For many years now, my hearing has definitely been sub-par. It’s no real surprise; most of my contemporaries suffer some amount of hearing loss. But mine was really bad.
A few years ago, I had my first hearing test and ultimately got (for a LOT of $$$) two aids, meant to help me hear better.
I don’t remember much about the test, but the folks seemed to know their business (and would I have even known if they didn’t?), and I couldn’t argue that I missed a lot of conversations even back then.
So, off I went into the hearing world … or so I thought.
Sad to say, what I remember most vividly was the NOISE that surrounded me all the time that I wore them. Birds. Cars. Trucks. Random stuff. Of course, it was normal to be startled; I hadn’t really heard the background stuff like that in a while. And I realized that I’d probably get used to it over time.
So, yes. The hearing aids definitely made sounds louder.
Talking with others didn’t improve my ability to hear to the degree I needed it to. Yes, voices were louder. Yes, the TV voices were definitely louder. But they weren’t necessarily clearer.
The words came at me kind of like clouds of grains of sand that surrounded me without giving me clarity of thought. I knew they were talking, but I still wasn’t getting the full message. What I needed was a thin line of separate words that made sense, both in scope and sound level. What I got was a noisy cloud.
I went back and forth with the folks at the company, and they fine-tuned the ear pieces several times, but … I just couldn’t make the whole thing work.
Did I have the wrong expectations?
Was the technology not up to my needs?
I tried for about six months, and then put the aids away.
And I continued to ask others to repeat themselves.
Fast-forward to May 24, 2021. Sitting in an in-person BOD meeting in a smallish room (for the first time in well over a year!), I was at one end of the long side of a rectangular table, with our BOD president next to me to my right at the end. I couldn’t hear what our GM at his desk, which was maybe 12 feet away, was saying. I turned to Mary and whispered “Can you hear Patrick?” Yes, she nodded. I asked again; she again nodded “Yes.”
- Clearly my ears had really gone downhill.
So I made an appointment with a local company, one that I researched and saw all good things about. The local office also got great reviews on Google, so off I went.
I liked my technician (Jenn) a lot, thankfully. I told her about what had happened years ago, and how I felt about it. She was NOT dismissive; she understood that my experience had not been the best.
And then the tests. Wow. WOW on steroids, friends!
Jenn got me seated in a tiny soundproof booth and told me what to expect. Click the button if I heard a ding or other sound.
Easy peasy. Listen. Hear. Click. Lots of different kinds of sounds, some loud, some not.
Then came the “Can you hear the words?” part.
She told me to at least guess at what I heard, because that would help her help me.
2. The first group were just single words: Cat. Dog. Big. Bit. House. Home. Sheep. Sheet. We went through several iterations of this type, alternating between a man’s and a woman’s voice.
Then the funny one: She told me to listen to a man’s voice asking me if I could hear a word.
Each time, I heard the man’s voice say several words, but for the life of me, I couldn’t quite get them. I mostly got the last one, but … I was desperately guessing the first few. After four or five of those attempts with me clearly missing the point, Jenn stopped the session, and told me that I only had to give her the last word; the first three were the man saying “Say this word.”
My poor ears heard something like “save sword” or “satisdird” or other nonsensical sounds. We both laughed at my misunderstanding, resumed the test, and at least I could just listen for the last word.
Bottom line, though? I need hearing aids. Not the slightest doubt.
So, here (hear?) I sit, one day after getting these things in my ears.
Do I love them? NO.
Will I wear them? YES.
Do they help? YES.
My TV is now turned down from 100% loudness to 60%. And yes, I can hear the words clearly.
Two friends already told me I’m not talking as loudly as I did before.
And I can hear most of what they’re saying! (OK, there’s still that friend who mumbles and sometimes turns away, but … )
I hear the computer keyboard click.
I hear the birds chirp so loudly it’s as though they’re sitting on my shoulder!
I hear my sandals click on the wood floor.
And my dogs barking … sheesh! Are they loud or what?
What is really helping me accept all this, though, is learning that my brain NEEDS to hear stuff to allow it to work its best.
Here are two articles out of a zillion on this topic online:
And one from a woman after my own heart:
So, the journey continues with another adventure. All in all, I’m grateful for the advanced technology, for the ability to afford it, for being smart enough to try it again, and for finally realizing that hearing isn’t a luxury; it’s a necessity in ways I’d never realized!
What has been your experience with hearing aids or other devices meant to help you make your life even better than it was, friends?