Hearing management

Updated 14 December 2017

Marissa's journey: the wonder of everyday sounds

Recently, for two weeks I had silence around me again. It has made me realise how being able to hear everyday sounds makes me feel I belong.

My earpieces had to go in to be fixed and for two weeks I had silence around me again. It has made me realise how being able to hear everyday sounds makes me feel I belong.

Fortunately I have my earpieces back now – not to be able to hear anything had a big effect on my confidence and sense of belonging. I can feel my level of self-confidence dropping if I don't wear my hearing aids, and this has made me realise how dependent I've become on being able to hear sound.

I find it very frustrating not being able to hear, especially when I'm working. These hearing aids have become an essential part of my daily life, and they make me feel like an integral part of what is happening around me.

The importance of the sounds of everyday life
It's wonderful to be able to hear people's footsteps, cups clinking in the kitchen when people are making tea, the clients and other beauty therapists laughing and talking. Even if I don't always understand what's being said, it makes me feel at home and comfortable and that I belong. Sound signifies life to me.

People sometimes complain about noise, but believe you me, if you've spent 18 years of your life in complete silence, you will enjoy every second of it. I cannot get enough of the sounds around me, and to be able to identify different sounds has become like a game to me.

Sometimes I close my eyes and try just to listen and recognise the sound I'm hearing, and to see whether I understand where it's coming from and what it means. But I do realise that there's still so much that I need to learn regarding the world of sound.

The meaning of sounds have to be learnt
It might sound strange for people who have always been able to hear, but remember, my brain doesn't recognise sounds like other people's brains do. I have to learn and remember what sounds are like and what they mean.

I may never be able to differentiate words
The experts say that my brain may never be able to recognise and differentiate different words, because I couldn't hear anything for 18 years, but if I must be honest, it's not that important to me, even though it would be really great if it happened.

What is really important to me is to hear the sounds of my immediate environment. That opens up the world to me, gives me self-confidence, and makes it a lot easier for me to lipread. I find it difficult to describe what I'm experiencing – I realise that it must be difficult for people, who have never been in this situation, to understand what it's like.

I'm grateful for the opportunity that came my way via widex, and with the speech and hearing therapy I'm receiving. I do believe that things can only get better. Every little thing that I hear and learn is a wonderful bonus to me. I also know that there are many people out there with hearing problems who can only dream of the opportunity that I have had. A life spent in silence is not easy.

Where I am going to end up, I don't know, but what I do know, is that a positive attitude at this point is essential. So are perseverance and patience – and I believe I have a fair quantity of both. I am very happy about what I can experience now and what I have now. (Health24)


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Hearing Expert

Dr Kara Hoffman graduated from UCT in 2004, thereafter she completed her year of community service in Durban. In 2010 she completed her Masters Degree in Paediatric Aural Rehabilitation from UKZN. In 2016, she became a Doctor of Audiology through the University of Arizona (ATSU). Dr Hoffman and her partner Lauren Thompson opened a fully diagnostic audiology practice called Thompson & Hoffman Audiology Inc. In 2011 with world-class technology and equipment to be able to offer the broad public all hearing-related services including hearing testing for adults and babies, vestibular (balance) assessments and rehabilitation, industrial audiology, hearing devices, central auditory processing assessments for school-aged children, school screening, neonatal hearing screening programmes at Alberlito and Parklands Hospital, cochlear implants and other implantable devices, medicolegal assessments and advanced electroacoustic assessments of hearing. Thompson and Hoffman Audiology Inc. are based at Alberlito Hospital in Ballito, St Augustines Hospital in Durban and at 345 Essenwood Road, Musgrave. The practices are all wheelchair friendly. There are three audiologists that practice from Thompson & Hoffman – including Dr Kara Hoffman, Lauren Thompson & Minette Lister. The practice boasts professional, highly qualified, and extensive diagnostic services where all your hearing healthcare needs can be met. The additional licensing in vestibular assessment and rehabilitation, paediatric rehabilitation and cochlear implantation places this practice in one of the top specialist audiological positions in South Africa, with a wealth of experience in all clinical areas of audiology and is a very well respected and sought-after practice.

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