26 - 40 dB Mild Hearing Loss
41 - 55 dB Moderate Hearing Loss
56 - 70 dB Moderately Severe Hearing Loss
71 - 90 dB Severe Hearing Loss
>91 dB Profound Hearing Loss
So I have normal hearing in the Low Frequencies, but a severe to profound loss in the high frequencies, commonly known as a 'ski-slope' loss. As my audiologist said - there comes a point when hearing aids aren't much help as they can only amplify the hearing you have. No wonder my speech discrimination isn't much cop - even WITH my hearing aids, I'll have problems deciphering some words because so many of the consonants are missing - "00 u unneran?"
And that is my Left ear.
The 'speech banana' and the pictures show the sounds I can hear to the left of the line, and all the sounds I can't hear to the right of the line. I can hear jackhammers, crows, dogs barking, pianos, bass lines. I can't hear folk whispering, clocks ticking, high pitched alarms and bleeps, crickets chirping and birds singing - often not even with my HAs IN! This has implications for work: I can hear Fetal heart tones fine - and take blood pressures OK - though I have to take my hearing aids out to use a stethoscope which is a pain in the butt. I can't hear the new alarms from the rooms on Delivery Suite - they are very high pitched. This means I rely on others to tell me when a woman I'm caring for pushes her call bell when I'm out of the room. And I wonder what's going on when everyone rushes to answer the emergency buzzer. This is NOT ideal. Phone calls are variable: for some reason, '2' and '3' sound exactly alike when spoken over the phone. This makes taking down phone numbers and the like problematic. Sound quality varies - I'm OK if the line is clear and the person's voice is distinct. But I'm useless if they are quiet or on a mobile with a poor reception. I can use the phone with my hearing aids in, but I strain, so I prefer to take one out and jam the earpiece against my earlobe and ask the other person to shout at me. Anyway I'm off to 'Soundbase' in Exeter next Wednesday to see what sort of 'Assistive Listening Devices' I can get hold of to help me out which I guess I should have done way before now, but I'm good at procrastinating. I am fortunate to work in a Team with very supportive colleagues - everyone is aware of my hearing loss (well - it's not something that can be hidden, even though it's not particularly visible - the constant use of 'whaaaaaaat?' is a bit of a giveaway).
I guess what's got me so preoccupied with all this is that there has been a definite deterioration since my last hearing test - and I'm YOUNG to have this happen. What will I be like when I'm 60? I'll cross my fingers that the technology available will keep pace with my hearing loss, and try and protect the hearing I have left.
I have digital behind-the-ear aids - and the one good thing that came out of yesterday was that I was given a new pair - rounded and a dark grey colour called 'granite' - no more pink slugs for me! I like them. Thanks to Mary (Quite Contrary) who has the most gorgeous purpley blue HAs (and got them on the NHS) for the inspiration: As a result of seeing hers I asked for a different colour. I was told that they do do different colours but that these are for children and more expensive. (So is glitter in the clear ear moulds for children, but I got that!). But the 'granite' pair comes at no extra cost so I got those. There's an amusing (and so true) response to an article on getting used to hearing aids - see Amanda Kvaslvig's letter: "Follow up of people fitted with hearing aids" BMJ 2002; 325:1304.
As a result of the new aids, I nearly jumped out of my skin when someone texted me the other day. The sound was so loud!