Today I did something I have been putting off for the past three and a half weeks – I went to Pacific Hearing Service to buy new batteries for my hearing aids and have the dry tubes in the earmolds replaced. I stretched my last two batteries for over a month by not wearing my hearing aids any more than necessary. While I was waiting, it crossed my mind that I should finish the post that I started months ago. So here we go…
My hearing loss was detected when I was a child. At that time, the possibility of using hearing aids was not an option. Since I had normal hearing in the two lower frequencies and then a steep drop to a severe/profound loss in the other frequencies, lack of technology in those days was not in my favor. I remember my father telling me that one audiologist said I would be able to possibly benefit from a hearing aid when I was in my early teens if I lost some of the lower frequencies, but I’d have to pull it in a wagon to accommodate the batteries that would be needed to power such a device. Thank you but no thank you!
As I’ve mentioned previously, my hearing loss was a bilateral sensorineural loss that was progressive. By the time I was a junior in college the audiologist and I decided it was worth a try to use a hearing aid. My first hearing aid was a body aid with a wire going from the box or case that contains the electronic amplifier, batteries, and controls to the receiver and earmold. I used only one earmold in the left ear and wore the box part under my shirt, which can be annoying if a person can actually hear the rub of clothing against the amplifier.
I didn’t do so great with this hearing aid. However, it did make people more aware that I had a hearing problem when they saw the wire and earmold (this was long before earbuds and iPhones that are commonly used today) but I couldn’t use it for music or in loud environments. When I consider iPhones, Bluetooth, and all other types of devices that use earbuds or some type of earpiece, I have a difficult time understanding why people want to go around with something in their ears. I honestly don’t care to have anything in my ears unless necessary. I wonder if I’d be different today if I could hear the music, talking books, and whatever else people listen to.
Anyway, after several years of trying to use the body aid and as technology continued to improve, I was fit with two behind-the-ear aids. In fact, I’ve gone through several sets of behind-the-ear aids. Why several sets you may ask?
As my hearing changed I required more powerful amplification. Therefore I purchased more powerful hearing aids. Or, one time I could find only one hearing aid. I ended up buying a new one to replace the lost one. After nine months I took a jacket out of the closet when the weather was cold and you guessed it – there was the one lost hearing aid in my jacket pocket! Dare I mention that one of my Boston terrier puppies decided to chew one. Negative note: one hearing aid was ruined. Positive note: I retrieved the hearing aid before my puppy swallowed it.
Another time I struggled to get one son asleep for an MRI. At last he fell asleep. I placed him on the table for the test and stayed close by. Suddenly – Whoosh! – the right hearing aid went out. Then another whoosh as the left aid went out and all was silent! Not only did I ruin two behind-the-ear hearing aids but they were the best fit I had ever had. If I ever had to say I loved hearing aids, it would have been that pair.
All my hearing aids, until the ones I use today, were of analog technology. Today almost everything is digital and of course they are supposed to be superior to what once was. I disagree with this. I find the digital aids to be more of a sharp sound and I prefer a mellow quality, similar to the sounds I once heard. I have a hard time tolerating my hearing aids even though they have been fit to my audiogram and adjusted to how they should be.
Hearing what is important is truly lacking for me. For example, I was engaged in a conversation with someone at the kitchen table last week. I had my hearing aids on for the purpose of hearing the vowel sounds to compliment the consonants that I understand through speechreading. Suddenly I heard something that totally covered up the speech of my friend and it was so frustrating. My friend finally told me it was the sound of running water coming through the wall of a bathroom fifteen feet from where we were sitting. Now, will someone tell me why it is so important to hear the water when I want to hear speech!
For a long time I thought when I used my hearing aids I would hear the same as others. That fact is far from the truth, just ask my sons. I’ll admit that I’ve become a selective user of hearing aids. I know this is the last thing audiologists want to know but that’s who I am and how I function best.
What about you? Do you use hearing aids? If so, I’m sure you have stories to tell. Go ahead and share one or two in the comments here.