Here’s a big confession – if you are reading this and don’t know me in person, I haven’t yet told you about something that makes me uniquely me. If you do know me, then thanks for being kind enough to repeat a few things you say because you already know that I wear two hearing aids and have about half my natural hearing. I was unfortunate enough to contract the measles about ten days before my first birthday and this is the most likely cause of my subsequent hearing loss.
I am always open about my hearing (or lack of it) but I also would rather get to know someone before I disclose the fact to them. I have had some experiences where I have mentioned it to someone and then they start to talk as if I am a bit dim rather than hard of hearing. With my hearing aids, theoretically, I should be able to hear just as well as the next person.
The problem is that when it comes to being active near water, I cannot wear my hearing aids. This has proved a bit tricky while swimming and learning to canoe. I recently found out Siemens has developed a waterproof hearing aid but at the cost of £1,495 each, this is a bit beyond my means. On the plus side, it is good to see hearing aid technology moving on as it is my impression that it hasn’t really changed much during my lifetime and it doesn’t receive much funding on the NHS.
Although it costs me time in transition 1, putting the hearing aids back in after swimming has not proved to be a major problem at triathlons. The only hiccup I had was during the Wirral sprint triathlon – my first triathlon after 10 years or so – and with the excitement and lots of noisy and enthusiastic supporters during the first transition, I forgot to put them back in for the bike leg! I didn’t realise until I was about 500 metres along the road that something felt different. Although it was risky, I made a conscious decision that I would be relatively safe in a crowd of competitors and thankfully, that was the case. The hearing aids went straight back in my ears for the run leg and all’s well that ended well.
I was curious to know if I am the only person to wear hearing aids for triathlon so I posted in 220 Magazine Triathlon’s forum asking that question. There were no replies. I assume that there must be other hard of hearing triathletes?
As for canoeing, during my training, I couldn’t wear them as we practised capsizing at every lesson. As I have posted elsewhere, this does make it difficult to follow the instructor. Again they have been incredibly patient when aware of the problem.
So, the moral of this post perhaps, is don’t let anything minor stand in your way of what you want to do. I didn’t hesitate to get back into triathlon in 2014, even though the logistics of competing with hearing aids can be a bit tricky. Also remember to put your hearing aids back in after transition 1!
I would love to hear from you if you have a hearing problem or maybe other disability that makes it slightly harder for you to take part in active or water sports. Perhaps we can share stories to encourage others to get started if they wanted to do something but felt that their disability was holding them back?