Diary of a Mad Hearing Aid User

Recently, my HearingHealthMatters colleague Dr. Bob Martin wrote a post with a suggestion for his fellow hearing care practitioners: have clients write down notes on their hearing aid experiences, so that questions and concerns can be addressed in the next clinical appointment. This great idea got me thinking about what someone bringing home their first pair of in-the-ear (ITE) hearing aids might write….

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Today was D-Day, or maybe I should say it was HA-Day, the day I got my first Hearing Aids.

Or maybe even HA-HA-Day, because I have one for each ear — and because it still feels like a big joke, me wearing hearing aids at 53 years old. Yeah, very funny. Who knew I was missing so much? My husband says he knew.

OK, Doc, I’m doing what you suggested.  (I know you’re not a doctor, but it’s easier to say “Doc” than “Aud”.)  I’m writing down notes and questions for our next visit.  I kept a diary all through my teens, so you might get more than you expected.

 

Day 1

11 am:   Just got home. Don’t know if I should admit this, but after leaving your office and driving 2 miles, I pulled over.  It was all too much – these ear intruders, the cost, the noise.  I didn’t want to drive while I was sobbing, so I took the hearing aids out, to start again when I got home.

1 pm:   Still haven’t put them in. Sitting at my kitchen table, staring at them. With a magnifying glass. Sheesh, they’re small. How could something so small cost so much?

2 pm:   OK, I put them in again.  Actually, I put the left one in twice, because it dropped out the first time. I was nervous or I put it in wrong.  But now I’m committed to wearing these babies until I go to bed!!

7 pm:    Bedtime. It’s been quite the day and these last five hours have been loud. LOUD!  Have to clean them now, like I’m supposed to.  First I had to decide where to keep the cleaning kit, a place where I’m sure to see it every night. Decided on the wine rack.

7:20 pm:   Boy, am I tired, but this cleaning procedure took some  time. Couldn’t figure out all the teensy black instruments. I mean, why a little brush? It’s not like the hearing aid has fur. And the long thing, the eeny-weeny riding whip? Do I stick it inside the hearing aid?! Hang on, I’ll check the instruction book.

7:30 pm:  Finally done, although they weren’t too dirty, it’s only been a day. I am so totally exhausted.

 

Day 2

9 am:   I slept in. To be honest, I just didn’t want to get up and put those things back in.  I don’t want to be hard of hearing, period.

10 am:   They’re in, finally. I had my coffee and then a shower and then waited a half hour for my ear canals to dry…I’m sure I read somewhere you’re supposed to do that.

Noon:   I don’t think I can handle all this noise. At lunch with my husband, the knives and forks sounded like a sword fight. And there’s just too much information! His nose whistles. I can hear myself chewing and swallowing. I think I’d rather be deaf.

2 pm:   Have serious concerns about how these look. The pulley things stick out at  right angles from my head. I cannot go out in public looking like a Martian. I need to take them out and lie down and think about this.

3 pm:   Whoa, that ding-dongy Hello, hearing aid user! chime thing is getting on my nerves. Is it supposed to remind me that I’m putting hearing aids in my ears? Seriously, what else would it be?

11 pm:   Made it to my normal bedtime. Put the wine way, cleaned my hearing aids, and put them in the dry aid. Feeling better about all this.

Midnight:   Husband woke me up. He heard a sound coming from the dry aid. Shit! I forgot to open the battery cage and one of them was making feedback noise. I hope nothing was damaged. Or maybe I do.

 

Day 3

7 am:   Dropped one again. The cat and I both pounced for it, but I won. Wasn’t worried about the hearing aid, but the cat might choke.

6 pm:   I wore them all day. All painful day. My ears hurt—not sure if it’s from the noise or from these foreign bodies in my ears.

11 pm:   Watched TV tonight with husband who said how nice it was not to have the volume so loud. I think he meant to be encouraging, but I started to cry.  So did he.

 

Day 6

Day 4 was OK, except for having to ask everyone to lower their voices. My friend said she was already whispering and couldn’t go any lower. I said thank you for the support, that wasn’t funny. She said, yes it was and to lighten up. I said wait till you lose your hearing, you insensitive cow. Then we both started to laugh, which sounded good.

Yesterday was a better day. My husband enjoys telling me what sounds I’m hearing. Seriously, I didn’t know our mattress creaks so loudly. Husband said it wasn’t that bad when the kids still lived at home. Not sure if I believe him; I’ll have to figure out how to ask my son about this when he comes to visit.

Here’s are other questions for tomorrow’s appointment:

 

  • How long do hearing aid batteries last?
  • I’m worried that the hearing aid is loud enough to cause more hearing loss.
  • Tell me more about the telecoil in my hearing aids.
  • Am I a good speechreader?
  • How do I tell people about my hearing loss?
  • Fix the Martian thing.

 

Not bad for the first week of the rest of my life with hearing aids, hey Doc?

 

About Gael Hannan

Gael Hannan is a writer, speaker and advocate on hearing loss issues. In addition to her weekly blog for HearingHealthMatters.org, which has an international following, Gael wrote the acclaimed book "The Way I Hear It: A Life with Hearing Loss". She is regularly invited to present her uniquely humorous and insightful work to appreciative audiences around the world. Gael has received many awards for her work, which includes advocacy for a more inclusive society for people with hearing loss. She lives with her husband on Vancouver Island, British Columbia, Canada.

8 Comments

  1. This was really one of your better blogs Gael; I found it really funny and thanks for the chuckles.

    I’ve worn those damn HAs for 30 years now and, during that time, I’ve become the proud owner (sarcasm intended) of six or seven ‘new and improved sets of HAs’ and I have to say I go through some of the same things you’ve described in your blog.

    However, since I always try to be the optimist, I try to look at the positive things about the HAs and I truly do appreciate the ever expanding repetoire of what these amazing devices can do (no sarcasm intended). They are my amazing technological link to the world of sound and I really do appreciate them even if I do hate having to use them.

    Now, I wouldn’t mind so much if I could only get rid of those damn hearing moulds! LOL!

    Bye for now Gael and thanks again for the chuckles!

  2. Most people don’t loose their hearing in one day there for they can not get it back in one day. I usually take 3 to 4 weeks to get their full prescription in their hearing aids. Thats one thing that sets me apart from others in the hearing aid business.

  3. Even though I have worn HAs my entire life, I STILL go through a degree of this each time I get a new pair with new technology. While frustrating, it reminds me that we continue to make great strides!

  4. Too funny and too true! I remember the loudness of paper crackling from a printer, and noise from a pop can opening. Luckily my Aud suggested I wait in the office for a half hour to get used to the new sounds. Worked well till I went outside on that very windy day. Great column, Gael!

  5. That Martian thingy will probably fall off eventually, so no worries there! Funny column, took me back 17 years to my first completely-in-the-canal HA which kept falling out when I chewed (didn’t want to mistake it for a crouton, my Aud pointed out!) and needed several re-fits.

  6. Very cute. An excellent idea about leaving the instruments on the wine rack.
    It really is ALL TOO MUCH still ! Low tones are hard to correct and I’m not sure I will ever adjust to them. 5 years now and I still feel like it’s the first time. Thanks for the giggles:)

  7. THIS WAS EXCELLENT GAEL !! Although it was long ago when I got my first aids I remember some of the same things!! And I hear these sentiments from others all the time.
    Good job at capturing the essence of this unique experience!

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