As I reach the end of my first year working with Gardner, I would like to take a moment to reflect on my journey into the world of Audiology. In some way, audiology has been an ever-present entity in my life though I had never truly realized it. As a young child I suffered frequent ear infections, eventually resulting in the placement of tubes. My painful experiences shaped the way I looked at hearing as I knew that my own hearing diminished when I was suffering from an infection. Shortly after receiving my tubes I entered kindergarten, my classroom had a full-time sign language interpreter and our teacher used an FM system whenever she was leading lessons. By the time I was entering high school I had to choose a secondary language class, naturally I chose American Sign Language (ASL). The ASL class provided an in-depth course on the inner working of the human ear and how hearing aids and cochlear implants can combat hearing loss. After graduating high school, the world of audiology and hearing loss faded into the background, that is until my young daughter damaged her hearing in her right ear. Once again, I found myself in the familiar territory of the audiological world, this time seeking to treat my daughter’s hearing loss.
Funnily enough, my career with Gardner did not begin until nearly 2 years after my daughter’s diagnosis of hearing loss. By the time I began as an Audiology Assistant I felt that I had a pretty good understanding of what hearing loss entailed, but even with my experiences I quickly found that my previous knowledge of hearing loss barely scratched the surface. In the past year I have learned that hearing loss comes in many forms and no two individuals have had the same hearing loss journey. I have learned that hearing consists of two parts, volume and understanding. I have learned that tinnitus sounds different for different people and may range from mild to severe. I have learned that hearing health affects more than the ears, and is linked to many different systems which can drastically shape overall health. I have learned that hearing aids come in many different styles, each with their own set of pros and cons. Of course, I have learned how to properly clean and care for these different style of hearing aids. I have learned there is a difference between seeing an audiologist and seeing a hearing instrument specialist. I have learned how important it is to program a hearing aid to an individuals specific hearing loss through a technique known as Real Ear Measurement. But perhaps most importantly, I have learned that early intervention is key. Diagnosing and treating hearing loss early on provides the best results and keeps the brain stimulated. “Use it or lose it” is a very real warning in the world of audiology.
This year has forced me to address my own poor habits both in communication and hearing protection. Now more than ever I am aware of my surroundings as they pertain to my own hearing, as well as how they affect my ability to communicate. I find myself correcting old habits of speaking to someone without looking at them, or speaking to them from another room. As I enter my second year with Gardner Audiology I look forward to continuing to learn from the knowledgeable staff and each and every patient, but most of all, I look forward to continuing to make a difference in our patients lives.