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I don’t need hearing aids!

I have heard so many people tell me their spouse needs hearing aids but refuses to get them.  It is hard for some people to motivate to take the plunge, so I would like to share with you something my cousin, Susan, wrote to me in an email.  It is such a great description how hearing loss can creep up on you and how hearing aids can improve the quality of your life.  I hope her experience will motivate some of you who are undecided.

Dear Marilyn,
I know this is your specialty! My comments are probably just like those of many other people with whom you’ve spoken over the years….the loss was gradual, so I didn’t realize what was happening. I thought my husband had started to mumble, I kept asking him to repeat—I couldn’t understand him when his back was turned, or he was too far away, or he leaned on his hand so it covered his mouth (and I couldn’t read his lips–but I didn’t realize what I was doing)….then it seemed like EVERYONE was mumbling! I could always hear the volume, but I couldn’t distinguish the words—–especially women’s voices, children’s voices, radio, TV, telephone….. I started to avoid conversation and contact because I just couldn’t follow clearly….wrapped myself in a cloak of quiet solitude…. And
when I taught my folk dance classes, I couldn’t hear the beat of the music very well… Most bird songs disappeared. No crickets! None at all! Whew–finally I had a good diagnostic test (after driving my husband crazy with my requests to repeat—what? what? what did you say?) and found I had lost most of the upper frequencies, in particular those that define the consonants, so I couldn’t distinguish back, track, pack, sack, stack, lack, etc—all sounded the same–some low tones too, but seems those high frequencies were the worst. The test also explained why so many sounds were impossible to distinguish:  rain on windows vs. refrigerator motor vs. car passing on the road vs. washing machine vs. TV or live conversation in the next room vs. all sorts of other ordinary things all were to me the same ambiguous rumbling with no special clue for identification…because the special defining tones (similar to the consonants that distinguish one word from another) were gone.

Anyway, I actually bought my hearing aids at Costco, because the price was so reasonable. The brand is “ReSound,” a wireless receiver-in-the-ear type of instrument, tuned specifically to correct my loss. (The receiver is tiny, connected by a thin tube to the behind-the-ear case that holds the battery & multi-function switch.) They let me try a set in the store before making my decision—–for 20 minutes I walked around with the programmed aids in place, and to my delight I could distinguish separate conversations around me, determine the directional source, understand the words–instead of just hearing an ambiguous wall of noise all around me….what a revelation! So—- I bought these, and I have them checked and adjusted every 6 months, have my hearing retested each year— They work very well for me. I wore them full time from the first day on, and when we went back to Italy for the second time, I was thrilled to have recovered the ability to hear, comprehend, and reproduce the sounds of the language correctly. Another sort-of funny affirmation occurred when we were camping one time in south central Washington during the summer. With the hearing aids I was so happy to be hearing a monumental chorus of crickets—-then when I was ready to go to sleep and took my aids off—-ABSOLUTE SILENCE. Aids back in—the full cricket concert magically resumed!!!!

Well, that’s my story, you’ve probably heard it many times before. (No, I have never heard it described so eloquently, Susan!)

Many thanks to Susan for letting me share her story!  Not everyone adjusts to hearing aids so quickly, but with persistence you should be able to find a pair that  works for you.  Be sure your audiologist or hearing aid dispenser gives you at least a 30-day trial and is willing to fit you with other hearing aids if you are not satisfied with the first pair.  Soon you’ll be hearing those crickets and birds again!