Did you know that over half of the people who need hearing aids don’t wear them? There are several factors that contribute to that – the expense, having hearing aids that aren’t adjusted correctly, uncomfortable ear molds issues, denial about hearing loss, etc. But one of the common reasons why people don’t wear their hearing aids is that they feel embarrassed and self conscious about them.
There is still a lot of stigma attached to hearing loss and wearing hearing aids. Think about it – how many ads for hearing aids have you seen that point out how the hearing aid is so small no one has to know you’re wearing it? Why does it matter if anyone can see it? The message is that hearing loss is something to hide, something to be ashamed of. You don’t want to wear your hearing loss for all the world to see – people will treat you differently.
That’s certainly how I felt when I got my first set of hearing aids. I felt self-conscious about them. I was still trying so hard to deny that I had hearing loss at all that wearing these big instruments felt like a big neon sign – something is different about me. Something is wrong.
It didn’t help that the hearing aids were not adjusted as well to my hearing loss as they should have been. Usually, when you get a new set of hearing aids, you go through several fittings to get the settings adjusted to your hearing needs. It’s a process. It takes time, and patience, and time to learn to process the way the world sounds through the new instruments. I didn’t know this. I had my first fitting, and off I went… and certain sounds were painful. Others were distorted. And they felt like giant stigmas attached to my head. So… I didn’t wear them, most of the time. And when I did wear them, I tried to keep them inconspicuous. (Then they were eaten by a cat, but that’s a different story)
As I’ve slowly come to accept my deafness, and myself, I stopped feeling embarrassed about my hearing aids. Really, they’re just high-tech versions of my glasses. I am a whole, perfectly imperfect person, and now I celebrate my ears.
I was told that these are the last set of hearing aids I will be able to wear, so I decided to have fun with them. When my audiologist told me I was getting Oticon Safari SP’s (Super Power), I pictured them in tiny red capes, doing good deeds. I opted for bright purple, to feel like I’d added some of my personality to them. I claimed them as part of myself. And now, I wear them with pride. They’re my SuperPower gadgets, and I’m the most awkward deaf ninja you’ll ever meet.
Do you wear your ears with pride?
I have been inspired by LipReading Mom’s Show Me Your Ears campaign to share my hearing aids. What are you waiting for? Go show off your ears, too!