Student nurse Laura McMahon can never remember a time when she did not wear a hearing aid.
After contracting meningitis as a tiny baby, she was diagnosed with hearing problems around the age of three.
“I’m the second youngest of six children so my mam Barbara was quick to realise I was different to my siblings,” recalls Laura.
“Because I was so young when I started using a hearing aid — just one, I point blank refused to wear two — it was not something that bothered me too much.
“But my HSE hearing aid was big and clunky and hard to use.”
Laura remembers the battery often went dead at the worst moments.
“One Christmas, my hearing aid broke down and nowhere was open to get it fixed. I put the volume up to 90 on the TV and just sat right in front of it!”
Ahead of her nursing studies in DCU, Laura (26) got experience of hospital life while working as a care assistant in Beaumont Hospital.
She recalls: “Once I was earning my own money I decided to visit the Hidden Hearing clinic in Artane, Dublin near where I live and I am so glad I took that step.
“The free consultation is brilliant because you can have your hearing checked without any pressure.
“Barry and Anita have been fantastic to me and I always feel so welcome there.”
Laura purchased a high tech aid for one ear while using her HSE aid in the other ear.
“I quickly realised I had been missing out on an awful lot by having just one hearing aid. Looking back, I don’t know how I survived but I was just too stubborn!”
As a student nurse — Laura will graduate later this year — money is tight and two high tech hearing aids were not within her budget.
“I was joking to Barry that Hidden Hearing should set up a Gofundme for my hearing aids,” laughs Laura.
“I was just messing, of course. I had no idea that the GiveBack scheme existed!”
The young nurse was “shocked and overjoyed” when Anita called to tell her the good news and wearing two brand new Oticon hearing aids has made life so much easier for Laura.
“I honestly feel, for the first time, that I can hear like a normal person.
“It’s easier to have private conversations with hospital patients now I can understand them when they speak in a low voice or even a whisper.
“The clarity of sound around me is just amazing.”
Laura has dreamed of being a nurse since the age of 16, when her mam had treatment for cancer and she witnessed the kindness of medical staff.
“I love my job and I think being a hearing aid wearer myself has made me more empathetic to patients who have hearing difficulties.
“I always check that their hearing aid batteries are working because I know how stressful it is when you cannot hear properly.”
A keen sportswoman — she plays Gaelic for Clontarf and is training to run the Dublin City Marathon — Laura urges anyone who struggles with their hearing to take action.
“Go and get a hearing test, it won’t cost you anything. You won’t regret it.”
Book your free hearing test today on 1850 80 40 50 or click here to book online!