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Can I hear you now?

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.

BUT.

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.”

  1. 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.”

What?

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:

Why You Should Use Your Hearing Aids Consistently

And one from a woman after my own heart:

Should you wear hearing aids all the time?

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?

Susan Rookshttps://grammargoddess.com/
With 25 years’ experience as an international speaker and workshop leader, Susan Rooks is uniquely positioned to help people master the communication skills they need to succeed. In 1995, Susan formed Grammar Goddess Communication to help business professionals enhance their communication skills. She creates and leads three-hour “Brush Up on Your Skills” workshops in three main areas: American grammar, business writing, and interpersonal skills. And recently she created and began leading introductory workshops to help business pros maximize their LinkedIn experience, offering it to Chambers of Commerce free of charge. As a copyeditor (and editor of nonfiction only), Susan has worked on projects ranging from blogs to award-winning children’s books to best-selling business books to corporate annual reports (with clients from half a dozen countries), ensuring that all material is professionally presented and free from grammatical errors. From the beginning, Susan’s only goal was to help everyone look and sound as smart as they are.

8 COMMENTS

  1. Susan — I don’t have them…yet. Definitely heading that way. Right now, my nemesis is tinnitus. A thousand cicadas…. And I can’t watch TV now without the captions.

    My mother-in-law’s story parallel’s yours. She only wears her hearing aids on occasion, and it drives my f-i-l crazy! He has to repeat everything. He’s even tried not repeating everything in defiance, but she still refuses to wear them for many of the same reasons you mentioned. I think there is another reason, but she’d never admit it.

    Her inability (unwillingness?) to hear clearly has led to some very humorous moments. She listens intently and then repeats back what she thought she heard. Most of the time what she thought she heard has no relevance, none, to what we were discussing.

    “Percy’s dog died?”

    “Mom, who is Percy?”

    It makes for some light moments around the dining room table.

    Glad you found a solution that works for you.

    • Well, when I realized how little I heard in that BOD meeting, it was just time to bite that proverbial bullet, Jeff, and find out what the current tech has to offer. And because I have several friends who use them and told me about how much they now help …

      Sorry about your tinnitus; that has to be really awful! I have something that’s either called auditory pariedolia or musical ear syndrome — both relate to hearing music where there is none playing. In my case, I hear men’s voices (yes, plural, like in a choir) singing the same syllables constantly — lalalalalal or something similar. If I put the TV on, I don’t hear the singing. And it happens indoors or outdoors … came on about 4 years ago, exactly when the wind turbines were built close to our village. Many others had worse experiences, and some moved away.

      Here’s an interesting link: https://www.tmsoft.com/blog/why-you-may-be-hearing-phantom-sounds/

      Life surely is odd sometimes, right, Jeff? But I have to say, these ear aids do make the TV easier to hear; it’s even clearer not just louder, which was my single wish!

  2. I am so happy that you – hopefully – gets something that works for you.
    The brain is such highly prized property that the neighboring functions might trespass on real estate that is not being used and appropriate a neuron or more for other purposes. That is point of no return.

    My mother got her first aids after she had 60% and 70% hearing loss resp, and suddenly found out that she shouldn’t lament that all the little birds didn’t live in her garden any more. They had been there all the time – and now that she could hear them, she started enjoying looking for them again.
    It might have been a good idea to listen to her children a bit sooner when they told her that getting help might make her feel less left out of the conversation.
    What we learned too late was that when people don’t respond, others stop engaging, and when people stop engaging, the relationship suffers. Mom’s quality of life has certainly increased with her ability to understand better what is going on around her, as have our relationships with her.

    • Oh, the birds here sound as loud as they might on my shoulder, Charlotte! And yes. The silence — my world wasn’t completely so, but I know I missed a lot! — isn’t good for us. Not good for our brain, apparently, which was my trigger point.

      Great that your mom at least DID get hearing aids, though; I’m sure it helped her with everything!

  3. Kudos to you for your tenacity, Susan! I know more than a few people who need hearing aids but refuse to get/wear them. I also know several people who have gone through the journey you have to get the right tests and the right aids and they are sooooo glad they did. I’ve been where you are but with my vision. When I finally gave in to have the lens replacement surgery done, I was able to see everything I’d been missing for so long. Hang in there… I know your brain… It would be having all kinds of FOMO if you couldn’t keep learning!!

    • Melissa!!!!!!!!!!! So good to see you here (hear)!!!!!!!! Yes, it’s a journey, but I think it’ll be worth the effort. Just really surprising to hear some sounds I wasn’t even aware of like my keyboard clicking. Yikes.

      And I had cataracts removed a few years ago, but I don’t think that’s quite the same thing as new lenses … is it? That sounds even scarier than having my cataracts removed. Good for you!

  4. Susan: Amen to all of this.I’ve had my devices for about five years, along with the app for them in my iPhone, and I’m still on the fence about them. Lucky for me, my wife is very patient. The best thing about the phone app is that when I need to, I can shut the hearing aids off!

    I hear you!

    BE

    • Yes, in a week, I have my next appointment to get the app and fine-tune these, Byron! Sure does take some getting used to, but at least I hear far better in just a day. Oh, and I didn’t realize the app lets us do that! We’ll see, and thanks!

      Susan

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