Warrington Disability Partnership

World Hearing Day 2024

Sunday 3rd March is World Hearing Day

World Hearing Day 2024 will focus on overcoming the challenges posed by societal misperceptions and stigmatizing mind-sets through awareness-raising and information-sharing, targeted at the public and health care providers. Within the UK there are over 75,000 people who use BSL and over 2,000,000 who use hearing aids.

One of team WDP has shared their lived experience of hearing loss:

My hearing loss journey began in my 30s. I have a degenerative muscle-wasting condition and I did not know that it was going to affect my hearing. It all began one morning when I woke up and thought I was underwater. It was like being in the bathtub when you duck your head underneath and you can’t hear properly. My initial thought was, “Oh what a pain, I’ve got a hearing infection’’. I was annoyed because I would have to pop into the Audiology department at Warrington Hospital to get the nurse to put some antibiotic goo down my ear.

Anyway, I arrived at the hospital and the nurse looked down my ear and said it was clear and there was no infection. Luckily, they had an audiologist available as there had been a cancellation, so I went in for a chat.

He carried out a couple of tests, and I honestly just thought it was something that could be fixed. It was frustrating because I couldn’t hear what he was saying, and I just felt like I was in another world. Eventually, it filtered through, and he said you have lost your hearing, it’s because of your condition and we will get you some hearing aids. Well, blow me, it was so matter of fact that I was quite shocked.

I felt angry, annoyed, frustrated, vulnerable and I thought he was joking for a while. I just couldn’t believe that I had gone from hearing perfectly to hearing everything with the volume on 2. The more it sank in the more devastated I felt.

I managed to find some solace in the fact they had offered me hearing aids, but I didn’t know what that would be like or whether it would work. It was a worrying time waiting for this to happen. I went to work as normal and I just couldn’t hear anybody, it was exhausting, I tried to make light of it with the usual jokes about being mutton Jeff and all the usual quips. Inside, I was broken and felt half the person that I originally was and I just couldn’t see an end to it.

My underlying condition was already taking things away from me slowly, but I can honestly say that the hearing loss felt like a bigger deal than anything else I had experienced.

Most people who knew me back then would have known me as somebody who was a bit of a chatterbox, but when my hearing went, I tried to avoid conversation. It’s funny, I also avoided quietly spoken people and they probably thought I didn’t like them, but it was far from the truth. I just couldn’t engage in conversation, because if I couldn’t hear what they were saying back to me or I said the wrong thing, it would have made me feel stupid. It battered my confidence.

There was light at the end of the tunnel, and I look back now and think, oh my goodness, I was such a drama queen LOL, I got my hearing aids and the volume came back on. I could hear everybody, I could hear the birds outside and I could enjoy music, and conversation and be that fun person I always was. It was completely liberating and I will never forget the day the audiologist put those hearing aids in my ears! It was fantastic!

I would say to anybody who struggles with their hearing, go to the audiologist and let them help you. It’s a different world and your confidence will rise to new heights.

Hearing is still a struggle for me in certain situations, but you will find that once people are aware, they are kind, understanding and patient. I have learnt it’s okay to say, “Sorry. can you say that again”, and it’s okay to get it wrong because nine times out of 10 you will laugh till your belly hurts!

A funny story for you, my hubby and I were out shopping and as we were walking along, I thought my husband said, “Did you want superglue’? I shouted back to him, “Now why on earth do you think I would want superglue? What the hell am I going to do with that”! He then caught up with me and pointed at Superdrug LOL He said, “You could put superglue under your armpits if you want love, but you might be better with deodorant if that’s what you wanted to get”!

It’s all fun and games and there will always be times in life when things go wrong. We have to find solutions and believe in the people that are there to help. It takes some navigating and lots of misunderstandings, but if you persevere, it turns out good in the end.