Week 13: A New Sound

This week my something new is one I have been resisting for months (maybe even years if I’m honest). Before I get into it, here’s a little background. I am hard of hearing, and as a result I have had to wear hearing aids for over a decade. I have a love/hate relationship with my hearing aids. On the one hand, I am very thankful they exist, that they enable me to hear things I otherwise would miss, and I am thankful I am in a position in life where I am able to get them. On the other, I hate the ringing I hear when a particular tone causes feedback, or when something gets too close to my head (such as when someone hugs me). I hate when the battery starts to die in the middle of a conversation causing me to miss part of what was said and then stop the conversation to change the battery. I hate how much they cost and the fact that they are not covered by my insurance, (I could go on a very long rant on that topic, so we will leave it there for now), and I hate how when I go to the audiologist office to get my hearing aids services, the posters on the wall are all of people clearly of retirement age. It would be nice to have someone my age who wears hearing aids to talk to, someone who can relate…
Anyway, I have always worn in-the-ear aids, I’ve had to update them a couple times as my hearing has worsened, but over the past several months, maybe even years, the problem has clearly worsened to the point where the hearing aids just weren’t working enough. The last time I got new hearing aids, the over-the-ear aid was suggested, but I resisted. In my mind, it was bad enough I had to wear hearing aids, but to wear aids that people could see was just not a step I was ready to take. So, a couple months ago, I discussed the option of an over-the-ear aid and finally I decided the daily misery and isolation I was feeling from not being able to hear normal conversations was worse than the idea of an over-the-ear hearing aid, so I got them. I had to wait a couple weeks for them to be customized and delivered, but I got them the day before the writing conference I wrote about in my previous entry.
I still don’t love the fact that I need hearing aids, but I definitely love my new hearing aids. With the technology currently available for my over-the-ear aids, I can adjust the sound with an app on my phone, they have Bluetooth, so I can listen to music and take calls on my phone without came without needing to take my aids out and put headphones in. That was always frustrating when I was around people and we were doing separate things. If I was listening to music, then they said something, I’d have to take out the headphones, put in my hearing aids, and by then the moment had passed. It was frustrating for all involved. My new aids also came with an accessory that is basically a directional mic that the person I’m talking with can clip to their shirt, which makes it easier to hear them in crowded, noisy situations.
I feel like my whole attitude is changing now that I am not struggling to hear every day. I used to have to ask “what?” multiple times in every conversation because I couldn’t hear what people were saying, and engaging in group conversations was so frustrating that I would just tune out and remove myself from the conversation entirely because that was less stressful than not hearing what was happening around me.

Now I don’t have to ask people to repeat themselves because I can hear them the first time. It so much easier, not just for me but for the people I’m talking to. I can ask questions and engage in conversations because I am not using all my energy to piece together bits of what the other person is saying. I had no idea of how much I was truly missing before. People have noticed I seem happier, that they don’t have to talk as loud, that I’m not talking as loud and that the TV isn’t turned up as loud as it used to be. Best of all, I’m happy.
There are still things I’m getting used to, sometimes the sound is tinny when I’m using the Bluetooth function, and since I use these more than my old aids, the batteries go faster, but overall this is definitely a change for the better, and one I’m very thankful I made.

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