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Shakib’s story: ‘It does matter’

Shakib is married, has three children and lives in Surrey. When he was a child, he had mumps and his hearing in his left ear deteriorated. His hearing should have degenerated until the point that he had no hearing in his left ear, however this did not happen. He has been living with 20-30% hearing in his left ear. 

Shakib has been working in sales for over 20 years and is heavily reliant on his right ear and lip reading. There are many times at work and in meetings where he has missed points and conversations.  

For many years, his mum told him to get his hearing checked but Shakib just put it off. About a year ago, Shakib was off work and decided to get his hearing checked. The results showed he was profoundly deaf in his left ear. After being referred to the NHS he was seen by an audiologist and fitted with a hearing aid. 

Here, Shakib shares his story and talks about growing up with hearing loss, how he navigated life before having a hearing aid, and the benefits of having a hearing aid.  

Growing up with hearing loss

Shakib stands outdoors, smiling at the camera
Shakib stands outdoors, smiling at the camera

There’s no way I would have wanted a hearing aid as a kid, because it’s just a reason to get bullied.”

When I was younger, I had mumps and initially the doctors thought that was the reason for my hearing loss, but I later found out that I was born with a hearing defect and that was the reason for my hearing loss in my left ear. The doctors said that as I got older my hearing would completely go but this did not happen. I have about 20-30% hearing in my left ear. To some people they would think this is enough to hear but sounds that are high pitched or women’s voices are quite difficult for me to hear though my left ear. 

None of my friends at school ever knew I had hearing issues even though it did affect me. Instead, I’d always flip myself around, so they were talking into my right ear. I also became quite good at lip reading which helped.  

As a child I was never offered a hearing aid, but if I were to be honest, there’s no way that I would have wanted one, because it’s just a reason to get bullied. There wasn’t anyone with a hearing aid and kids were quite cruel back then. Glasses were common and kids would often get bullied for wearing them.

Life at home and work before my hearing aid

When I was on the phone speaking to clients I couldn’t hear what anyone around me was saying.” 

I am married and have three kids and over the years there have been countless occasions where they’ve been calling for me and I’ve not heard them. I went through life basically being reliant on my good ear and the ability to lip read. This does not mean I hear everything, in fact it’s the opposite – and especially apparent when I am on the phone as I couldn’t hear anything that was going on in the background.  

When my wife sits next to me, she naturally goes to my right side as she knows if she started speaking to me on my left side she’d have to move.  At home, if we were in different rooms, my wife would text me to say oh one of the kids is calling you or she was calling me, because she knew I couldn’t hear them. 

I work in an office and there is always lots of chat and banter and I honestly miss most of what is being said. Mainly because our desks have screen dividers in front of us, so I could always hear my colleagues on my right side, but never really caught everything my colleagues in front of me or to the left of me were saying. When I was on the phone speaking to clients I couldn’t hear what anyone around me was saying.   

At work there was a running joke that unless I can see someone, I’m not going to be able to hear them. And there were times that this was true, and I felt excluded from conversations and banter as I couldn’t hear everything that was being said. A joke is never as funny when someone repeats it to you.

Why I finally got a hearing aid

Shakib stands in his hallway, looking at the hearing aid leaflet his mother left out for him
Shakib looking at the hearing aid leaflet his mother left out for him

My mum left a hearing check leaflet out for me. And I just thought you know what, why not.” 

As a child and teenager my mum would always take me to see the audiologist.  She’d often ask why I didn’t get a hearing aid. For me I had gone decades without one, so didn’t think it would make a significant difference. 

Just over a year ago, my mum left a hearing check leaflet out for me with a post it note saying “go get your hearing checked” and I just thought, you know what, why not. 

When I saw the audiologist, she said I have profound hearing loss in my left ear. But my hearing was the same as it was when I was younger. We talked through the options, and I decided that having a hearing aid now would be beneficial.  

The day I went to have my hearing aid fitted I felt okay and to be honest was not expecting much in terms of what I’d be able to hear in my left ear. But my hearing went from 20/30% to 60/70% which is a huge difference. I walked outside and could hear things that I hadn’t really heard in my bad ear like birds and planes in the sky.

Benefits of having a hearing aid

Shakib wearing his hearing aid in his home.
Shakib wearing his hearing aid in his home.

Prior to having a hearing aid I would sometimes feel excluded from conversations and banter as I couldn’t hear everything.”

Having a hearing aid has made me more confident at home, work and in social settings. 

When I am at work I can now be on the phone and pick up conversations that are going on around me, which is nice as I no longer miss conversations or office banter. 

At home I can have my kids on either side of me when we are having a conversation or watching TV. When we are in the car, I can hear whoever is in the passenger seat or back, which is huge because I’ve never been able to do that before. 

If I am at home alone or not socialising, I tend not to wear my hearing aid, but for work and family gatherings it’s always on and makes social activities much more enjoyable. 

I was recently selected for jury service at the Old Bailey. If you’ve ever been there, you’ll know it’s an incredibly old building with large courtrooms. The judge presiding over the case was elderly and spoke very slowly in a low and quiet voice.  All the jurors except me found it hard to hear him, which made me smile as it’s usually the other way around.”  

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RNID is also encouraging people to check their hearing. It only takes 3 minutes to do the hearing check and is free of charge.

Read about our new creative approach to how we’ve presented BSL translations in this campaign.

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