The Gift of Hearing

-By Udhayakumar R-

lt was my usual Monday morning in the clinic bustling with activity. An 83-year-old woman (way younger, energetic and active for her age) was referred from ENT to us for a hearing evaluation. She was a NRI with a very good habit of getting her hearing tested routinely. She had done it regularly, twice a year, for the past 30 years. This time, she was here in India and I was going to evaluate her hearing.

During the case history interview, she didn’t report any hearing difficulty as such. However, I noticed that she has a minimal sloping hearing loss in both ears and a consistent speech recognition score. The next step was to counsel her regarding the hearing loss. I carefully explained to her the possible causes of why her hearing must have deteriorated. She interrupted me in between and said that she was aware of all this and was expecting that I would also say the same thing that she had been told. She was always told that she can manage her hearing levels and that this is not why she had traveled across the globe for. Her statement and sentiment pushed me to think out of the box. I began inquiring more about the problems that she faces in her daily routine. What she told me was that she feels like she zones out from all conversations because of her hearing loss and none of the other Audiologists or medical practitioners were providing her with a solution. Looking at how I was probing and took interest, she put her trust in me to overcome her problem.

I explained to her why they did not intervene earlier but we could try an informal Hearing Aid Trial procedure. I started the procedure using a RIC hearing aid with a low-class receiver and an open dome. I asked her to wear it and go around within the hospital. She came back after 20 minutes and there was a glow on her face. She was satisfied and made up her mind to go ahead with the aid. But, I was having second thoughts because of her hearing loss levels and configuration. I was a little reluctant to prescribe a hearing aid. So, I asked her to use it for a week and get back to me. She came back after a week with the same glow and had brought her entire family to the clinic to meet me. She became emotional when she told me how disconnected she had felt for the past 6 months. She made her choice to keep the hearing aids and left with so much happiness. Since then she has made it a point to call me at least once a month. The previous week she had called me to talk about how she is enjoying her vacation with her family.

On some days, it might seem like a routine small thing I do. It is such patients that make me realize the impact of what I do.

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