Ten years ago I underwent surgery for an acoustic neuroma that resulted in the total loss of hearing on my left side.
At the time I didn’t think losing hearing in one ear would be a big deal – after all, I had another ear which worked just fine – but I quickly discovered otherwise. Unilateral hearing loss makes it very hard to hear anything over background noise, and sound on the same side as the deaf ear doesn’t always reach the good one.
Trying to hear people in a group situation became very stressful. I’d have to aim my good ear at the person talking which made me look pretty awkward, and I often got nasty looks from people because I’d talk over them without realizing they were already talking.
So I started avoiding group situations. I stopped going to conferences and stayed away from large get-togethers. If I really needed to be somewhere with a group, I’d make sure to arrive early so I could position myself on the left.
That’s the background story.
Today I got a CROS hearing aid, which transmits sound from my left side over to my right ear. It’s far from a perfect solution in that background noise will still be an issue, but it does enable me to hear those talking on my left side. After a decade of turning to hear people on my left it’s pretty amazing not to have to do that.