Saturday, October 31, 2015

Sudden hearing loss - on hearing aids

It takes some doing to admit that you need a hearing aid.  I first wrote about my own hearing loss here. Like needing glasses when one's arm becomes too short, needing a hearing aid is an admission of some kind...we must admit that our bodies need help in order to function at optimum level. And at the same time, hearing aids carry a stigma, just like glasses can. Have you ever heard yourself shouting at a person and thinking "this person simply cannot comprehend what I am saying?" This is the stigma we all need to keep in check; it is most often directed at our elders.

I suspect many people do what I have done...try and deny the severity of the sensory loss as long as possible. It took a spiritual teacher to tell me  "well, if you choose not to wear one, you are essentially telling the world that you don't want to hear."  Um, well, ok, I took myself off to the audiologist the next week. Nothing like a good spiritual truth to see (hear?) the light!

My audiologist could be my daughter, she is so young and enthusiastic. I asked "how did you come to this vocation" and she proudly said "my mother is an audiologist." So I love that. I asked her if the Baby Boomers like me mostly want the invisible, completely-in-the-ear-so-as-not to-be-visible models, and she said yes, but they do not work as well and have major drawbacks, like you cannot take it out and put it in yourself. So I  opted for the next best kind, the kind that fits discretely behind your ear.

These small things are exceedingly expensive. Thousands of dollars. Medicare does not contribute towards their cost. Not one penny. This is why our wise elders often have old devices. Who can afford these on a fixed income?  My last parish and my bishop graciously pitched in the last time I needed to buy one.

I chose platinum grey to match my hair (!) but also ordered a red and orange "Ear Gear" protector for when I am out on the water. The Ear Gear is made out of Lycra and prevents the inevitable shorting-out when the device gets wet.  Coach said the other day "it looks like a shrimp!"...and I have to agree. I left it in the locker room one day and people were trying to guess what it was...a fishing lure? A strange piece of jewelry?  I have decided that it is my responsibility to speak openly about this little device which helps me hear SO much. It is basically an amplifer and microphones (tiny holes in the grey housing) connected to a speaker in your ear via a wire. Mine speaks to me, saying things like "battery low" and "right ready" to tell me it is working.  There is a little plastic doo-dad that helps it stay securely on your ear. Mine has a fancy function called "reverse focus", which means I can turn off all the microphones other than the rear one...handy when I want to hear what the rower behind me is saying!


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