All posts by Gael Hannan

Changing Cochleas – Part 1: “Why a CI?”

It was time. On January 12, 2017, I received my cochlear implant (CI) at Sunnybrook Health Sciences Centre in Toronto. This was a huge step—one I had never expected to take in my lifelong pursuit of better communication.  

This article is the first in a series called “Changing Cochleas”. The series starts with my decision to have a cochlear implant and continues with the surgery experience and through the rehabilitation process.  

As a writer about hearing loss, the brand of my hearing aids has seldom been relevant to my writing. But unlike hearing aid manufacturers, cochlear implant organizations not only produce the technology but also play an important role in helping recipients successfully adjust to the implant. So, the story of my CI experience is also about the brand I chose, Cochlear. I know many people who have happily and successfully chosen to be implanted with other brands of CI technology.

What’s important is that we have all been given the opportunity for improved hearing—and took it.

Why A Cochlear Implant?

What is it like not to hear?  What lengths would you be prepared to go to hear, to hear well?

Please continue reading this post at HearingHealthMatters.org Better Hearing Consumer.

Stay tuned for Part 2:  “A Perfect 1 ½ Turns”

Ho, Ho, Ho, I’m a HoH!

Q:  At the start of every holiday season, what’s more common than cookie recipes and decorating ideas?

A:  Articles on how to survive the holiday season!

They fall like snowflakes on social media, these survival-blogs that offer advice on coping with the annual issues of season – loneliness, depression, finances, family dysfunction, grief—and hearing loss.

The last one is my particular specialty: I’m a HoH (hard of hearing). Along with other hearing loss writers, I create yearly Brace yourself, HoHs, here come the holidays!” pieces, including  A Hearing Loss Letter to SantaIt’s Me Again, Santa – The Lady with Hearing Loss, Happy Holidays for HoHs, and last year’s popular Cheat Sheet for Better Holiday Hearing.

Why do people with hearing loss need help with the holiday season?

Simple: the powerful emotions of the season can turn painful when we struggle to understand things that used to give us joy. Holiday dinners are a nightmare trying to figure out who’s saying what, parties are noisy and people talk with their mouth full, and our family and friends often forget about/ignore our needs in the heat of their own holiday merriment. For some people, it’s stressful just thinking about what lies ahead in the holidays. We grieve for the music that we no longer hear, or in quite the same way. It’s lonely in the midst of a large party with jumbled words swirling around you like a winter storm. And family dysfunction happens real fast when the people you love, who are supposed to know better, chat away easily, including you out.

To continue reading, this post, CLICK HERE.

“When You’re Going Through Hell…”

“…keep going.”

I came across this delicious bit of inspiration on a particularly bad day: tinnitus and hyperacusis were battling for supremacy inside my cranium.  It was hard not to focus on the hellish noise, but these words caught my attention. They even made me smile, because they reflected exactly how I felt at that moment—hellish. And ka-ching! Suddenly my coping mechanisms, which had been cowering behind one of the rocks in my head, kicked into gear.

I shifted my focus to something else, a simple trick which helps minimize my perception of the noise, but decided against another favorite trick—a glass of wine which often helps reduce sound—mainly because I prefer not to drink at 11am.

When you’re going through hell, keep going.  This wonderful quote is widely attributed to Winston Churchill but, according to research by Quote Investor (QI), Churchill didn’t actually write it.  A best guess, also according to QI, was found in a 1940’s issue of the “Christian Science Sentinel” journal of Boston, Massachusetts.

Someone once asked a man how he was. He replied, “I’m going through hell!” Said his friend: “Well, keep on going. That is no place to stop!” 

I liked that quote even better, because it struck my funny bone. But really, where was the poor guy supposed to go next?

Regardless of how long we’ve had our hearing-related problems, there are times when the frustration can drive us to our knees. We let our head fall into our hands and think, “Why me? Why isn’t there a cure? Do I have to keep doing this for the rest of my life?”  

The answers:  Who knows. They’re working on it.  Maybe. 

Personally, I think these answers are rather positive. Certainly less negative than: Because you deserve it. There will be, but probably after you’ve passed.  Yes. 

To continue reading the post in HearingHealthMatters. , CLICK HERE.

Speak Up, Doc, I’m Hard of Hearing (2016)

OK, people with hearing loss, think quickly now. What’s the most challenging aspect of going to the hospital, doctor, or dentist?

