Wednesday, March 4, 2009

Hearing Aids at Large Meetings

The other day, I attended a large meeting for the first time since I got my new hearing aids. It was challenging to say the least.

For one thing, I could actually understand what the speakers were saying so I didn't have to spend the whole day desperately trying to understand the words. I was able to concentrate on the information the speakers were conveying. That was beyond wonderful. It has been years since I was able to do that at a large event!

The downside was the background noise. My hearing aids have a background noise reduction feature, but I haven't learned the knack of getting it adjusted just right. (I bought cheap aids that don't have automatic programs.) During breaks, the noise level was uncomfortably high. There were breakout sessions where they had various groups caucusing in different parts of the room. That was a challenge beyond the capabilities of my noise reduction software. I could hear just fine. Problem was I could hear everybody talking all at once and had a hard time understanding what was being said in my group. I learned that hearing too much is almost as stressful as hearing too little!

By the end of the day my nerves were seriously jangled and I had a dreadful headache.

Being able to hear seems to be one of those blessings/curses kind of things: I have to take the background noise with the ability to understand speech. There is no question that it's worth it. It's just going to take some getting used to.

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