As I drove, my hot pink ear buds rested in my ears, blasting music from my smartphone sitting in the cup holder beside my seat. Silence is a blessing to have, but having very little simulation in my ears for over 72 hours when I have had hearing aids for nearly 30 something years, it was a little unnerving.
The previous day, when I had to go make some videophone calls, I had my headphones and thought I could listen to music while I worked on my blog at the library. It was not meant to be. I had the unfortunate experience of having someone, who was ignorant, abruptly approach me and say, “It’s too loud!” I was startled and embarrassed. He didn’t even stay to let me explain and apologize. I knew the library was a place of quietness, and I had no idea that the music leaked out loudly from my ear buds. I immediately muted my computer, thus turning off the music. It did leave me rattled, and I tried once more to apologize to the gentleman, but he wouldn’t listen. Instead he waved me off grumpily. I didn’t stay around, that’s for sure.
It had been three years since I last had my hearing tested, and my hearing aids were roughly four to five years old. That’s pretty much the life of most hearing aids. I braced for the fact it might be time to get new ones, and they are not cheap and can run up to being around $8,000 for both. Fortunately, Insurances are now starting to help in paying for these expensive pieces of equipment. This little piece of knowledge was a comfort me for me.
Once I was seated in my new audiologist’s office to discuss what needed to be done, I placed my unfortunate pair of hearing aids in front of me. One in three pieces and the other looking clean from disuse. We both laughed at the dismay of the broken one. “I can definitely fix the broken tubes for you.” She picks up the other one, and I tell her how I couldn’t wear it since it made a crackling sound. She puts the hearing aid into a device that would allow her to hear for herself. Within seconds of turning it on, she grimaces. “This sounds awful! No wonder you couldn’t use it! It sounds like the speaker is broken.” She went on to explain this piece of the hearing aid would cost roughly $300 to fix. It was just as I feared.
New hearing aids came into the conversation, and the pricing of the hearing aids were enough to make one feel light headed, and I was really grateful for the insurance helping out in the costs. One brand and type was suggested to be a good fit for me, but she follows with, “We need to see where you’re at with what type of hearing loss you have to make sure it’s good for you.”
The testing room was all too familiar to me. There was a big soundproof “closet” with a lone chair facing away from the window. I went through the tests of responding to sounds and doing word recognition just by sound. The latter test was what blew me away. Each ear was tested, and I had gotten 52% words correct from hearing with my left ear. The right was worse- 20%! The funny thing was, my audiologist then tested me with listening to the words with both ears together, and, much to her surprise, I ended up scoring 80%! It was evident that I needed hearing aids in both ears. They work well together, despite the right being worse in dB (decibel) levels (It is what measures the amount of hearing loss in each ear).
It was not long before we discussed how I would be able to get new hearing aids, and we came up with a plan that worked for me. At that, I signed some papers and made a new appointment to get fitted with new hearing aids. I would only have to wait a week!
I am excited and nervous. New hearing aids, like getting new glasses, would take some adjustment, but I know having both ears with hearing support, I would be able to catch more of what is happening around me.
Which that means…. More music!