A few years ago, one of my colleagues at HearingHealthMatters.org wrote a column encouraging new hearing aid clients to make notes on their experiences. I wrote a semi-fictional article and this is an updated version.
Hearing aids improve all the time, but the breaking-in experience doesn’t. However, the day does come when you realize you can’t even feel the devices in the ear. And they sound, well, normal. Then, it’s all worth it.
11 am: Just got home from the hearing clinic. Don’t know if I should admit this, but two miles from the clinic, I pulled over. It was all too much – these little intruders in my ears, the cost, the noise. I didn’t want to drive while I was sobbing, so I took the hearing aids out. Just until I got home.
1 pm: Well, still haven’t put them back in. Sitting at my kitchen table, staring at them. With a magnifying glass. Sheesh, why does 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. A little earlier than usual, by about four hours—but it’s been a long and loud day. Did I mention LOUD! Oh darn, I’m supposed to clean them at night. First I have to decide where to keep the cleaning kit; it’s supposed to be a place where I’m sure to see it every night. The wine cupboard—perfect!
7:20 pm: Boy, this cleaning procedure took a while. Couldn’t figure out all the bits. I mean, why a little brush? The hearing aid doesn’t have fur. And the teeny-weeny riding whip? Do I stick it inside the hearing aid?! Hang on, I’ll check the instruction book. Ah, to clean the air vent. They have air vents?
7:30 pm: Finally done, although they weren’t too dirty…I only wore them for an hour or so. I am exhausted.
9 am: I slept in. To be honest, I just didn’t want to get up and put those things back in. I also don’t want to have hearing loss.
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 they look. 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 when I first put them in is getting on my nerves. Is it supposed to remind me that I’m putting hearing aids in my ears? 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 drying 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. On the other hand, maybe I do.
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.
It’s going 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.
It’s going much better! Life doesn’t sound so loud and I love all the new sounds that I’d forgotten or never heard. 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.
Final Note to Audiologist: I know it took you a long time to talk me into these hearing aids, but don’t even think of taking more than 10 minutes to clean them. I need them in my ears where they belong.