Singing hearing loss from the rooftops
A ListenIn Story: BHA Brisbane ListenIn stories tell of the experiences and challenges people with hearing loss face and how they overcome them. If you’d like to share your experiences and show other people they are not alone, get in touch today.
Gail is like so many of us with hearing loss. At first, she ignored the signs until others made her realise she couldn’t push them aside any longer. Along her hearing loss journey, however, she did what many of us think we can’t. She joined a choir.
It was Gail’s family who first told her she should get her hearing tested.
“Of course, I thought they were wrong,” she says, “I didn’t think I had a hearing loss.”
But after ongoing pushing and increased frustration, Gail relented and went and had her hearing tested.
Her audiologist diagnosed mild to moderate sensorineural hearing loss.
“I honestly didn’t realise I had a hearing loss. It came as a shock to me. But I came to understand it was a gradual loss that I never noticed. I just thought everyone was mumbling,” Gail says.
Gail’s hearing loss is now at a level where she can usually hear some noise but has difficulty understanding what others are saying to her.
With her hearing loss came the daily struggles many face. Concentrating hard to ensure you don’t miss anything, getting fatigued from focusing all the time, missing important information, and others saying “I told you that before!”
Gail mentions other daily interactions that make her hearing loss difficult.
“I feel tense in waiting rooms awaiting my name to be called. What if I miss it?” Gail explains.
“Some have been good, though. My dentist now has a note on my file, so they all know I have difficulty hearing when I am at my appointment. And my GP and staff are also good at this.”
“I am always on high alert when walking. I don’t want to miss a cyclist coming up behind me and not hearing their bell,” she continues.
Hearing aids help
Gail now wears hearing aids daily, but she explains it took her a while to be fitted.
“I was in denial for a few years.”
“I didn’t want to get hearing aids. But it came to a point I was missing so much, and I was getting so frustrated I had to get hearing aids.”
“I was determined to make it work. The audiologist was great and adjusted the devices gradually over time. It was so wonderful to hear noises again that I had not realised I was missing.”
Gail has now been wearing hearing aids for about five years.
“I put them on when I get out of bed, and I don’t take them off again until bedtime. Without hearing aids, I find it difficult to understand and know what is happening around me.”
Seeking out valued experiences
Interestingly it was also five years ago that Gail decided to join a choir.
“It was actually after getting hearing aids that I decided to join a choir. I had always enjoyed singing in choirs when I was young, and when my daughter joined the choir Musica, she urged me to come along.”
“I must admit that it took me a while to build up the courage and attend. I was concerned about my hearing loss and how that would affect my ability to participate”, Gail says.
“But I wanted to know I could do this and be able to sing again with a choir.”
Eventually, Gail took the plunge. She had heard great things about the choir and the choir director, but after attending a concert Musica put on, she definitely wanted to be part of this community choir.
“I feel like joining the choir has been a blessing. To be able to hear the sound we make as a choir is so rewarding and confirms that I made the right decision of joining the choir, even with my hearing loss,” Gail says.
But it’s not just the joy of singing in the choir that Gail has found again.
“I have met wonderful people, who I would not have met if I had not joined the choir. It also helps me mentally and keeps my brain active. I am learning all the time,” she says.
Giving back to the community
Gail also gives back to the hard-of-hearing community.
“I attend the Logan BHA Community Connect hearing loss support group. We all have hearing loss, and all enjoy the social get-togethers once a month.”
The Logan group is one of several BHA hearing loss support groups run by community volunteers.
“We all support each other and our partners. We talk about hearing loss, how that impacts us, our families, and other interests. It’s great to know that I am not alone in trying to deal with hearing loss.”
She believes a national awareness campaign about hearing loss would help many in her situation.
“If more people understood what day-to-day life was like with hearing loss, I’m sure we would see huge improvements in understanding and improvements to accessibility for people like me.”
Gail continues to work hard at hearing everything and everyone around her, her family, friends and at work.
She doesn’t want to miss a thing.