Almost every day I remember that we human beings are an odd lot. Seems we’ll take care of lots of medical issues, but when it comes to hearing, we too often resist.
I recall my dad, years ago, finally being nagged into getting his hearing checked after we were so annoyed by the loud sounds of gunshots on the television shows he watched. But after receiving his new set of hearing aids, he insisted they were uncomfortable and he promptly returned them.
Was I any better when it was my turn?
I was nagged about the volume setting I was using when watching television, but still ignored the need until I became aware that if my hearing continued to deteriorate, I would have to give up the job I love.
I’m not particularly vain, so why did I delay? I still don’t have an answer. Perhaps part of it was the price — not a small sum, none of which was covered by insurance almost two years ago.
Still, I fully expected to be told my problem was a wax buildup that could be simply treated at little cost.
The test results proved otherwise. With testing, I learned the difficulty was affecting both ears when I’d thought only one needed correcting.
No hard sell. Did I want to take corrective measures? Absolutely.
My formative years were in the 1960s, but it wasn’t a factor of loud music that damaged my ability to hear. I was brought up in a musical family. Mom was a piano teacher and a fine musician in her own right and my favorite uncle was a professional musician — singer and trumpet player — traveling the country with Eddy Duchin’s band. My tastes then and now run to melody and harmony, not rock, rap and what I often regard as discordant sounds.
The hearing difficulties I was experiencing were simply a factor of age.
Suffice to say, the technology has come a long way since my dad’s day and from the time I slipped on my new hearing aids, I was delighted with their effectiveness.
For the vain, today’s hearing aids are often tiny and not particularly noticeable.
I write about this now after many conversations with Islanders who tell me it would be a public service, since they’re either noticing their own hearing losses or live with someone who is and might benefit from my experience.
When I go to a movie or a concert, I sometimes have to remove the hearing aids because the sound is too loud. My television volume is no longer set to 40 or higher and I can hear dialogue clearly between 15 and 25, depending on the show.
In fact, when I’m in the room with others, I’m sometimes asked to raise the volume, because while dialogue is clear to me thanks to my hearing aids, others watching with me sometimes can’t hear.
Looking back, I recall that when I developed a need for reading glasses in my 40s, I didn’t hesitate to march myself to an ophthalmologist and to follow through, ordering the glasses I needed.
Only part of my resistance can be attributed to cost. Prices are still pretty high, but they are dropping and there are even some insurers willing to help meet the cost.
I’m told by my audiologist that it’s not rare to find people who even after testing reject the idea of correcting a hearing problem. When I asked about the effect lack of adequate hearing could have on one’s life, she told me it’s not unusual for those who don’t get hearing aids to become isolated, frustrated at their inability to engage in normal conversations.
We live in an aging community and I know I’m not alone in experiencing a hearing loss.
If you have any concerns, I encourage you to do what you would with any other health-related issue: See a qualified professional and find out whether you might benefit from a correction that can open up a world of wonderful sounds you may be missing.
Take it from one who can hear you now, you won’t regret it.