Coming to grips with loss of hearing.
Boomer Girl writes about the discovery of her hearing loss. Calling it a blessing and a curse.
Years ago, after my ears inexplicably started ringing somewhere in the stratosphere above High C, I had my hearing tested. An hour later, diagnosed with tinnitus and a mild low-frequency hearing loss, I left the audiologist’s office and drove straight home to the Isle of Denial.
She tries to make the best of it by saying sometimes it’s a blessing when you don’t hear what people are saying about you.
I have tinnitus and I’ve had it as long as I can remember. I failed a third grade hearing test because I could hear tones when there were no tones. I was individually tested and passed – probably because they just didn’t believe I could have a hearing loss.
So I led my life with the constant “ringing” in my ears. I have heard small wind chimes that come close to duplicating my “ringing.” The American Tinnitus Assn. has a CD that supposedly replicates tinnitus. It comes close, but tinnitus is so individualized, I couldn’t believe it. Some people hear whoosing, others like a babbling brook.
Not so bad? 24/7 it can be.
I also have sleep apnea and restless legs. So my doc gave me Clonazepam which knocks me out and the tinnitus doesn’t interfere with getting to sleep. I’m lucky that my wife likes to go to sleep with the TV on. She would prefer WBBM-AM Chicago radio, but we’re too far away to get it consistently.
So I turn on the news, darken the screen, set the sleep timer and get to sleep quickly.
For the past fifteen years, I have had trouble hearing conversations in noisy situations. Restaurants were the worse: rattle of dishes and the under current of conversation sometimes made it impossible to hear someone across the table. So I read lips as much as I could without looking goofy. At party, I laughed when everyone else did. Sometimes too little or too much, I could tell by the way my wife looked at me. Going to social events was not pleasant for me, so we often left early.
Then I started to notice other boomers were wearing hearing aids.
But vanity kept raising it’s ugly head. I just didn’t want to wear anything that stuck in my ear, or looped over the top of my ear.
My wife kept after me to go to the audiologist again (it had been three years) and she wanted to go with me.
We went and what convinced me to get hearing aids was his statement:
(to my wife) He is not ignoring you, he can’t hear you. You need to be in the same room with him when you talk to him.
(to me) You need to get hearing aids.
There it was. On the chart. My tinnitus was still about the same – loss of high ranges, loss of low ranges, but a critical range hand changed. And that is the range where female conversation takes place.
After a good ear cleaning he suggested some hearing aid retailers and sent me packing.
I now wear Vivatone hearing aids. They are very small – so small that I had them on for over an hour before my wife noticed, and then it was because I was sitting at the computer and she was standing to the side and a little behind me.
I don’t think they have helped my hearing loss. But I do think my tinnitus is better because as the audiologist explained, I’m hearing more external sounds to drown out the internal sounds.
My advice to Boomer Girl – get the hearing aids, with the right hairdo, nobody will see them.