03 Mar Waves of emotion | Amanda’s lifechanging hearing aids
Amanda Nash cried tears of joy when she drove into her hometown of Port Campbell for the first time with hearing aids.
“I couldn’t work out what the noise was…it was the waves and it was only then I realised that I hadn’t heard that for a long time. It was very emotional,” she said.
“You don’t realise what you miss – twittering birds, the sound of rain on the roof. When I take my hearing aids out, I don’t hear any of those things.”
Ms Nash, 62, is the Women’s Health Nurse and Community Health Nurse here at Timboon and District Healthcare Service (TDHS).
She was only 43 when she became aware that her hearing had diminished. Her life changed a couple of years later when her first set of hearing aids were fitted.
“I’ve had hearing aids for 15 years and still many people don’t know. They are very inconspicuous and still today, someone I know quite well will notice them and think I’ve just got them – but I’ve had them since 2005,” Ms Nash said.
“I had been to Vietnam early in 2002. I got back mid-year and just felt there was a vacantness…like my ears were blocked from the flight or something like that.
“It took my kids to say ‘mum you’re not hearing us’…particularly when they came up behind me. I was aware, with the work I do, that it was also becoming increasingly difficult to hear and understand people in a group setting.
“I booked into my GP thinking I just needed them syringed out and unblocked, but I left that appointment with an audiology referral to Tim Rayner in Warrnambool. That was the first time I thought ‘oh no’, where is this leading…am I going deaf?
“Then I remembered my mother was about the same age as I was then, 43, when she had what is called a stapedectomy – a surgical procedure to restore her hearing.”
Ms Nash said she was also going through early menopause and as a women’s health nurse she knew that lessening oestrogen at menopause may result in some women suffering hearing loss.
“I went to my hearing test pretty anxious. It was a basic test with headphones and when you heard different noises you had to push a button,” she said.
“It confirmed I had hearing loss that either warranted hearing aids or the same surgery mum had. I was adamant straight away that I’d get hearing aids, but Tim insisted I meet with ENT (Ear Nose and Throat surgeon) Dr Anne Cass so I could make a balanced decision.
“Ultimately, I met with Anne, she confirmed I could have the surgery, but I chose the hearing aids. Unfortunately though, there was a two year delay at the time getting the hearing aids – it was the worst two years of my life.”
Ms Nash said she remembered March 6, 2005 vividly as it was the day her hearing aids were fitted and her quality of life was restored.
“It really was life changing. My only knowledge of hearing aids until then was looking after older people and them ringing and squealing, but they’re not like that now,” she said.
“I’m only on my second set in 15 years, but I’m due for new ones later this year. The ones I’ve got now can Bluetooth to my phone, the car and TV and the new ones will be even more advanced.
“My mum, who is 84, subsequently got hearing aids after I did and loves them also. Apart from the dog eating one of mine once and accidentally hopping in the shower a couple of times, I’ve never had a problem.”
Ms Nash encouraged anyone with hearing concerns to embrace hearing aid technology.
“They don’t stop me doing anything, most people don’t see them and they really are life-changing,” she said.
“I worry that people, who don’t do something about it, become isolated, withdraw from social interactions and stop living life to its fullest.”
March 1-7 is Hearing Awareness Week. Tim Rayner comes to TDHS every month and appointments can be made by calling reception on 5558 6000.