Lessons in life

Posted by jennifer gibson on Tuesday, January 12, 2016 Under: 2016

After wearing hearing aids for over 40 years, I've learned a lot. I'm fully aware of my limitations and what works for me. It's not necessarily because I'm stubborn, it's due to the fact that I have oodles of experience. I know when someone is trying to pull a fast con on me or trying ridiculously hard to convince me that a particular brand is more superior than others. I can spot someone who is not qualified or inexperienced with dealing with someone with a hearing loss. Not very many things scare me but when I come across a company in the hearing aid industry that is actually causing more harm than good, that terrifies me. What makes it worse is the fact that they are oblivious to the damage they are causing to their clients as well as their business or reputation. Over the years I've been on the receiving end of inappropriate advice from many people who thought that they were being honest and helpful. Sadly, in most of those cases, they were entirely out of line and unethical.

There was one situation where I was asked by an audiologist, out of the blue, about my personal life and where I was living. When I told them that I didn't feel safe living on my own and was renting the lower half of my family's house, they immediately told me to move out. I was shocked. Even after I told them that I had my own business, they were completely against the idea of me living with someone else. Quite frankly it was none of their business and completely out of line. As a result, I never went back. I just happened to see them again in the city several years later and they had the audacity to tell me to make an appointment with them. I immediately said no.

What they failed to realize was that I had my own job, I was paying for the rent and food, and responsible for paying my own bills just like everyone else. The only difference was that there was someone else in the house that could hear, especially at night. While some people have no problems living on their own, regardless of their disability, I personally did not feel safe by myself. I felt very blessed to be able to spend time with my family and treasured every day that I had with them.

Unfortunately, this particular company had a very distorted view of people with disabilities and they felt obligated to tell them how to live their life which was entirely inappropriate and deeply disturbing. While their opinions may have been their own, it was a poor reflection of their business which made it clear that they were in it for the money and not the clients. I had to trust my gut in this situation and walk away from them.

I had another run in with another audiology clinic in a different city several years later which still has me shaking my head in dismay. My ENT decided to have me see an audiologist that just happened to be in the same building. I obliged thinking that it would be pretty straightforward. Boy was I wrong. Upon walking into the room, I was approached by a young Asian woman who had a thick accent. It was apparent that English was not likely her first language. When she spoke, I had trouble understanding her. Fortunately I had someone with me who helped me answer her questions. As I sat there, alarm bells were ringing in my mind, I felt very uncomfortable in this situation. This didn't feel like a normal clinic and some of her comments seemed very unprofessional and rather opinionated.

When I went into the listening booth, I noticed that she was missing many of the usual testing tools. When I asked her about that, she replied, "Oh I don't use them." Again, I had a very bad feeling about this. She decided to go ahead and do the speech recognition test where I had to repeat everything she said. I was nearly in tears when I missed most of what she said since I couldn't understand her. When I came out of the booth, she said that I failed the hearing test. I looked at the report and noticed that it didn't match my previous tests at other clinics. My hearing had been stable for many years and I knew what my hearing test should look like, her results were completely askew. I had this nagging feeling in the pit of my stomach that something was horribly wrong here.

After I left the office, I went home and did some research into the requirements of an audiology clinic. One of them was that the audiologist must have clear and excellent speech. When I filed a complaint, I was informed that particular clinic was not officially recognized as being part of a professional hearing healthcare organization (ie: Listen Up). It appeared to be run by someone doing it on their own. This horrified me and I wondered how many other people were victims of their unprofessional services and getting poor healthcare in return. I was smart enough to never return to that office.

After a lot of trial and error, I finally found a clinic that I trusted with honest and qualified staff who knew the ins and outs of programming hearing aids and dealing with my type of hearing loss. It took time and a lot of repeat visits to get the right fit for me. I've learned that it takes an inordinate amount of patience to get the right kind of service that I needed for my hearing loss. Since my type of hearing loss is so severe, there are very few clinics out there that have the right kind of experience in dealing with it. This had turned into a valuable learning experience for everyone.

The next time you visit a new business, especially a healthcare organization, when your gut tells you that something feels off, trust it. It's not worth jeopardizing your health or your lifestyle. Walk away from it. Find a better and more qualified service that suits you. This same principle can apply to anything in your life, if you immediately feel uncomfortable with someone or their business, that's a big warning sign that you don't belong there. Your body is sending you signals that something is wrong. Trust your instinct. I learned that lesson the hard way.

Ironically when I look back at some of the situations I've been in, they could've been avoided if I had listened to those warning bells. I knew something was off the first time I met them and yet I ignored it. Now I wish I hadn't. I should've walked away when I had the chance.

When you are searching for new services, make sure that you talk to other people to get a better perspective about how they treat their customers. Do some research online, check the reviews and comments about them. Most people will ask me where they can go to get new hearing aids or have their hearing tested. That's being smart. They are doing the right thing. I've lived and traveled all over Ontario and have utilized many hearing aid services. I know which ones offer superb care and products and which ones to avoid.

As a person with a disability, you are responsible for finding the best care for yourself. Period. No one else has the right to tell you how to live your life. Even though they may be kindhearted people with the best intentions, they have no idea what it's like to deal with a permanent disability on a daily basis. If you find yourself in a position where someone is trying to push a particular product or brand on you and it feels like an aggressive tactic, that's a sign their business is not the right place to be. Keep looking. Go elsewhere. There are many clinics out there where you can feel comfortable talking to the staff and finding a product that suits your lifestyle and type of hearing loss. The focus should be on you.

At my age, I've learned a lot of life lessons. Namely that I should listen to my body and trust my instincts. If it feels wrong, I need to take a moment and figure out if it's the right place for me. That rule applies to virtually every aspect of my life such as work, relationships and sports. If the environment feels toxic and I'm the receiving end of a lot of inappropriate behaviour or negativity, then it's time for me to move on. It's hard walking away from those situations but it's necessary to protect myself from harmful energy and attitudes. I have enough on my plate as it is, there is no need to deal with others that don't understand the difficulties I go through on a daily basis.

Do yourself a favour and listen to your body. It's important.

On an interesting note, I found a great list featuring misconceptions about hearing loss and hearing aids, go take a look:

In : 2016 

Tags: trust  instincts  listen  perceptions  opinions  audiology 
Comment Form is loading comments...