What Did You Say? An Unexpected Journey Into the World of Hearing Loss
Imagine having your head immersed in a whirlpool or even standing in the middle of a rain forest where the sounds of the water flow and the air is dank and damp. Imagine listening to a concert where the music is so loud it’s deafening and the end result leaves holding your ears plus a huge headache. So many of us take our five senses for granted never realizing how each one plays a vital role in our every day lives helping us to function. Teaching her new class, hospital pharmacist, Monique Hammond would experience something during her early evening session that would alert her to the fact that something was wrong yet what she had no idea. Trying to focus on the questions asked by her students and not wanting to give away that she was having serious problems hearing what they were trying to say, she soon realized that something was clouding the hearing in her left ear. It was almost as if a huge fog descended upon her left ear, one that was so thick that the end result would change her life forever. Popping in her ears, almost a thumping feeling, strange sensations and then what follows would definitely frighten anyone.
Relating the problem to her husband his immediate response was to seek medical help but Monique thought that she might have a virus or some type of infection and opted for waiting until the following morning to contact her own doctor. But, sometimes circumstances play their own hand and all too often what we do not want to do we have no choice but to as her condition became grave, her ability to stand was hampered and she no longer had the capacity to hold foods or liquids. Despite her own feelings against going to the ER she had no choice. With a rapid response by the ER team and her own intuitiveness Monique would hopefully learn at least something that would help her understand what was wrong. Tests, MRI’s, blood tests, questions, not many direct answers and one young doctor named Dr. Todd who went above and beyond what most ER doctors do, she was led in the right direction. Not only that but when she was told she could go home and would be discharged she wisely insisted seeing an ENT specialist.
Throughout the book we hear the author’s innermost thoughts, fears and her frustrations. But, she illuminates the reader with her detailed and precision like research, her new found understand and realizations of many definitions and areas related to hearing loss that most people would never touch on when meeting with a hearing specialist. As she takes you through her long and arduous journey to finding answers to her problem we learn about the inner workings of the ear, she defines outer, inner and middle ear and includes diagrams to help readers with fine-tune their own understanding. The author also includes the definitions of audiologist, their job description, and audiogram and ENT specialist. The authors long and hard look at many causes of hearing loss which everyone, including young adults and teens need to be more cognizant of starting with loud noises, some illnesses that can add to your problems and much more. Surviving tinnitus can be a feat within itself as she devotes an entire chapter to help readers understand tinnitus and Ménière’s.
The second half of the book or Part 2 is devoted to discussing the many different types of tests needed in order to diagnose hearing loss. It also includes extensive and detailed research into the anatomy of the ear, how the ear works, the Ototoxic Substances, Noise-Induced Hearing Loss and the training and treatments she had to undergo to regain her balance. Chapter 21 focuses on balance and Chapter 23 Meniere’s Disease, which my aunt had and can be extremely debilitating.
Tinnitus is the first chapter in Part three and after her ear incident the author was readmitted to the hospital for tests to control her nausea and correct her blood electrolytes. But, what must have been really frightening was during that stay in the hospital she began to hear an occasional strange noise in her deaf left ear. The volume of the noise did increase and the end result would be more hearing loss. Unfortunately, as related to her by Dr. Todd she was developing subjective tinnitus. The remainder of the chapter goes into this area in detail. As we learn that Dr. Todd did inform the author that many people with “hearing loss come down with Tinnitus.” This is a very detailed and well-researched chapter, which includes information on tracking and tinnitus signal, followed by Chapter 25, which incorporates Tinnitus Types and the Importance of a Medical Evaluation. But, the author explains how she managed to live with it, her reactions and attitude and why after so many medical checks they failed to identify “underlying treatable or fixable cause, all tinnitus suffers face.” The challenge of dealing with the noises can definitely impair the quality of a person’s life. She explains how to deal with these noises by becoming as “phantom-neutral in our responses as possible.” She continues with many different methods of how she deals with it including a most revealing lecture. The hardest part is accepting what she could not change, trigger management and improving her diet. She continues to explain how to manage noise and very important, avoiding total silence. Chapter 27 is most important as she reveals hearing aids and tinnitus relief and how she sought out professional tinnitus management.
Part four does focus on hearing instruments, styles and technology sales. Imagine attending your first hearing aid class for five college credits and then learning that there is no cure for hearing loss, amplification and sensitivity issues, real-ear measures and the importance of changing your lifestyle. Like any novel or mystery some things you need to solve and learn for yourself so I will leave the rest of part four to you to uncover the secrets about hearing devices and how she managed to choose the right one and even more. Part Five includes Assistive listening devices and speech reading with a specific focus in Chapter 35 on Sign Language and Speech Reading. Chapters 36 and 37 focuses on Hearing Device Implants and Chapter 38 Cochlear Implants followed by Bone –Anchored Hearing Aids in Chapter 39.
Part 7 is quite compelling as the author reveals her feelings and emotions regarding her hearing loss. Sharing her emotional roller coaster her feelings and the changes she had to make the author relates to readers the emotional consequences attached to hearing loss and the challenges that accompany them. Included in this chapter are the consequences she and others face with sudden hearing loss, the fact that she often has to strain to hear and why at times she misunderstands what is said. Conversations between people are hard and no matter how interesting she finds it hard to keep it straight and often trying to make a point can be tiring. She includes the Contorted Path to Healing, never denying the medical facts about her condition, finding a new reference point and the hardest acceptance and peace within. Once again like a mystery novels of those without a specific ending that might have a sequel you will learn about her communication challenges only by reading Chapter 41 and getting the answers yourself about how she reconnected with society and much more. Chapter 42 will help anyone who is experiencing hearing loss learn about associations, organizations and support groups. The appendixes that follow are invaluable are you will learn. They include numerous checklists that will not only help you to prepare for a doctor’s visit but will you prepare your questions, give you some guidelines as to what to expect and hopefully make your journey easier should you be experiencing hearing loss. But, for everyone else this is a super resource that will help if a family member is experiencing any type of hearing problem, children that might have wax in their ears or are constantly speaking too loud, this is an invaluable resource to tell you what your first step is and what you need to do to be able to say: I KNOW WHAT YOU SAID and hopefully will not have to keep asking: WHAT DO YOU SAY? References and glossary terms are added in and the author’s journey is really quite vividly described and as she describes her journey you the reader will experience much of what she went through along with her and will hopefully learn from her experience. A must have resource.
Fran Lewis: reviewer