Jeffrey Switzer, M.S.
Jeffrey’s Journey Toward Better Hearing
One in ten Canadians has hearing loss. The incidence of hearing loss increases with age, and one in five people has some degree of hearing impairment by age 45.
And although approximately 3.3 million Canadians have hearing loss, only a small fraction wear hearing aids.
Spinal Meningitis: One of Many Hearing Loss Causes
It may seem strange that someone wouldn’t seek help for hearing loss. But my own experience proves how hard it is to properly identify and treat hearing loss.
As a very young baby, I contracted spinal meningitis, which in many cases can cause hearing loss. In my case, the illness left me with a moderately severe hearing loss in only one ear.
Hearing Loss in Children Can Go Undetected
My one good ear allowed me to develop normal speech and language skills, so it wasn’t until one Christmas when I received a transistor radio with one earphone that I knew I had a hearing problem. I had learned to live with it.
Faking to Seem “Normal”
Because it wasn’t common in the early ’70s to fit a unilateral hearing loss, I managed with the hearing I had. And while I was a straight-A student and was comfortable in most social situations, the growing demands of a young adult began to frustrate me.
I found myself withdrawing from social outings. Going out with friends to noisy places like restaurants and nightclubs made me fee like I was alone in a crowd of people. I simply could not hear well enough to interact easily. Still, I was successful in many other regards and didn’t fully recognize the impact of my hearing loss on me.
Admitting You May Have a Hearing Problem
I thank the recession of the 1980s for encouraging me to return to university. It was a skills-matching test that “matched” me with the field of audiology. My hearing loss just made it more interesting.
I was encouraged by my professors to try a hearing aid, although I didn’t think I needed one, as I thought I didn’t have a hearing problem. Considering I was going to help others with hearing loss, I thought I should begin by helping myself.
Doing Something About It
With a lot of encouragement and support from my fellow classmates and professors, I entered an entirely new world of sound.
Formerly unknown to me was the fact that the little plastic tips on your shoelaces make a noise when they hit the leather of your shoes when you walk. What was the strange noise I heard when I peeled an orange? Since when did clocks tick? Stereo sound?
The sounds I was used to were flat and lifeless. Now, the world was full of deep and interesting sounds.
It’s an understatement to say that the day the hearing aid arrived was exciting. But I was also a little worried that people would see my hearing devices and think I was helpless… not to mention old.
I vowed to grow my hair long to hide the small hearing aid so no one would know about it. That is, until I realized that people who saw me would understand how much it means to experience life’s huge range of sounds.
Today, it is a rare occasion that I let MY world of sound slip away from me by not wearing my hearing aid. I even proudly display it by sporting a short haircut.
I encourage each of you with hearing loss (c’mon, you know who you are) to take the first step. Admit you may have a hearing problem and that help is at your fingertips. Come in for a free consultation.
It only gets easier from here.