How Hearing Aids Got Me Back on My Bike

It took Robert Seidler a few years – almost 40 – to reach out for hearing help. Here’s his story.

 

By Robert Seidler

 

I am a filmmaker living in Sopchoppy, Florida.

I’m also an avid bicyclist, who has long enjoyed the special Zen-like environment of riding through nature. Whether discussing film projects with clients or talking about life’s important issues with my friends and family, I’ve always preferred to hold conversations while biking.

However, I lost much of my hearing in a freak accident that occurred during filming of a documentary, perforating both my eardrums. As my hearing ability continued to decline with age, I found myself no longer able to enjoy the special environment created by riding through Florida’s scenic backroads. I couldn’t hold conversations while biking anymore because of the wind and other environmental noise – and even chatting face-to-face became a challenge as I struggled to understand what was being said. Not surprisingly, I became increasingly depressed and withdrawn.

I can honestly say the loss of this creative outlet was as profound a loss to me as a death.

My depression inevitably affected my family and friends. They were sympathetic to my grief, but also frustrated that I wouldn’t seek treatment for my hearing loss. So, when an opportunity arose — Signia’s It’s Your Choice video series recruitment campaign — I decided to stop feeling sorry for myself and take a chance on applying to participate. The purpose of the series was to encourage people just like me to confront their hearing loss by getting a hearing evaluation and hearing aids, thus allowing us to regain all the sounds of life we’d been missing out on. To my surprise and delight, I was selected as one of the three applicants to be featured in the series.

First, I met with a hearing care professional close to my home in Sopchoppy (All Clear Hearing in Panama City Beach). The hearing care professional, Tammara, diagnosed me as having a binaural, symmetrical high-frequency hearing loss that was affecting my ability to comprehend speech, especially in noise. She fitted me with my first-ever pair of hearing aids, and I heard the difference immediately.

Excited to test out my new hearing aids, I immediately went out on a bike ride and discovered I could hold conversations with ease again despite the wind and other noises. The last time I heard as well as I did that day, I was in my 20s — and I’m 65 now. It was much more than a big deal. I can only describe the difference as pretty magical.

So, if you’re putting off getting hearing help – what are you waiting for? I encourage anyone reading this to contact a hearing care professional and find out what hearing aids can do for you.

About Gael Hannan

Gael Hannan is a sought-after speaker for her humorous and insightful performances about hearing loss. Unheard Voices and EarRage! are ground-breaking solo shows that illuminate the profound impact of hearing loss on a person’s life and relationships, and which Gael has presented to appreciative audiences around Canada, the United States and New Zealand. A DVD/video version of Unheard Voices is now available. She has received awards for her work, including the Consumer Advocacy Award from the Canadian Association of Speech Language Pathologists and Audiologists. Gael lives with her husband and son in Toronto.

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