Why Hearing Loss Evolution and not Revolution
As many of you know, for the majority of my life, I was in the closet about my hearing loss – hardly telling anyone about it and pretending to hear when I didn’t. With one small step at a time, I came to terms with my hearing loss – definitely not overnight as in a “Revolution” but very slowly, as in an “Evolution”. That’s why I’m renaming my updated website to be released September 1, 2018, the Hearing Loss Evolution rather than the Hearing Loss Revolution.
Getting a cochlear implant forced me to take my first little step. The Cochlear implant gave me much better hearing but also a different type of hearing. When the company announced a local meeting, I jumped at the opportunity to go as I was hungry to learn more.
Aside from being in awe of my very first gathering of people with hearing loss, I was struck by a young man who seemed to be talking to himself with this device around his neck with a blue flashing light. I found out he wasn’t crazy. He was using an “assistive listening device,” a ClearSounds Quattro Bluetooth, which greatly enhanced his phone experience. As I was in sales, with so much of my job revolving around using the phone, the Quattro became my mainstay for many years. It also fostered my passion for assistive listening devices for difficult hearing situations.
In 2011, I went to the Cochlear Celebration in Florida, where Cochlear recipients gathered from all over the world – another amazing experience of many people with hearing loss. Then I learned about the Hearing Loss Association of America (HLAA). When I found out HLAA would be holding their national convention in Washington DC in June, 2011, I eagerly went; it was another opportunity to learn more about dealing with my hearing loss.
At the HLAA convention, there were even more people with hearing loss: people with hearing aids, cochlear implants, their friends and family, with one workshop after another dealing with hearing loss.
I randomly went to a workshop given by the person who would become my mentor, Dr. Sam Trychin. He specializes in the psychology of hearing loss and is a long time consultant to HLAA. Dr. Trychin casually mentioned that people with hearing loss often bluff or pretend to hear when they don’t.
BOOM! I couldn’t believe he said that. I thought I was the only one who did that. From that one sentence coupled with the rest of his presentation, I vowed to stop bluffing and even more, I wanted every one with hearing loss to learn that valuable lesson.
That’s why I created the first of many workshops: the Four Agreements of Hearing Loss, (later to be renamed Coming to Terms with Hearing Loss). In addition, I started a local HLAA chapter. I had no non-profit experience but was moved to do it; I wanted to share what I learned from Dr. Trychin.
It was only when I had a humiliating experience, that I realized I had more to learn about how to advocate. I’ll talk about that in the next installment of “ Why I renamed my website Hearing Loss Evolution not a Revolution.”