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.