My “impossible” became possible…
Danielle Pushie, August 31, 2019
April 30, 2019 is a day I’ll never forget; a milestone, a significant change in my life. For those who know me well, or even if you don’t know me really well, you may know enough to know that I have a high pitch frequency hearing loss. This was a result of premature birth (9 weeks early). To describe what I can and can’t hear was and is a hard question to answer; why my speech had a unique “accent” (a gracious way to say speech “impairment”). But my response was always, “I talk the way I hear- it’s what I know; it’s my normal”. I never have liked the word “normal” because it’s different for everyone and all should be accepted and appreciated. Sometimes “normal” gets redefined.
I couldn’t hear birds sing but I could hear the piccolo. I could hear birds’ high pitch notes here and there, but never could hear the whole melody. I grew up loving music; played piano and performed in band, primarily playing the clarinet. Though I knew the piccolo and flute melodies, I could always hear them because they were loud. True, I also knew what they were supposed to play, but why I could hear them and not all birds was hard to explain. Whispers were a challenge and I relied on lip reading them. These were my normal. I used to wear hearing aids from Grade 5 until junior high. I knew why I did and I knew the hope my family had; to hear the birds, for example.
We all know how technology these days have skyrocketed, even over the last 5-10 years, and continues to do so. So compared to 1980s and ‘90s, back then my hearing aids made everything loud and it always sound like wind was blowing by non-stop. I knew that hearing aids provided help to others and that was all great. For me, they gave me headaches and as a kid growing up, it was embarrassing if the hearing aids were not inserted properly, as they would squeal a high-pitch squeal. Because I could not hear them squeal, but everyone else could, I stopped wearing them and I went about my life. I accepted that I couldn’t hear what I couldn’t hear. I accepted what was normal for me. My hearing tests at that time showed the hearing aids helped me somewhat; I could see that on paper, but I honestly then could not notice anything noticeably different by experience. I was told then that the brain that controls hearing was “damaged” in that I lost or didn’t develop ability to hear high pitch sounds. I made the choice to not continue hearing aids.
In 2006 out of nowhere, I experienced a ringing in my right ear. I soon learned from my family doctor at the time that it’s common for people with hearing loss to develop tinnitus. Being in my early 30s, I could not accept that. Why now after all these years, my whole life? So I researched and upon my sister’s advice and recommendation, I saw a chiropractor. I was tying in the ear-ringing to the chronic knots in my right shoulder and neck pain on the right side. With chiropractic help along with massage and acupuncture, I was able to reduce the ringing and learned how to cope with it when it arose. Amazing people and support in helping me, and I thank you and continue to. I believed it was and is all connected whole heartedly. I always did wonder though about my hearing loss being an additional cause.
In September last year, my dad got hearing aids and he, and all of us, noticed an immediate improvement in his hearing. I saw a light in him and it opened my mind to how technology changes so much. My dad, being very tech savvy, shared with me the programs that are tailored to personalized hearing test results. He told me that, in addition to the sizes, shapes and cool features hearing aids have (such as answering the phone through them, tv adapter, music streaming and not having to use headphones etc), it appeared…fun. On top of that, his hearing noticeably improved. But I wasn’t ready to look into it for me just yet. Maybe I didn’t believe yet they could help, but it was always there in the back of my mind. I might have also been afraid to find out the truth and bring my hopes up too high. I realized I wanted to hear the birds, but more so I wanted the ringing to stop.
In February of this year for the first time in years, I had a bad week of ear ringing. I couldn’t sleep, I couldn’t concentrate on anything but the annoying ringing. Music and exercise and all of my techniques were not helping, and I was stressed. I got desperate even, and asked why this was happening-when I had been feeling I was getting ahead. I wanted and needed to find out if there were other options on top of the chiro, massage, acupuncture, yoga, exercise. 13 years with tinnitus was and is a lot. I was ready to reach out for other kinds of education, support and help.
My doctor referred me to Bow River Hearing, as they specialize in tinnitus. I had to wait a month but it gave me something to look forward to. And in the meantime the tinnitus was calming down again and changing to a higher pitch sound that made it easy for me tune it out. But I was going to go to this appointment. I promised myself.
I could talk forever about David and Doug from Bow River Hearing. I went to the Bowness office initially and met them both, and my follow ups since has been at Crescent Heights with Doug. My consultation was booked for an hour and a half near the end of a day in March. They spent 2.5 hours with me. That itself blew me away. I felt welcomed, I felt their interest in me and my story. Best experience ever. “I’m a special case”, they said, which made me laugh and create humour around “of course I am…that’s how I roll”. 😉 I felt every emotion in that consultation. I mentally was prepared to attend, talk about everything openly and honestly, and emotion flowed in laughter and tears and hope. David and Doug expressed empathy, they expressed desire and interest to help me. They provided awareness of today’s technology and more education around tinnitus and that hearing aids may open my hearing world in a different way than ever before.
