I got a hearing test a few months ago when I was seeing an ENT about a staph infection in my right ear.
After the test, which was utterly fascinating, me with headphones on, the tech in a soundproof booth, my first thought was: I totally aced that.
My ears were picking up sounds so faint and subtle I felt like a dog picking up sounds no human ear could hear.
The test revealed that I was a candidate for hearing aids.
I knew my hearing wasn’t great. I need the TV louder than G does, for one thing. I also have chronic eczema in both ears and when it flairs I come to depend on my right ear over my left.
So I’ve been noticing stuff like that for a while.
But hearing aids? Ugh.
Nobody I have ever met who has gotten hearing aids has ever had anything good to say about them.
Me: “Well! How do you like your new hearing aids?”
What I am hoping they’ll say is: “Omg, they have totally changed my life!”
But people don’t talk about their hearing aids. There’s a kind of shame around hearing augmentation that there isn’t around vision augmentation.
Nobody is ashamed of suddenly needing readers after age thirty. But nobody wants to admit they need help hearing, ever.
There’s an age stigma. It’s the image of the old geezer cupping a hand around a big hairy ear, going, “Eh?? Speak up there, Sonny!”
I am not immune to this. I am vain. I feel old knowing I need hearing augmentation. I do want to hear with more clarity, but I don’t want a wad of silly putty sticking out of my ear, or one of those clear mysterious tubes which god knows where they go.
But I decided to suck it up and start the process of getting them because I’ve been reading the research. And the research says that even mild hearing loss affects cognition. The brain cells die if they don’t get used. Plus, there’s a direct correlation between hearing loss and Alzheimer’s.
So hearing aids it is. I need my brain.
Currently, I am road testing what they call behind the ear hearing aids. I am surprised at how much I like the added clarity they provide. I especially like how I can hear my own voice better, which enables me to control its modulation.
I absolutely love the Bluetooth.
I can listen to my audiobooks and music and podcasts on them. I take phone calls by just tapping my right ear.
I can adjust them using an app on my phone.
I call them my six thousand dollar iPods.
The deal-breakers for this kind of hearing aid for me is the whole behind-the-ear thing with the clear tube in the ear situation.
For me, this will not do.
Taking sunglasses on and off, the thing behind my ear falls off.
It gets in the way of my ball cap.
Forget taking off a mask. Within ten minutes of getting them I took my mask off in the parking lot of the clinic and they fell on the asphalt.
Every time my hair brushes against this receiver piece I hear a whoosh.
I wear a headset to teach and these two pieces of equipment don’t like each other at all.
So I had ear molds taken and my audiologist ordered an AI-powered set of completely-in-the-ear aids. She sent me the brand and model of these things and I went and looked them up and they sound like they’ll do everything except cook my dinner.
I am excited to try them. I think at first I might hate them.
But I want to learn to love them not only because I want to hear better and save my brain, but also because this style will be less visible and not get in my way.
June 9th is my appointment.