Currently viewing Vol. 1 • Issue 6 • 2014

Diary of a Mad Hearing Aid User

The Way I Hear It

Gael Hannan (The Way I Hear It) is a hard of hearing advocate that understands both sides of the fence between the consumer and the hearing health care professional. Gael’s columns are humorous, sometimes cutting, but always constructive and to the point.

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

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.

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-dingy 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 away, 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 4

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 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 speech reader?
  • 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?

Reprinted with kind permission from HearingHealthMatters.org.

About the author

Gael Hannan

Gael Hannan is a hearing health advocate, writer and public speaker who lives with severe hearing loss.