By Design

      Oh, Sparky, I’m so sad to read this. You had enough courage to go consult, and this technician really did not help. Go consult someone else who will listen to you and support you through this journey. I am gathering all the courage I can find to set up an appointment, I will tell how it goes, once I go :/
      Thank you so much for sharing your journey with us Sparky! Love and much light your way.

  • Jenny

    I have otosclerosis and inner ear damage from mumps and meningitis as a baby. I know EXACTLY how you feel. I was diagnosed with the otosclerosis about five years ago as my hearing worsened. I’ve always struggled with my hearing but it got progressively worse in my 30s.

    I have had many hearing aids and kept pushing until I got some that really work for me. They are discreet and they make my life bearable. I can’t work without them – the office is a nightmare of parasitic noise! But it sucks and I wish I didn’t have to wear them.

    Nobody is perfect. At least hearing loss can be treated and we don’t feel strange about wearing glasses. It also gets easier to talk about it. Once you come more to terms with it, you’ll be able to discuss it more with people. It’s nothing to be ashamed of. xx