This weekend I've been reading Maeve Binchy's new book Heart and Soul about a clinic in Dublin set up to help those with cardiac failure. Immediately I started dreaming about a similar setup for people newly diagnosed with hearing loss.
Here are some quotes from the book that I've altered by inserting hearing loss where the author was speaking of cardiac failure:
"What it [the community] needs is a good positive system set up, something that will go on helping people to make the most of their lives after the initial setback of hearing loss."
"Why do you call it hearing loss?" "Because that's what their ears are doing: failing to work at the optimum levels."From my own experience I know that being diagnosed with a permanent hearing loss is a blow to one's psyche, even if there was a suspicion that something might be wrong. Understanding one's hearing loss and explaining it to friends and family is also difficult. It's not as though one has lost the ability to hear completely! But realizing one doesn't hear at an "optimum level" as Binchy put it does have an impact on one's life. It takes a while to sort out the ramifications.
In Binchy's novel, the patients who come to the clinic are helped tremendously through the reassurance of the staff that their medical condition can be managed and they can live full lives. Certainly there were changes to be made and life did not go on as before but life wasn't over either.
Here's a few more quotes that I have changed slightly to illustrate the point:
"She had seen trust and hope among patients who felt that they were learning to manage their hearing loss."
"We have found that those who come from a positive background, from a home where people really believe they will adjust, do adjust."The staff of Binchy's clinic help their patients through educational programs and regular checkups to monitor their progress. Wouldn't it be wonderful if there were a place like that
- where one could be shown many different types of hearing aids and that frequent adjustments to the aids one selects would simply be part of the process of becoming accustomed to wearing them.
- where one could go for assistance with learning to lipread, learning what accomodations are available and the best way to ask for them, and learning some basic signs and finger spelling.
- where one could meet others who had already been through the adjustment process and be reassured by them that a diagnosis of hearing loss isn't a prison sentence to a life of lonely gloom.
Have any of you ever experienced such a place? I met some audiologists once from a big city hospital that seemed to offer wonderful services to their patients. I vaguely remember they even had a room where you could have your hearing aids adjusted to hear music better. It sounded fantastic but also out of my reach as I didn't live in that city. Sigh.
My local audiologist offers just a basic diagnosis and fitting service. After receiving my new aids, it was pretty much up to me to cope with the adjustment process on my own. It seems as if there could be a better way. If it can be done for heart patients, why not for those with hearing loss? Am I only dreaming?
One of my readers provided two examples of organizations offering these services in the comments section. Thanks, Mog! The first is an organization in the UK called Hearing Concern. The second is an organization in Canada called Canadian Hearing Society.
Has anyone had any experience with these two organizations? Do you know of any more examples?
Here's an example from Ms. Toast Burner: Island Deaf & Hard of Hearing Centre (Vancouver Island) and from Jacki: Deaf and Hard of Hearing Services (Saskatchewan). Jonathon mentioned the Canadian Hard of Hearing Association as a good resource.
Canada seems to be ahead of the United States in this area. Has anyone found a helpful clinic in the US?