Wednesday, December 23, 2015

What did you say?

For years now my family has joked about my hearing loss. It’s not a profound loss by any means, but it does lead to a lot of frustration on everyone’s part. Too many times someone will ask me to get them a drink and I’ll respond with “Why would we build a rink?”

I’ve had my hearing tested a few times in the past, so I had a baseline when I went in a few weeks ago for another test. I was missing out on a lot more conversations lately, having to get people to repeat themselves more and just generally noticing the loss more.

Hearing loss is measured in decibels from 0-130. Normal hearing is considered anywhere in the 0-20 range and complete deafness starts around 90. It’s also measured across several different frequencies. You can have more of a loss with high pitch frequencies or low, deep frequencies.

My hearing test looks something like this:

I have a mild hearing loss in the higher frequencies. Compared to my last test from 2 years ago, I’ve lost about 10 decibels over all. My hearing also tested worse if there is any sort of back ground noise.

It was time to discuss solutions. I’m already using as many “tricks” as possible. I keep people on my right when we are walking and talking; I make sure that I can see a person’s face when we are in conversation; the phone is turned up as loud as it will go and we’ve used the close captioning on our TV for years. I’ve even used the closed captioning devices at the movie theater. After some discussion with the audiologist, I decided to try hearing aids. Since my hearing loss is fairly even in both ears, I would need 2 to keep things balance. Luckily they offer a 30 day, no money down, trial period.

They are so small!

I didn’t expect to find a lot of difference with the hearing aids in. After all, my hearing loss is minimal. But what a difference they have made! The first thing that Hilary noticed was that I wasn’t talking as loud as I usually do. When you can’t hear yourself, you naturally increase your volume. Conversations have been easier and clearer. I’m not missing key information from dialogue on TV. At work I was able to participate in a group conversation, where I would normally have just sat back, smiled, nodded occasionally and laughed when everyone else did because I couldn’t follow what was being said by everyone.

It’s been less than a week but I can already say that the trial is a success. I will see the audiologist again next week to check in on how it is going. And then I will have to make the big decision on whether or not I keep them. They are a significant financial investment, and while they are wonderful and do make a difference to how I hear, I’m not sure I’m ready to fork over that much cash right now.
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