You're Never Too Young for Hearing Instruments
Today I’d like you to meet a friend of mine. She is a 13-year-old who wears hearing aids. Like many people, she hesitated to get them, and it took some time for her to adjust when she did. But instead of me telling her story, I’ll let her do that. Here it is in her own words. Ladies and gentlemen, meet Eden Emenecker.
Today I sat in the passenger seat of my friend’s car, and one of my favorite songs came on the radio. “I love this song,” I said, reaching to turn up the volume. I sang along to every lyric and listened to every instrument. But I couldn’t always do this. My name is Eden Emenecker, and I suffer from moderate to severe high-frequency hearing loss in both ears. I am thirteen years old.
When I was in second grade, my school had a hearing screening. Every student wore big headphones, and we were told to raise our hands when we heard a beep. Once everyone had finished, one of the women told me to stand aside. I waited, watching every kid in my class walk out of the room and back to class. It wasn’t long until I was the only one left standing there. “What are you still doing here,” asked the same woman who told me to stand there. As I was finding the correct words, which were “You told me to stand here earlier,” she told me to get back to class. So I did, not knowing why she told me to stand there. Now I know that I had actually failed that test, but because of the apparent confusion, my parents were never notified. We wouldn’t find out for several years to come.
I started to notice a pattern of hearing adversity throughout my elementary years. In the fifth grade, I had difficulties hearing my peers in the cafeteria, even if they were sitting right next to me. I also had frequent nosebleeds and migraines. This had been going on for a long time, even before I realized I had hearing loss. I told my parents about it, which only raised their concerns. Eventually we scheduled an appointment with our family doctor. He didn’t think I had any hearing loss; my language skills had always been fine. Because of my other medical issues, he said I should see the ENT (ear, nose, and throat doctor). This was only the start of my copious doctor-to-doctor visits.
I went to the ENT in July of 2019. After I had my hearing test, the examiner asked my mom if I had any ear infections or had been involved in any traumatic accidents. The answer to both those questions was no. The examiner said, “She does have some definite hearing loss.” Apparently, it was severe enough that I was eligible for hearing aids. We were all shocked, and I was already nervous about starting middle school. We decided to wait and process the news.
After sleeping on the news for a couple of nights, I decided I was ready for hearing aids. I really didn’t want them at first, because I didn’t want to alter my school reputation to “the girl who needs hearing aids.” I decided that was better than, “the girl who can’t hear anything you say to her.” By this time, it was also COVID, and masks were making hearing even more difficult. I was going from doctor to doctor to try to find out the cause of my hearing loss. It was all starting to get more real and more frustrating. Once I decided, my mother looked for places I could get hearing aids. She came across Audiology Services, and I went to see Dr. Delfino.
The first time I put my hearing aids in, I was incredibly overwhelmed. Even though I was amazed at what I could hear in the office, for example the fan turning on. When my mom and I reached the car, I immediately took them out. I didn’t feel like I wanted them, and they made everything seem super loud and stressful. I was going to have to have patience and persistence for my brain to adjust to all the new sounds. A few minutes later when we reached the house, I tried again. The more I used them, the better it got.
It’s been eight months since I got my hearing aids and I’ve adapted really well. It took a lot of time getting used to wearing them. I’m still pushing myself to wear them more often, but it's been worth it. We still don't know what caused my hearing loss, since there is no family history. Unfortunately, it does now seem to be progressing, so I'm glad I made the decision to get the hearing aids. I can now live my best life. I hope other kids with hearing loss are encouraged by my story. I've gotten so used to them that sometimes when I take them out, everything sounds too quiet, and I have to put them back in. I appreciate every sound.
Especially when my favorite song comes on the radio.
Claudia Hensen's Blog Series