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A READER'S STORY: The World Is Such A Noisy Place

By Fritzy Dean

I waited as long as I could - longer than I should have, truth be told. I was tired of constantly asking people to repeat. I knew they were tired of it, too.

The hearing loss is so insidious, though. At first you think your ears are “stopped up,” allergies perhaps. Then you notice everyone seems to mumble. Everyone? Customer help lines are the worst. Mostly, you are speaking to someone whose first language is NOT English. Then add the technical jargon and poor phone line connections - it was torture.

So recently, I surrendered and purchased pricey little hearing aids. I was told they are “state of the art” - the reason for the high price tag, no doubt.

The nice (young) audiologist gave me a lesson in how to insert the dainty little devices into my ears. In fact, he had me do it twice while he watched. He passed me with flying colors, so I was surprised the next morning when it took a big chunk of time to get them right.

He told me to point my index finger, then push it against the ear bud. I couldn’t remember if my finger was supposed to be inward towards me, or away from me. I tried both. I feel sure I looked as if I was trying to drill a hole through my head from ear to ear.

I can tell you with complete authority there is a learning curve to wearing the tiny little devices. He told me to pay attention to new sounds. I truly can’t avoid it.

The “new” sounds are often sounds I just haven’t heard in a long time. How loud and proud the birds sing in the morning! I discovered my doorbell has a long, long echo. I learned to brush my teeth before inserting the ear buds. Otherwise, it sounded like Niagara in the sink, And the brushing!! Like a road grader over gravel in my mouth – ouch.

My lovely wood floors I had put in several years ago? They are so squeaky. It sounds like a moose walking across the room. Who knew?

Now you are wondering if I am glad I did it. The answer is absolutely. I can now hear the soft little voices of the children at the school where I volunteer. I no longer blast the TV so the walls vibrate and disturb the neighbors. My family seems less annoyed with me - always a good thing.

And guess what? There’s an “app” for that. Yes, these fancy little ear assistants have their own app. I can direct the sound, muffle the sound, adjust the direction of the sound, all while pretending to be a millennial checking my phone. I am amazed it took an old people's appliance to drag me into the 21st century.

I do confess to welcoming my quiet house back every night when I take the loud speakers out and drop them in their cute little padded box.

Ah, there. That’s better.


Our noisy world ~~ today's story ~~ what fun and so well put !!

I’ve been wearing hearing aids for 4 years. I think of them as necessary as glasses. Most of my friends don’t know I wear them—I don’t make a big deal about it, and I’ve learned (after much practice) how to discreetly change the battery if it dies in the middle of an outing. I have persuaded several friends and family members to get hearing aids when they discover I’ve worn them unobtrusively for years. The days of the squealing and large transmitters are over!

My lack of hearing affected my relationships with members of my soft spoken family, who thought I was ignoring them, and often left me out if conversations. i still have to ask them not to walk away while speaking, as I still rely on lip reading for understanding (which I hadn’t realized).

Interesting factoid: some people, although hard of hearing, experience a acute pain with very loud noises. I am one of them. Luckily I can turn the aids off easily if an ambulance comes by, but I still have to cover my ears. Leaf blowers are another agony. But they are temporary. What is not is the blessed relief of being part of society again, being able to hear my family, my friends in a crowded restaurant, attending live theatre, etc. I feel reborn! Thank you, modern technology.

Fritzy - Sounds like a very familiar story (pun intended!). I went through a half dozen well recommended Audi's/Physicians and three sets of very expensive hearing aids. Very awkward situations - no wonder only 11% of folks who buy them keep them. The others 'throw them in the bureau drawer and forget about it!'
It is humiliating, embarrassing, and extremely expensive for such a tiny, almost invisible object.
When I asked a more trusted Physician why they couldn't 'get it right' - he said, "It's an art form. It is impossible for him to know exactly what is that I am hearing or not hearing."
So . . . I finally gave in and joined up with my local Veterans Medical Center.
What has taken me through 8 years of disappointment, the VA fixed the problem in 20 minutes!

All right. It's time to consider ear plugs, at least for those expected noisy gatherings and dinners.

Thanks for the reminder, Fritzy, and in an enjoyable, practical manner that sure convinced me!

I had hearing loss suddenly in one ear when I was 50. I manage with one good ear because the hearing aids were cumbersome, and cost an arm and a leg. It's a shame for many that the cost is so high and most insurance companies do not pay for them. I'm glad to hear that they have helped some!

