Can I Hear You Now?

After years of my ability to hear declining, along with increased ringing in my ears, I decided to go to an audiologist just to see what the real deal is and if anything could be done about it.  So, in the week between Xmas and New Year’s, I made an appointment and had my hearing tested.

Turns out, it wasn’t my imagination.  According to the audiologist and her fancy computer hearing testing machine thingie, I have mild to moderate hearing loss in both ears, especially for frequencies above 2kHz.  So now, I have hearing aids in both ears.

Hearing Aid

(One of) my hearing aids

I’ve had them for just over two weeks. They make a big difference in certain circumstances.  For example, at a busy restaurant the other day I could hear every word my husband said across the table, despite the music playing and the hum of conversation all around us.  I didn’t have to ask him to repeat every other word.  I easily understood everything the waitress said.  Everything was crisp and clear.

All the bells and whistles of all the electronic devices – the blinker of my car, the ding of the microwave, etc – all have a much higher pitch than I was aware of before.

I’m hearing the full range and nuances of music more than I could before.

And just now, as I was sitting out on the deck in the breeze with the chimes jingling, I took them out and listened – put them back in and listened – took them out and listened…  omg.  Without them, I was deaf to the rustling of the leaves on the trees and most of the ringing of the chimes.

One last example:  For years, I’ve been aware that my birding friends – most of whom are older than I am – could hear a lot of birds and other sounds that I could not.  Blackpoll warblers & blue-gray gnatcatchers are two specific birds I could never hear, but there were others.  It was frustrating even when I would go out birding on my own and I knew there had to be birds but I couldn’t hear them, so I couldn’t find them.

Thing was, I could barely hear blackpolls and gnatcatchers even on recordings, even when all else was quiet and I held the speaker up to my ear.

Now, with the hearing aids, I can easily hear the recorded songs of the birds that were silent to me before.  And I’m looking forward to spring bird migration season when I hope to be able to hear all the little birds in the trees and have more success at finding the little buggers when I go out in the woods.

My husband was concerned that my having to get hearing aids would discourage me, like make me feel old or broken.  But honestly, that hadn’t crossed my mind until he asked and hasn’t been anywhere near my feelings.  I feel more old and broken down by the changing texture of the skin on the back of my hands and around my eyes, although I’m not so vain that those things depress me… those are just changes that takes some getting used to.

But no, requiring hearing aids hasn’t make me feel old or broken.  They haven’t fixed the ringing in my ears yet (nothing can really do that, I’m told), but having them has made my life less frustrating.  And that’s a good thing.