Hearing loss, please help

  1. I have an extensive history with hearing loss that began in early childhood. Related to chronic infections, scar tissue, surgery, failed tubes, on and on. My right here had been ok. Left ear is "troubled". Most of my life it has just presented as a challenge to know which direction sounds are coming from.

    When I started nursing school in 2015 I kept my hearing troubles to myself, but did have some concerns. I sought out a hearing test from an audiologist as I had not had one in more than a decade (nursing was a second career for me, I'm 36 now) The results wetter upsetting but confirmed what I basically already knew. The hearing loss in my left is moderate at some tones and "profound" in others. Right ear had some mild loss now but nothing really concerning. I was told that I would benefit from a hearing aid in the left.

    I went home and looked into hearing aids only to discover that insurance doesn't cover them, and the kind I would like (in ear, discreet) as a young professional were about $7k. I pushed it all to the side and made it through nursing school. I constantly feared being "found out". BUT I had been a medical assistant for more than a decade and felt confident in my ability to hear blood pressures, etc... And did well in school.

    Anyway, I now have my LPN. I work in an urgent care setting and have for over a year. Last month one of the providers I work with retook a bp that I had taken, not because he questioned my vitals but because he was trying to rule out a vascular dissection and wanted bps on both arms. His reading was about twenty points off from my original, so he took it on the side I had done as well and got a different result. We talked it over briefly, even had another provider go in and take it (that poor patient!) who got a reading somewhere in between ours. I thought it was odd but chalked it up to change in patient (nerves, positions, etc) and felt pretty confident in my reading.

    Then today I had a similar instance at work. I got a reading of 152/90. Doctor rechecked at end of visit to see I'd ur hag come down and it was 188/98. Did it change that much in that time frame? Probably not. The conversation that ensued between the doctor and I was incredibly awkward and made me feel like absolute garbage.

    I did what I had to at work for the next hour, and then when there was a quiet moment called the audiologist to schedule another hearing test and a hearing aid consult. Then I went into the bathroom and cried. And cried. And cried. Like... SOBBED..I am a new nurse with imposter syndrome as it is. Terribly. Finding confidence has been just an excruciating process. This just completely set me off.

    I eventually pulled myself together and finished out my day. I've been tearful off and on but made it. I have a 14 hour shift tomorrow and then an 8 hour shift on Saturday. I just have this pit in my stomach and feel this horrible mixture of shame, mortification and fear.

    Any advice at all??
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    About FuturePN

    Joined: May '15; Posts: 48; Likes: 48

    15 Comments

  3. by   Night__Owl
    Are you able to accurately hear heart and lung sounds?

    I would look into getting an amplified stethoscope. They are pricey (a few hundred dollars), but nowhere near the cost of a hearing aid, and I'm not sure you'd be able to listen to a stethoscope properly "through" a hearing aid.

    Don't beat yourself down over this. It's not the end of the world, and it doesn't make you a bad nurse of a bad person. Just recognize it for what it is: an issue you have through no fault of your own, that you need to compensate for a little bit.
  4. by   JKL33
    I can't offer advice on your hearing difficulties or solutions, but I will say that it may be inappropriate in most instances to counsel someone on their measurement of blood pressure without having performed a simultaneous reading (unless the critique is given because an erroneous procedure is directly observed or something like that). Blood pressure readings vary (widely sometimes) based on lots of factors that have nothing to do with anyone's hearing.

    If you choose to take action to improve your hearing, let it be for you - so that you can be done with the stressor it has been to worry constantly about it.
  5. by   AnnieOaklyRN
    I will say the patient's BP could have easily changed in that time frame, especially if doctors make them nervous and retaking someones BP usually does!!

    On the other hand I wrote a post a while back about my partner at work (I work on the ambulance) who can barely hear anything and is a danger because he cannot hear what I am saying on scene and when I am telling him if it is clear or not to proceed through an intersection. I had to defibrillate a patient a couple weeks ago in the back of the ambulance (the patient went into vfib arrest after being awake and talkative to us) and he couldn't hear anything I was saying and was completely unaware that I was about to shock the patient, he also couldn't hear the defibrillator charge noise as a cue. I had to yell at him at least 3 times to clear before he understood me. You could very well be risking your safety or the patient's if you cannot hear what someone is trying to tell you, if they need help or something else. I would suggest if you can afford to, that you get a hearing aide. It is only going to get worse, and it can also be very frustrating for the people you work with if they have to repeat themselves 2+ times for you too hear them.( I am speaking from experience here).

