I was born with mild-to-moderate hearing loss. The doctors didn't diagnose me correctly until I was seven years old, despite my mom telling them that I had trouble hearing some sounds, including dogs barking next door. After I went through several hearing tests and received the proper diagnosis, I was fitted for hearing aids.
My first pair of hearing aids was pink, purple, and yellow. Quite a sight, and they were extremely visible. I thought I was the coolest kid ever; you know how little kids are -- having something no one else does means you're unique and you use every opportunity to flaunt this special thing,
However, as I grew older, I grew insecure of the fact that I was "different."
As you may have noticed, I always wear my hair down. This is mostly because of my hearing aids (and also because I am extremely lazy -- oops). As you also may have noticed, I talk differently. I mumble and the volume of my voice is very low; this is because my speaking sounds normal to me but it is clearly not.
My most recent pair of hearing aids is clear (the ear part) and dark purple (the speaker part). So if you're wondering why you had no clue about my hearing aids until now, that's probably why. They blend in really well and, in fact, if you look at my ear in the cover photo (on the right), you might just be able to see a clear piece of plastic inside.
I would not say that I am insecure about my hearing aids anymore, as I am more than used to them and have come to accept myself for who I am, aside from the fact that my hearing aids aren't overly noticeable. I don't think I am different or "disabled" because of my hearing.
Part of what comes with wearing hearing aids is addressing people's curiosity. Speaking honestly, I do not get annoyed when people point out my hearing aids or ask questions about them. So, I'll answer a few commonly asked questions, starting with "How do hearing aids actually work?"
I think the diagram below explains it pretty well. Basically, the speaker and microphone parts (either the outside of the hearing aid or the over-the-ear part, if applicable) channel the sound more directly into the ear canal.
Other common questions about my hearing aids include whether I can/have to sleep, swim, or shower with them on. No, I do not sleep with them on because it's both uncomfortable and unnecessary. I cannot get my hearing aids wet or I'll owe my parents thousands of dollars -- yes, they really cost that much.
Also, if I take my hearing aids out or turn them off, I am not completely deaf. If I was 100% deaf, which is very rare, there would be no point in having hearing aids. Some people have higher degrees of hearing loss than I do; I can hear more than enough to get by without them but have to ask "What?" a lot more than usual and really struggle to hear certain voice tones and frequencies. Whispers are especially difficult for me to interpret.
Speaking of whispers, I hate the "whisper test." When people find out about my hearing aids, they take it upon themselves to ask "Can you hear me now?" in a slightly hushed tone over and over until their volume is minimal. Of course there becomes a point when I cannot hear but I know exactly what you're saying because you keep repeating yourself. Please stop.
When I say my batteries are dead, I can still hear you but the sound around me is just much dimmer because the hearing aid is simply sitting in my ear, not channeling any sound. Same goes with "muting" you. It doesn't work because I can still hear to a degree but, at that point, I can hear better with my dead hearing aids out. And, if you were curious, my batteries die about once a week and are relatively inexpensive.
Having hearing aids is a lot less complicated than it sounds and I really, truly don't mind wearing them (other than having to take them out to put my earphones in). They've become a part of me.