Try Costco. Free testing to anyone and no pushiness. My husbands insurance paid for half. I don't try to even talk to him if he doesn't have his hearing aids in. He makes up words that I didn't even say and answers questions that I didn't ask.
Guessing game on his part I guess.

Loved the story! It describes my experience, exactly!

Don't need 'em yet, but such excellent advice - and funny at the same time...

Good story! I most likely need them but can't afford them and am not sure I'd have the patience to deal with them anyway. Maybe if I live another couple of years, the price will become more affordable, and by that time I'll REALLY need them.

I would not be without my aids!! Though I admit that I still need to ask some folks to repeat at least I am not left out of conversations due to my lack of hearing.

Costco is my go to place for hearing aids - they have some of least expensive aids around and are always quite helpful. They also are not in the least pushy. And their batteries are super cheap!Sidney

Loved this, and thanks for Costco advice.

I keep wondering how people manage not to lose these tiny expensive things.

Gets ready to install them... oh wait, is that a downy woodpecker on my deck?

Looks for glasses, gets hungry, makes sandwich.

Doorbell rings and rings and rings..

Neighbour was bringing freshly made PB cookies..

Oh well..

Hope my set includes mitten strings..

How strange this story hit me today. My hearing test shows I need these aids. Like I didn't know it before when TV shows people were mumbling. lol

Excellent story. Thank you for your honest, clear assessment of what hearing loss does to us. The bit about utilizing an app to increase clarity for the environment your’re in is incredible. Hope Costco aids have that feature.
And they don’t cost a small fortune.

Yes, these little devices are great.........just not for parties and restaurants, I now like my conversations best one at a time.

I agree they are simply aids like glasses and I am glad to have them. My actual hearing loss is not huge but due to my measles related tinnitus (don't get me started on the anti vaccine nonsense. I nearly died at age 6!) I still have issues. The idea is to give me the best hearing acuity possible so I can maybe hear over the ringing, buzzing, whistling. I want to restress what someone said about the "art" of audiology. With the computer programs that can digitally measure adjustment, overall hearing can be improved enormously. But an audiologist who understands your issues and has the touch can tweak then even more.

Thank you to all who took time to comment on my little story. I wrote this several mo the ago and am happy to report I am now more comfortable with the precious little devices. Grateful we live in an age where I don't need an ear trumpet!

Fritzy, I’m so happy for you! I’m happy for myself too since I got my very expensive hearing aids about two months ago. I have been hearing impaired for over a decade but didn’t think hearing aids would help with the awful tinnitus I have 24/7. The screeching. The ringing. The constant buzzing. ALL. THE. TIME.

When I took my hearing test the doctor programmed results for each ear / hearing aid. She walked/talked out of the room and down the hall, having her back to me the entire time. I could hear each and every word she said. I was in love then and knew I must have those tiny devices no matter the cost. We even tested a remote microphone for Jeff to wear when we ride bikes. He can be several feet ahead of me and talk into the microphone and I hear his voice very clearly. Another miracle.

My hearing aids gave me life again, a rebirth of sorts. I thought everyone mumbled, especially my husband, and I practically gave up trying to have conversations with him. I secluded myself and didn’t go out as much because I couldn’t hear, and I know I was a drag with other people because I had to constantly ask them what they said (ask Jan). But NOW I can hear the winds blow. I can hear the wind chimes. I can hear the birds sing. I can hear myself pee. I can hear the doorbell. I can hear on my phone because the sound goes straight to my hearing aids. I can hear my puppy’s toenails clicking on the floor. I can hear what people say to me. I love it all. And I am incredibly grateful to have my hearing aids.

Now to the cost: hearing aids $6500 ; remote microphone $250
My insurance paid over $5000 for hearing aids and $200 for microphone. Now I’m waiting to see what Jeff’s insurance will pay.

Ahhh, the loneliness of not getting the entire conversation or just nodding the head to convey comprehension when there is not - being hard of hearing is a struggle to say the least. Mine started before I was 40 due to a severe allergy to cigarette smoke and constant ear infections. I got my first aids at 43 because I worked in the public library and hearing was a fundamental part of my job. Now 22 years later with my app like yours, I cannot live without them. Thanks for sharing, Fritzy. I love your style and "ear" for detail!

You are so humorous, You are great!
I love your appreciation of life.
Thank you for feeding us with positive energy.

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