Hello! It’s been a while since I last posted on here. One year to be exact, when I shared the great news that I was starting a new job. Here I am one year later with some updates. I love working at TDF. I am so honored to work for an organization whose mission I am so passionate about, making theatre accessible to all. I could go on and on about all the wonderful opportunities I have had over the past year from raising money for TDF’s various programs which I’m so passionate about (including education programs, one of which was started by Wendy Wasserstein) or throwing off a successful gala honoring Kinky Boots. The real reason for this update, however, is to share news with you about my personal life. Seven months ago, I was diagnosed with hearing loss, and two weeks ago I got my first pair of hearing aids.
Let me go back for a second. Since I can remember, whenever I was listening to music using headphones, people around me would tell me to turn it down (since they could hear it, even from across the room). When I did turn it down I couldn’t understand/ hear the lyrics and it was frustrating. I didn’t think much of this, until I started missing words in social settings and at work. At first it was a word here or there and again nothing that would bother me. Around nine months ago I noticed it was affecting my work and social life. It wasn’t until my boss point blank asked me “do you not hear what we’re saying?” that I realized it was time to get this checked out. I went and got a hearing test done and was told I had mild hearing loss, but only in my left ear. They told me because it was mild, there was nothing they could do. They advised that I look people in the eyes when speaking, avoid noisy situations where it was hard to hear individuals speaking and come back in six months for another hearing test. I was open with my coworkers, but I was still left frustrated when the suggestions they had given me were not helping.
In addition to work and social settings, I discovered this mild hearing loss was affecting me at the theatre. I was missing dialogue and sometimes missing key moments of the show. Then one day I decided I would take action, I picked up an assistive listening device. It was the best decision I could have made. Finally, I could hear clearly at the theatre. Halleluiah. Fast forward six months later when I had my follow up hearing test. Surprise, my hearing had decreased and now was noticeable in both ears. Their suggestion—keep looking people in the eyes when they speak and come back in another six months for another hearing test. Are you serious? I felt lost and confused. I decided to get another opinion. I made an appointment with an audiologist. I went in and had another hearing test, however unlike the previous hearing tests, this one had a section where a noisy like office scenario was played with someone speaking and having to repeat back what they were saying. It was impossible! The audiologist went over my results with me and said while the hearing loss was mild, where I was suffering was in the processing people speaking in noisy scenarios and could only understand things in louder dBs. Since this was affecting my everyday life, action needed to be taken…. Hearing aids…. And A HUGE PRICETAG (even after insurance)! Holy moly! Then divided into monthly payments it was still enormous. But there was finally a solution! Despite being extremely nervous about making those payments I felt for the first time I was being heard (no pun intended). I shared the information with my parents and asked if there was a way to divide the payments to make them more affordable. I wish I could say they were on board, but they weren’t. “You need another opinion” …. WHAT?! I was furious. But I knew the only way to get their support was to do what they wanted. So, I went to another doctor and had my THIRD hearing test within a week. Surprise! Mild hearing loss, but where it was most noticeable was in processing. Solution—hearing aids. The doctor told me that while it is mild she has seen huge success in other patients with mild hearing loss and it decreases the pace of losing your hearing. They gave me their prices which were the exact same as the audiologist, but the audiologist’s package came with a longer trial period and warranty.
All that said I ended back at the audiologist’s office and got fitted for hearing aids. I can’t compare it to anything, but I have moments where I hear things that I haven’t heard in years. For example, did you know fridges make noise? I also compare how I heard people speak before I had hearing aids to Charlie Brown’s teacher going “blah blah blah”. I’m only two weeks in and still adjusting them to figure out how to use them best, but already I have noticed a huge change and I am forever grateful.