The eye exam where you can’t see the technician’s lips (or any face-part) because of the lights are inyour eyes?

The masked dentist who’s clearly trying to ask you something but you can’t say ‘pardon’with a mouth bolted open by metal bars?

The doctor in a rush who doesn’t make eye contact?

These situations are the tip of the ‘healthcare communication barriers’ iceberg. You’d think that doctors and other health professionals wouldknow, instinctively, or at least have beentaught, how to communicate with us. The truth is, they are just as likely to break our rules of engagement as any random, untrained person. What’s more, the average healthcare environment is usually not an accommodating one.

But we should never, ever, have our health compromised because of hearing loss!

While many health issues are beyond our control, we do have a say– and a responsibility – in creating effective communication. We can take the lead by identifying the problem (this examining area is too noisy for me to hear you well) and some solutions (speak up, Doc, and/or write it down!).

But as for the question about the most challenging medical situation – my vote goes to the nightmare of “Waiting for Your Name to be Called.”

Keep reading  this article on my site The Better Hearing Consumer ….

How to Talk to a Hard of Hearing Person (2016)

Conversing with a hard of hearing person is much easier if you, the ‘hearing’ person, are aware of the hearing loss.

If you don’t know that the person you’re talking to has a hearing problem, you’re forgiven (somewhat0 for looking off into space as you prattle on, or mumbling, or putting your hands in front of your mouth. It’s understandable that you might speak softly, indistinctly, or use unconnected phrases with no verbs. And how could you possibly know that your facial expressions and body language should match your actual words?

Here’s a little quiz.

What chance of success do these two people share?

A blindfolded, first-time archer trying to hit the bulls-eye from 100 feet.  

A hard of hearing person trying to understanding all your words when you’re facing away, chewing gum, or not moving your lips.

Answer: The success rate for both would be approximately zilch, nada, zero-ish.

Click here to read the entire post at the Better Hearing Consumer, HearingHealthMatters.org

 

When a HoH Meets a Pro

In the hearing loss world that I live in, there are HoHs and there are Pros:

HoH: Refers to a person who has hearing loss and who may also identify as hard of hearing, hearing-impaired, or hearing aid/cochlear implant user. (This term does not refer to all those affected by a person’s hearing loss, such as the moms and dads, life partners, children, and friends.)

Pro:  Refers to someone who works in a hearing healthcare field, such as an audiologist or hearing instrument specialist, but this category also can include an Ear, Nose & Throat doctor, hearing aid manufacturer, and/or an assistive technology sales rep.

 

…now that we’ve got that out of the way…

 

If you’re a HoH, you have most likely—hopefully—met a Pro by now. You made an appointment, walked through that door and sat down to discuss your hearing with this Pro. (Just asking, did you check out the certificates on the wall? You want to see something official hanging there, with more substance than proof-of-participation in an online hearing aid course.)

At every meeting with your Pro, there should be a two-way conversation, an exchange of information. The Pro will ask you questions about your lifestyle and your hearing loss has affected it. They’ll ask you—although not in these exact words—how you’re coping. She or he should explain the Big Picture of hearing loss—the things you need to know about your hearing that will help you move forward. At appropriate times, you’ll discuss different  communication strategies, including assistive technology.

Click here to read the complete blog at HearingHealthMatters!

How Much Fun Was That?

This past June,  I was honoured to help open and close the joint convention of the Hearing Loss Association of America and the International Federation of Hard of Hearing People.

"When Yer Talking to a HoH"
“When Yer Talking to a HoH”
MC at HLAA Closing Banquet
MC at HLAA Closing Banquet

 

I Made the Cover!

I am honoured to be featured in the September/October 2016 issue of the Hearing Loss Association of America’s magazine, Hearing Loss. My article, Hearing Loss Isn’t Funny,  takes a look at what people consider humorous about communication challenges – and what isn’t.  

Click here for the HLAA site.

I Got a Cochlea Tattoo!

If there’s one thing you don’t need when you have hearing loss, it’s another reminder that you have it. We get plenty of reminders throughout the day—every day—with sounds we can’t quite understand, people mumbling, and captioning that’s missing when we need it.

So why on earth would I mark my body with an inky rendition of a cochlea to remind me that I’m hard of hearing, a HoH?

For several reasons, actually.

To read the rest of this fun article, please click here to read it on HearingHealthMatters.

My Koruchlea
My Koruchlea