I’m 53 years old and have worn hearing aids from Hearing Health Center for the past two years. I was told I needed hearing aids when I was in my 30’s, but refused to believe it.
People who meet me, or even those who have known me for years, don’t know I wear hearing aids because they’re barely visible. But, as I love to say now, “I wouldn’t care if they were the size of ear muffs because my life is so much better now that I can hear.”
In my 30’s and 40’s I noticed I had trouble understanding what people said. When I began to annoy MYSELF by asking people to repeat themselves, I developed a very convincing head nod, hoping I wasn’t agreeing to babysit a friend’s tarantula for the weekend.
I went for periodic hearing tests and promptly tossed the ENT doctor’s written recommendation into the trash when I got home. I was not going to get hearing aids.
I had a quiet upbringing. I worked at a clothing store, a grocery store, and a bank throughout high school and college. After graduating college, I was hired as a copywriter for the Sears Catalog. I sat in a large room full of other writers in cubicles. On a daily basis, the noise level in that room reached the fever pitch of a library.
If I had worked in a steel mill, operated a jackhammer, or directed airplane traffic on an airport tarmac, I would be able to understand my hearing loss better. I was never the drummer or even a backup singer/dancer for a loud rock band on tour, but I’m not giving up that dream anytime soon.
Two years ago, when my kids and husband became, let’s just say, a little impatient with my inability to hear them, I agreed to have another hearing test. A new Hearing Health Center had just opened in our area, so I made an appointment to go there instead of my ENT.
When I called, the receptionist suggested I bring along someone whose voice I knew well, so of course I asked my friend Rosa, who has a slight Argentinian accent and sometimes speaks in Spanish instead of English, to come with me.
After a thorough exam and test by the audiologist, I was told I had severe hearing loss in my left ear and moderate to severe loss in my right ear. Idiopathic nerve damage was slowly robbing me of the ability to hear, and to differentiate between consonants. (Over time, mixing up consonants made for some very funy converstations.)
As you can imagine, I took that news about as well as if I’d been told I needed five root canals – – without Novocaine. The audiologist placed amplifiers on my ears to give me an idea of what hearing aids could do for me. I heard doors squeaking as they opened and closed. I heard the traffic outside the office.
But the loudest sound I heard was coming from Rosa who was sitting next to me playing with a candy wrapper. It was so annoying I finally asked her to stop. She and the audiologist looked at each other and smiled.
At first I didn’t understand why they were smiling. But slowly I understood. I could hear.
Not just another pretty face, that Rosa. She had been playing with the candy wrapper before the amplifiers were placed in my ears, but I didn’t hear it. The audiologist told her she was brilliant for coming up with that idea.
Recently I purchased a Phonak ComPilot, a bluetooth device with a microphone. When I wear it around my neck, I can receive and make phone calls complete with caller ID. I can also adjust the volume of my hearing aids, and listen to music streaming from my phone or MP3 player directly through my hearing aids.
When I remove the necklace from the ComPilot and set it down on a table or next to my yoga mat, I can adjust it to block out background noise and just focus on the voice i want to hear.
Sometimes I sing out loud along with the music in the middle of the produce aisle at the grocery store because only I can hear it. I don’t care if people look at me sideways because it’s so much fun. Many people have asked me how they can get a ComPilot. I just giggle to myself and tell them, “I’m sorry, but you need to wear hearing aids to get one of these.”
As an unofficial spokesperson, and an extrememly grateful client, I want to help spread the word about what The Fisher Foundation does. Established in 2008, by Dr. Ronna Fisher, Au.D., the owner and founder of the Hearing Health Center, the Fisher Foundation strives to “increase the accessibility, affordability, and public awareness of hearing health. The Foundation’s mission is to enhance the quality of life through better hearing.”
Dr. Fisher says, “We don’t want finances to be the reason someone cannot hear. That’s why we are holding our first annual Hike 4 Better Hearing. Funds raised will be used to help people obtain hearing aids at low or no cost.”
Tomorrow’s event will offer the public the chance to meet many hearing aid company representatives, as well as the audiologists from Hearing Health Center. There will be raffle prizes, snacks, and the opporuntiy to schedule a FREE hearing test at one of Hearing Health Center’s four locations.
If I were you, and I had trouble hearing, I’d schedule a free hearing test. Your life will only get better from there.