Tuesday, February 10, 2009


I have written about my hearing loss before.  I first noticed a problem with my hearing when I was a teenager. My doctor told me at the time that there was nothing that could be done to help my hearing loss. In recent years, I tried single hearing aids (one ear only).  That just did not work.  Perhaps the only truth they tell in trying to sell hearing aids is that two heaing aids are better than one -- one for each ear. 

Thirty years after I first noticed a problem with my hearing, I have found myself less and less able to cope with daily life. I get confused about what people say in meetings.  I can't understand most of what people say on telephone conference calls. I struggle to understand dialogue on television.  I avoid going to restaurants or other crowded places because I can't understand individual conversations in noisy environments.  

Getting through each day has become exhausting because I have to concentrate so hard to understand what people are saying to me. Too often, I can't really figure it out, and I guess.  Sometimes I guess wrong and give really inappropriate responses to questions or comments from my bosses and co-workers.  I can't begin to express how humiliating it is when I do that ... and the person I'm talking to looks at me like I'm some kind of moron. 

My problems in communications have been growing worse in recent years. Recently, it has gotten so bad, I had to do something.  I finally broke down and went to a hearing clinic to have my hearing checked.  The results did not really surprise me, but it freaked me out.  The price for the hearing aids they recommended was in the neighborhood of $5000.  I was prepared to pay that, but decided to check online one last time.  I found a pair of hearing aids very similar to what I had selected for a fraction of the price, and with a 30 day money-back guarantee.  I decided to give it a try. I would try the aids for 30-days to see if I could tolerate them.  I ordered the new behind-the-ear, open-fit hearing aids.

I picked up the aids at the post office on Tuesday.  I thought it would take me half the evening to read the instructions and get them set up.  My husband decided to go hang out with his buddies in order to get out of my way.  Less than five minutes after he left, I had them in my ears and working. It was as though I had been watching TV with the sound turned almost all the way off for most of my life! Most of my understanding was based on a combination of lip-reading and guess-work from body language. 

Immediately after putting the aids in my ear, I could hear!!
In the two days since, I have heard sounds I have not heard in years: birds singing; doors slamming (Lord, do we have a lot of doors slamming at work!); my assistant's radio playing; conversations taking place in the hall. It has been an amazing experience. The world has opened up to me in whole new ways! My life is an adventure, which now includes an audio component it has not had for a long time.

If these hearing aids only last a few months and I have to end up buying the expensive ones, that will be okay. The point is that I have been given back something I thought I had lost forever.  

After my third day with the aids, I continue to be astonished and amazed at how quickly I have adapted to them and how dramatically they have changed my life. I'm much more relaxed because I don't have to concentrate so hard on understanding conversations, and I'm more confident that I am not going to make a fool of myself with inappropriate responses to questions I didn't understand.

As I said, above: I have been given back something I thought I had lost forever.   I failed to add that I am so incredibly grateful for this miracle I have no words to describe it.

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