After all this engaging dialogue between myself, David and Doug, I was asked, “now we have 2 questions for you: how do you want to proceed” (about trying hearing aids) and secondly: “what colour do you want”. I laughed so hard and I knew I had to give this a fair chance. There was a trial period to try them and I had nothing to lose, (but hopefully the tinnitus), and maybe something to gain, like some high pitch sounds.
April 30th. The day couldn’t come fast enough. I was excited. I was scared and nervous as they day got closer. I booked that day off from work on purpose. I booked it for me. I got fitted with my brand new hearing aids. They are smaller, lighter and more airy compared to what I remember. I could talk forever more about that day, but the moment Doug switched the hearing aids on while he was talking….I was distinctly aware of his speech immediately. He saw my reaction and I remember his smile. I could clearly hear the ‘s’ sounds, ‘th/ch’ sounds. I got teary-eyed with awe that I couldn’t speak for a moment.
I heard the high pitch beeps on the interac pin pad. Clearly. I opened my car door and laughed because it didn’t know it beeped before. I got in my car and cried with smiles when I could hear notes to long-time-known music that I didn’t know existed. I am in Management at work and I lead meetings all the time, in front of large groups with no problems. In noisy restaurants with friends, however, sometimes deciphering conversations was hard. It was silently frustrating for me because I’m a social person who struggled sometimes to feel a part of conversations. I couldn’t hear all of it in the noisy distractions. My hearing aids help me hear every-single-word. I can also now hear conversations from other locations around me. No secrets, people. I hear them all. 😉 No “wind noises” like the days I used to wear them as a kid.
So not long ago, on April 30th, at 43 years of age, I heard the birds sing for the first time in my life. I hear the whole melodies now, not just occasional chirps. I can tell you my microwave beeps 4 times when it’s done. My oven timer plays a tune. My car beeps at every button pushed. I babysat my 3 and 6 year old nephews recently and I could hear every whisper between them and to me. I went to an open rehearsal at the Calgary Philharmonic Orchestra. (Compliments from Bow River Hearing). Music was beautiful before, but more so now- those strings, piccolos, oboes and xylophones are crystal clear, more profound.
Back to my consultation I had in March: I knew there was never a guarantee that I’d be able to hear those sounds I’ve never heard before. But I had to try this trial of today’s hearing aid technology. I had to know for certain. For me. I had to see if I could hear differently and if it’d help my tinnitus issue.
In my experience, I discovered that, for me, this has been above and beyond all my dreams and expectations. And it’s made me wonder does everyone with hearing loss know how awesome hearing aids are with the ever-changing technology. How to spread the word….here I am…so thank you for reading. Sincerely. I know this is an extremely long post. But I’m passionate about what I’m sharing.
David and Doug had said in the consultation that there probably would be enough of a noticeable difference that I’d probably wish I had pursued this sooner. I learned they were right. But I also think, because the hearing aids I have are so new in the latest technology, that the time I went in for help—this was my time. It was meant to be. This moment. In heart and soul as well. My world has opened. My brain is wired and in tune to high pitch frequency sounds I only dreamed of before. After sharing all these experiences, Doug asked me in a follow up appointment about the tinnitus and my response was, “Oh yeah…I forgot about that…”
Best reaction ever….and first time “aha” moment, in this area, in 13 years. It made me pause. And it made me smile in and out. Because I hear sounds I couldn’t before, the ringing does not not overpower me anymore-the ringing is basically gone. I often have to remind or ask myself if that ringing is there. I do still need my chiro and massage. There is multi-purpose reason of my tinnitus, and a message that all care contributes to results.
I have a passion and desire to talk with you or anyone you know who might have hearing loss and/or tinnitus, and/or are curious about hearing aids of today. I will always recommend Bow River Hearing. Doug has been my follow up and support since day one and I truly appreciate and value and the care. I could not have had a better experience or support, in my opinion. Everyone’s journey is different. Results can vary. Sharing is power. So here I am to share.
A mission of Bow River Hearing is that they promise to care for you like family. That is truth. Tailoring to needs, adjustments, growth and making you feel like they are part of your journey makes it all worthwhile.
For some friends and family who may wonder why I had not, before now, earlier shared with everyone yet…it’s not because didn’t want to. I chose to experience and adapt and embrace and celebrate within me for awhile.
I’m proud of my past and how it built me. Strong. People, technology and the evolution of change fascinates me. I was happy before but I’m in a place now of a different confidence and pride. All then and now is good.
If in any place or situation in life where there is asking of, or thinking, “what if?!” or “ I wonder….”…
Find out the “what is”….