The long-anticipated day has arrived. Kalina has her first hearing aid! The whole hearing loss thing has been different from what I anticipated. Kalina has no scarring or damage to her right ear, it simply doesn’t work well- just like a child (or person) who needs glasses. Once the doctors ruled out a physical issue needing medical care, we were on our own (financially and otherwise) to seek out a hearing aid.
We decided to go with a local hearing clinic to get her hearing aid. We could have gone down to Seattle Children’s Hospital, but that seemed like a bit of overkill and I knew the wait time would be longer. The experience has been so weird. After the CT scan to rule out a medical issue, someone from the ENT’s office called and said, “Kalina’s CT scan came back normal so you’re free to get her a hearing aid if you choose to go that route” and she began to hang up. I had to stop her and ask where and how we might get a hearing aid for her. In the end, I went with the hearing clinic associated with the ENT’s office because they have her audiogram and records.
Then we had the snafu I posted about on Facebook. Monday when we went in for the fitting the lady was rude and condescending to Kalina. Once the hearing aid was on and calibrated Kalina said it kept turning on and off…the third time she said it the lady said, “Why? Why do you keep saying it’s turning on and off?” in a very rude tone…once she took it out and checked it, sure enough, it had a faulty wire that was shorting out (it was soon replaced and fine). Instead of having the attitude that “wow, here is a twelve-year-old girl getting her first ever hearing aid, this is probably a sensitive time for her” she was clearing irritated and upset that Kalina was being “difficult”. Not cool, my friends, not cool.
Her current hearing aid has a two-year warranty, and I can guarantee we will purchase her next hearing aid somewhere else.At any rate, yesterday was Kalina’s first full day with her hearing aid. The thing that has surprised and delighted her the most is the ability to hear music in both ears! She has adjusted very, very quickly. She has gone from being irritated at so much noise, to barely noticing. We are so excited for her!
I’ve thought about Kalina’s hearing loss a lot lately. As I said before, I took Kalina into the doctor as a toddler because we were concerned about her hearing. After a quick exam of her ears and listening to her talk, the doctor said everything was fine. As she grew and her speaking progressed, I all but forgot about our early concerns.
Let me state up front, I fervently wish her hearing loss would have been discovered and treated earlier, for her sake. But I also know that ten years ago, learning that my toddler had hearing loss would have been devastating. I would have been filled with worry about her future…would the hearing loss be progressive? Would she need to learn sign language? Would she go deaf? Was anything else “wrong”? Learning about it at twelve means we know she can (and will continue) to learn and develop. Her hearing loss isn’t a disability as much as an inconvenience. One which can now be treated with modern technology.
And one more thought…learning about hearing loss in a child after going through heart surgery and several life-threatening illnesses with another makes it seem pretty minor in the big scheme of things. My reflections on Kalina’s hearing loss reminded me of a friend I met at the Ronald McDonald House in Houston. Her first child was born with some pretty serious (but not life-threatening) defects, including missing an eye. She shared how devastated she was….years later her second child was born with a life-threatening defect and she was now pregnant with her third child, born with the same life-threatening defect as her second…she said, “Looking back, I can’t believe how upset I was…it was only an eye…”
I am not in a place where I can look at Apollo’s heart defect and suffering though a lens of “lessons I’ve learned” or “blessings it has brought”. But I can fervently say it has completely altered my priorities and perspective on life.
As I read this, I thought of Oliver Sacks’s comments on a patient whose sight was restored through surgery after many years of blindness. After an initial euphoria, the patient lapsed into depression. Sight itself–the long-desired sight–was disorienting. For this particular patient, an old man who had been blind for much of his life, the ability to see proved too much for him. When the illness reasserted himself and he gradually lost vision again, he felt more comfortable.
I don’t anything so dramatic would happen and I hope this story does not sound too depressing. I do think that regaining hearing–or amplifying hearing for the first time–must be stressful, sometimes traumatic. I remember a relative of mine getting a new a new hearing aid and finding forks and knives being place on the table excruciatingly loud–even when she adjusted her hearing aid every which way. There’s a story that I believe you, and maybe Kalina would like, from the Betty MacDonald Mrs. Piggle Wiggle series–the collection called _Mrs. Piggle-Wiggle’s Magic_–see “the Thought-You-Saiders Cure.” I bet you have these already, but if not, believe your whole family would enjoy the series of four, starting with Mrs. Piggle-Wiggle
Reminds me of my first pair of glasses. My vision had gotten quite bad, but it was awhile before I realized it and said something to my parents. When I put on that first pair I could SEE. I could see leaves on trees and read street signs. The world was such a marvel at times :).
What Samantha said was the same for me. I was 13yrs old when I got my first pair of glasses and still remember I could read street signs.
About the cost of hearing aids. My mom has them in both ears and when I found out how much they cost, I told her to forget leaving me her jewelry, leave me her hearing aids.
Renee. about the rudeness of the lady. Did you have a lot of children with you when you went in? I have only five kids,(all adults now) but when pregnant with our last one sometimes I got the feeling medical personal were looking down at me for having so many children.
No, I just had Kalina.
What a beautiful young lady, inside and out. Sorry to hear about the poor service and mistreatment she received 🙁
Me too – the staff sounded really rude.
On the bright side, it is a good color!
I like the colour Kalina! Here’s a book that might be helpful in explaining the hearing aid to your younger kids. http://www.phonak.com/content/dam/phonak/b2b/Pediatrics/Junior_Care_Kits/028_0284_02_Oliver_gets_hearing_aids.pdf
Ditto on the glasses. I got my first pair at 19, and I had needed them since about 5th grade. It was a whole new world. My niece has had hearing loss all her life, 80% in one ear, 20% in the other. At age 28 she got her first hearing aids. Two years later she still gets overwhelmed and has to turn them off at times. I’m so glad Kalina is adapting quickly.
Hooray, Kalina! It looks GREAT!
UGH about the hearing clinic personnel. Sorry. I went with the same place- because it seemed easiest- but after my last few appointments there I have also considered going elsewhere….
Stacy, I’m glad to know it wasn’t just us…I’ve not had a 100% pleasant experience there yet. Like I said, next time I will find somewhere else, but it will hopefully be a couple of years.
So sorry you had to deal with the rude lady. I have noticed lately a lot of people do not have or use empathy anymore. As for another place to go for hearing aids, Costco has a hearing center and sells them at a reasonable cost I’ve been told.
I hope you complained (preferably in writing ) to both the clinic you went to and the ENT office. It may be this is a problem people higher up don’t know about and would want to fix.
Ugh, sorry about the unpleasant experience, but HURRAY for Kalina, her HA, and hr adjustment to bilateral hearing 😀 !!!
One of these days I’ve got to get that extra (back-up) aid to you. And I have a bag full of batteries, too!
Yes. We need to get together and meet in person!
I am currently writing my inaugural lecture as a professor in deaf education at the University of Manchester in England. I would like to ask your permission to use one of your wonderful pictures of Kalina holding her hearing aid. I am so sorry you had a poor experience and hope things improve she is clearly a delightful young lady. I would be happy to send you the slide I want to put it on or of course the whole thing if you are interested but that would have to be after 30th September when I deliver it. I can certainly let you know my main messages if that helps!
Just to let you know we use the term deaf in the UK to mean any degree of deafness.
Professor in the education of deaf children.
I would be happy to let you use one of the photos of Kalina for your slideshow! The photos on the site are web-sized, if you need the full-sized image, let me know.I would also enjoy seeing the slide you end up using. You can contact me directly at: bergerondozen (at) yahoo (dot) com.
Thank you for asking,