    Good luck

    Annie
  6. by   meanmaryjean
    Have you told your co-workers about your hearing loss? That might be a place to start. And could they invest in an automatic BP machine on wheels?

    But I agree- the amplified stethoscope is going to be most helpful to you. Who know- perhaps your employer will pay for it!
  7. by   brownbook
    I survived nursing with partial hearing loss in one ear from a childhood illness.

    I'm so stupid....I always thought it was just me not being a very good nurse that I sometimes had trouble with blood pressures and lung sounds. Honest I never thought: Duh, my right ear doesn't work well!

    There is a post in Allnurses under nurses with disabilities, "Nursing with a hearing loss: Yes you can!"

    When they came out with hearing aids for people with nerve damage I got some, but it was my last year of nursing before I retired and I wasn't doing bedside patient care anymore.

    They were crazy expensive! Later I heard that Costco has an excellent hearing aid center with great prices!
    Last edit by brownbook on Aug 10
  8. by   llg
    I have had a hearing impairment for many years -- totally deaf in one ear and slightly hard of hearing in the other. I have been that way since I was 38 years old. I also have tinnitus and some mild/moderate balance issues due to damage to my inner ear.

    You have to face your handicaps so that you can successfully deal with them. Denying them doesn't help you or the patients who need you to be able to assess them properly. There are ways for you to still be a nurse, but you will need to acknowledge your disabilities and get the help (e.g. technology) you need to be a safe and effective nurse. Talk to your doctor/audiologist/etc. and work with them to develop a plan and get the help you need. You may also need to tell your boss what is going on so that your patients are kept safe until you can obtain the technology you need to function fully. "Faking it" is unsafe and unethical. I would tell your boss that your hearing has deteriorated recently and you will be needing assistance with it so that he/she doesn't think you have been lying about it all these years. You also may qualify for some medical or disability benefits at work if your hearing truly has gotten worse lately and your ability to assess the patients has deteriorated since you took the job.

    Finally, you might want to talk to an attorney to find out your rights before dealing with your boss.

    My comments may sound harsh ... but you will not be able to move forward with your life or career without acknowledging reality and dealing with it.

    And finally ... there is no need to spend extra money on hearing aids that are "discrete." Hearing loss is nothing to be ashamed of. Save your money and just be sure you get ones that work.
  9. by   traumaRUs
    Moved to Nurses with Disabilities - best wishes
  10. by   Kitiger
    My hearing aide was $900, used, Beltone. I have regular appointments - including hearing tests - that are included in the cost of the hearing aide. I bought it so I would continue to be able to hear the high-pitched alarms at work.

    I do not recommend buying a 'one size fits all' amplifier, although they are cheaper. They are not matched to your hearing. They're more like buying reading glasses at the drugstore. They help, but not as much as prescription glasses would help.
  11. by   Alex_RN
    You measure BP manually? I have done that twice in 3.5 years. Wouldn't an automatic BP cuff solve the problem?
  12. by   DowntheRiver
    Quote from Alex_RN
    You measure BP manually? I have done that twice in 3.5 years. Wouldn't an automatic BP cuff solve the problem?
    In any Urgent Care I have worked at they have always done BP manually. No room for machines and more accurate readings (in my opinion).
  13. by   hppygr8ful
    Quote from meanmaryjean
    Have you told your co-workers about your hearing loss? That might be a place to start. And could they invest in an automatic BP machine on wheels?

    But I agree- the amplified stethoscope is going to be most helpful to you. Who know- perhaps your employer will pay for it!
    I would opt for the electronic stethoscope as it would be a tax-deductible tool expense and would be yours. The really good BP machines on wheels that are calibratable can run upwards of $2000.00 which the clinic may not wish to spend.

    Good luck to you


    Hppy
  14. by   Workitinurfava
    Don't tell anyone about your hearing loss. Try to get it fixed. Your role as a nurse will be questioned. You could lose your job. They will think you can't assess properly, when it comes to sounds. The time to have spoken up, was when you were hired.
    Last edit by Workitinurfava on Aug 11

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