For some reason that I’ve yet to figure out, there seems to be a real stigma to hearing loss.
About 10 years ago, something slipped. It was then that I began to notice that while i was preparing dinner in the kitchen, I couldn’t always hear when my kids would shout down to me from their bedrooms – just a few steps up. What began as good-natured mommy ribbing morphed into a family “joke” leading to a not-so-mild irritation on their part. I was feeling their sense of utter frustration when I couldn’t hear them speak to me. This was happening more and more frequently – and not just at home while playing music in the kitchen.
My husband and I thought it was a complete game changer when we purchased wireless headphones for the bedroom. These are great for when one person wants to watch tv while the other wants to sleep or read. The headphones allow the user to hear the volume at any level by turning a knob right on the device, while anyone else in the room is in virtual silence!
However, what began as an act of consideration for one another’s winding-down routine to allow one another to adjust our personal environments, became a crutch for me. I noticed that the television volume that was comfortable for other people was just a bit too low for me. The wireless headphones were really just enabling me to mask my symptoms of early hearing loss.
Trips to movies and the theatre (two of my favorite pastimes) became increasingly challenging. When we went to go see Hamilton on Broadway, it confirmed that I had a real issue. Not sure if you’ve had the pleasure of seeing the show; it’s wonderful, but the real essence of the show is in the amazing lyrics. Luckily, I knew a bit about the history so again, I could fudge a bit. The “Fake it til you make it” approach only works for so long.
You’d be amazed how much of our conversations can be inferred by stringing together different pieces of dialogue. While the word “Hat” may technically fit in a particular sentence, I could very quickly process that it didn’t relate to a story I was being told. I found that the process of elimination worked very quickly when I needed it and I became quite adept at following along in everyday chit-chat. (It’s almost never “hat” by the way.)
Finally, my family begged me to get my hearing tested. My dad (still with us!) had early hearing loss, as did his mom before him. Truly, I thought a visit to the ENT would result in a diagnosis of waxy build-up or a case of tinnitus.
The year was 2010 and I was 43. I simply was not ready to hear “you have early hearing loss and here are your hearing aid options”.
So, I waited. It took me 6 years before I was mentally ready to go back, but go back I did.
My ear, nose and throat Doctor did a full exam and immediately referred me to the audiologist in his office who did a proper hearing test on me once again. Thankfully, my hearing loss hadn’t progressed in the time that elapsed between visits. She presented me with my choices of hearing devices; this was almost 4 years ago and I was impressed that I could pair one of the top-of-the-line models with my iPhone!
My app allows me to adjust the volume differently for various social situations, such as dining in a restaurant or being out at an arena. It’s pretty amazing technology and I wear them proudly. (I wanted them in hot pink, but found out those were strictly for children – not fair!) so I settled for white. Anything but the silly-putty color the old folks wore.
The technology on hearing devices changes just like all the rest of our electronics. It’s now time for me to upgrade to something new.
Apple – are you listening? I need a cool option!
Tomorrow, I am experimenting with Apple’s ear pods; I’ve read that they have a feature that can be set to filter ambient noise. I’m hoping for improvement in sound clarity and quicker syncing with my other devices.
Stay tuned as my quest for the perfect hearing solution continues. If you hear of anything that filters out bullshit, please message me asap.