DecibelMemos: Perspectives Absent of Sound

When Heidi Lovato went to see an ENT doctor (Ear, Nose, and Throat doctor—a more informal and slightly less confusing way of saying “otolaryngologist”) in December 2008, all she wanted was for him to remove the wax build up in her ears. However, to her surprise, the doctor didn’t find any build up. The 39-year-old Lovato discovered from an audiologist that her hearing problems actually stemmed from moderate hearing loss. Several years and many appointments later, Lovato learned she had genetic progressive hearing loss; today she experiences severe hearing loss. Progressive hearing loss is a journey and a challenge Lovato never believed she would face in her life. She recently began a blog, DecibelMemos, in which she shares thoughtful insights about her daily experiences as a woman with hearing loss.

As described on her blog, she hopes “to share with you my thoughts, experiences and what I am learning through this journey in hopes to shed some light to those who are dealing with this or anyone else that cares to expand their mind a little bit.”

The reason behind the name “DecibelMemos” is “because decibels are used to measure the intensity of sound waves. When you’re hearing impaired (like me), you get a pretty interesting perspective on things through and absent of the noise and chaos that exist all around us.”

“The most important way hearing loss has influenced me is I’ve learned to be an advocate for myself,” Lovato says. “I had to get educated not only on what I need (for accommodations) to be successful at work, but also with ADA [Americans with Disabilities Act] laws.”

Yet, despite the challenges Lovato now has to adjust to, she firmly believes her hearing loss should not keep her—or anyone—from achieving life goals. She is determined to “live my life intentionally” and even step outside of her comfort zone. She loves the quote “if you’re not changing you’re dying,” and appreciates the opportunity this “change” of hearing loss has provided in her life. As Lovato writes on her blog, she has become less and less of a social butterfly since developing hearing loss. Social interactions simply became more challenging, especially in crowd settings (her hearing aids can cause background noise to be a little overwhelming). Yet, in spite of these challenges, she believes the effort to reach out to her friends was worth the difficulty.

“I learned how important it is to give up a little environment control to be social and to foster friendships,” she remarks on her blog.

Heidi Lovato loves journaling, especially during her travels. “When you travel, you never know what to expect and there is a bit of fear, awkwardness and vulnerability of being someplace new and that is what inspires me to write,” she says.

Hearing loss is another one of these journeys taking her to uncharted territories. “Like my travels,” she says, “I found my progressive hearing loss taking me on another journey, but this time an internal journey and one I needed to share with others.”

And, as she continues on with her new journey with hearing loss, she offers a piece of advice for her fellow travelers: “My advice to anyone with hearing loss (no matter what age) is to take advantage of all the technology available. Don’t miss out on life because you’re too vain to wear hearing aids. I am 45 years old and wearing hearing aids. I don’t fit the norm and I no longer care. Do not let hearing loss get you down. You can still live a quality life—you just have to learn to live life differently!”

Check out Heidi Lovato’s blog, DecibelMemos, here.

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