After months (okay, maybe years) of responding “what” to persons engaging me in conversation; or, missing much of the dialogue in movies I was watching; and, lastly, being told by my children that I couldn’t hear, I have succumbed and been fitted with hearing aids.
I didn’t go into this without some trepidation. First of all, I think of hearing aids necessary for only OLD people, and I don’t want to be thought of as elderly…oh, wait, I am getting old. (Notice, I said getting old.) Secondly, amongst the few people I know that have them, they always seem to be complaining about them – hearing too much noise, or messing with them to get them to work properly. My fear was that I would not be able to adjust to the aids, and I too, would not be successful wearing them. Add to these concerns, the cost of the devices (EXPENSIVE) and the fact insurance and Medicare pay very little in the way of reimbursement, and you might see why I was fearful as I made my appointment with the audiologist.
But, make the appointment I did with an audiologist recommended to me by a friend. The doctor, a woman, put me at ease immediately. Though she is likely several years younger than me, I would describe her as a grandmotherly type lady with a huge smile on her face and very cheerful. During the appointment she thoroughly tested my hearing and shared with me the results in easy-to-understand language. She answered all my questions and calmed all my fears. It was clear to me she is very passionate about helping people to hear better.
So I left the first appointment after indeed, placing an order for devices the doctor felt were most appropriate for me. She actually represents about ten hearing aid manufacturers so had many to consider for me. Turns out her favorite and the one she felt would work best for me is a Danish company – must be a sign as I am part Danish! There really is no risk in making a choice, as her routine is to give people 45 days in which to get used to the devices and make sure they are working well. If in that 45 days I decide these aids are just not working, she will fit me with a different pair.
I received my hearing aids a week after ordering them. Now, I am still in the 45 day trial period, and in fact, have had two adjustments made already. It seems that as my brain adjusts to the hearing correction, tweaking may be necessary to make the devices more effective, especially when first starting to wear them. Once, I have gotten comfortable with my new-found hearing ability, changes may not be needed for a long time. With this particular audiologist, adjustments are made for free for three years. The devices themselves have about a 8-10 year life span.
Just this week, an adjustment was made for me that did not increase the loudness, but made the sounds sharper. My hearing test shows that I have trouble with the higher pitched vowel sounds when listening to someone speak. That is why while watching movies, for instance, I could hear the dialogue, but could not always discern what was being said – very frustrating!
The bottom line here is I am very happy with the outcome of my decision to get help with my hearing. Yes, as a woman, I do have hair to hide the fact that I am wearing devices; but, they really are made such that even if I was bald, you may have trouble noticing I am wearing anything extra on my ears. I am happy to report I can now understand dialogue when I watch TV, I think I am asking “what” less frequently, and, in general, I am not missing out on what goes on around me.
By the way, I can adjust my devices for three different settings (many more are available) – master is the one I use most of the time, comfort is used when I am in a very noisy situation and don’t want to hear everything, and TV is a sharper version and allows me to hear the dialogue when watching a movie or tv program. A voice in my ear tells me which level I am using; she also tells me when my batteries are low. (Actually, just like choices one can make for Siri’s voice on iPhones, I can choose the voice to be male or female and even one with an accent.)
If you feel like your hearing is not what it used to be, I would suggest you not hesitate to get help. I’m here to tell you it is a very good thing to hear well.