Tuesday, June 21, 2011

I CAN CLEARLY HEAR


Most people as they grow older do have a reduced hearing ability just as your eyesight fades as one ages. It is just one of the facts of life one has to deal with. In my case, I started off with a hearing loss at a young age after a bout of German Measles as I was told. I lost 90% of my hearing in one ear but the other ear was not affected. Over the years I was able to hide that fact I suppose by always attending school class and insisting I be placed in the front rows in classes claiming I wanted to be able to pay attention better. Most teachers bought it and I was able to keep my little secret a secret for many years. Even my wife in our courting years did not even realize it. I became quite adept at offsetting my hearing problem by manipulation and deceit.

I was always keenly interested in the military as a career when I graduated from school based on my military family heritage. Part of the family was Navy and the other part was Army. I compromised by joining the Air Force. Figured I wouldn't offend any of the family in that respect. So off the flight school I went after graduation. This was the first shocker in my life when I didn't pass the physical. Seems I was in the group where part of the physical was a detailed comprehensive hearing test. Passed all the other test with flying colors but flunked the hearing one because of the one ear with a severe loss..

The dreams of flying went down the tubes and the dejection was very difficult to take. Then is when I realized I was actually deaf in one ear. This was a total destruction of my carefully laid out plans in my career life. I had no clue what I was going to do now. I didn't have a back up plan so I had to come up with something for a new career direction.

After wandering around in meaningless jobs for a year or two, I was led by a strong urging from I did not know by who ( God) at the time to stop at a retailing store that had a job fair. Well it wasn't a strong urging; it was more like my car was guided into that parking lot and I was ushered into the interview. I presented my diplomas, resume, and credentials to a recruiter who was the regional vice president of personnel for this large retail chain. Although my background and experience was mostly technical, I was hired on the spot for their management training program. I stayed with this company and progressed up the ladder quickly till I took a self financed retirement and started my own racing venture financed by this company's excellent stock option plan.

At the time, little did I know being around cars with loud exhaust would play a pivotal part is effecting my other ear. I had noticed at the time that a famous Indy car driver had been wearing hearing aids due to deafness (I thought he had a similar problem growing up) but I didn't think it would bother me as I was so good at off setting not being able to hear in one ear. Well over the years I do think now that may have been the catalyst to experience hearing loss in the other ear too. Ear plugs weren't invented yet for racing. However after a near fatal 185MPH crash in the third year of racing, I decided it was time to hang up the helmet and racing venture. It was by the grace of God that I was spared any critical injuries or death.

Over the last 23 years that I know of, God has come into my life many times but at first, I didn't listen or comprehend His guidance. It wasn't until the last few years that I opened my heart to God did I fully understand He was the one guiding me for His purpose. Looking back in my life, He was always there waiting for me to accept Him and His grace unconditionally.

So slowly the loss of hearing began to creep into the good ear unnoticed by me but others did see the change. I prayed to God for a healing miracle but none came. I prayed again over the last two years but the damage was done. I prayed again but this time all I got was "go to Cincinnati Eye Institute, see James". Now that didn't make sense to me but I followed the voice. They do have a section of their practice for hearing loss and yes there is a James that is the head of the practice.

I went to see this James and got the preliminary test which he suggested I see an ear specialist to confirm that a hearing aid would help the hearing I lost. It seemed to be in the mid ranges where the speech frequencies are mostly located. That made sense as that was where I usually boosted the output on my stereo system equalizer. I wasn't too hot on the idea of a hearing aid based in hearing of other's experiences over the years but I went along with his suggestions, got the results, and was led back to him for a fitting. Still quite sceptical of the miracles of the new age hearing aids claims, I went along just to see if there was any improvements over the last 20 years.

Yes there was quite a difference as I learned with the demonstration that James performed. First I was hooked up to a behind the ear hearing aid which was connected through a computer program where he ran a screen that showed the frequencies in Hertz measurements (16 to be exact) and super imposed my test results in the frequencies where the loss was evident. From that screen, He boosted the mid range frequencies up in the hearing aid to be flat over all frequencies equally and at a proper level. Then we tested for a hearing volume level that I felt comfortable with. A little more tweaking of the hearing aid from the Computer and it opened up a new experience in sound. I did not realize what sounds I was missing before. James printed out a few instructional sheets for me to read and the sound from the printer startled me. The next biggie was the phone use to check for squeals when one puts their ear to the phone head set. Amazingly there was none at all.

Another test was the voice recognition with background noise. Amazingly, I was able to discern all the spoken words even in a noisy environment as the hearing aid digitally focused on the spoken words and reduced the background noise. James even went on to discuss the learning curve I would experience as I began to learn how to hear all over again. He went into the problems I would experience as my brain became adjusted to the new ranges of hearing. All this time I thought I heard with my ears. It is your brain that hears the sounds and adjust for what you are hearing ( deciphering the sounds). If you can't understand the sound, your brain will more than likely ignore it as indistinguishable.

In our conversation before inserting the hearing aid, James seemed to have a deep bass voice. With the hearing aid on, his voice was not as deep a bass voice as I thought. He actually had a good bit of higher mid range nuances in his voice that made his speech easier to understand. I had been missing a lot of sound and didn't even know it. After about an hour of discussions and instructions along with several self help pamphlets and instructions he asked the question to close the sale ( been there done that many times my self in sales). " When do you think you might want to get a hearing aid?" was his question. My answer was " right after you put it in my ear James. It is a perfect fit sound wise".We settled on price, got all the instructions about care of the hearing aid, packets, case, warranties, free batteries, and the receipt. Walked out of the office hearing things I had been missing for the last couple years. I thanked God for leading me to this man and the Cincinnati Eye Institute. In a way, God did heal me of my hearing problem. I am grateful for what he did by leading me there.

I go back in 4 weeks for another fine tune but right now it seems perfect. However, there is a down side. I hear things I never heard before. Some sounds startled me until I became accustomed to what the sounds were. Here again is where your brain has to get accustomed to what it is hearing. Another problem you will note is people seem to be talking louder that they were before. That is great, you are hearing better and understanding what they are saying. The hearing aid is doing what it is supposed to do. Live with it and enjoy it.

If you think or others tell you that you have a hearing loss, believe it and get you hearing checked. Don't wait for a few years like I did and think you don't need one. If you are constantly asking for others to repeat their selves or you say huh, please, or I didn't understand what you said, you need to get your ears checked. If you answer a question with a yes or no and didn't understand what one said to you, get your hearing checked. There is no need to let your hearing loss rule your life or keep you from enjoying what God put in front of you.

The technology of today for hearing loss is much more advanced than even what it was only 5 years ago. You don't have to suffer in silence. If the hearing loss cannot be cured by surgery as in my case, the hearing aid is a viable alternative for a more enjoyable life. And no you do not need a large bubble sticking out of you ears or a mega phone. Most today are completely not visible to the average person. If you have hang ups about wearing one that is visible, there is a large selection of aids that are hidden either behind the ear or inside the ear. It is your choice. Do you want to fake it or hear clearly? I can clearly hear now.

2 comments:

ATHENS said...

Thomas keeps telling me to stop mumbling! Subconsciously, I called him Rusty twice after Rusty's death Friday. He didn't hear me!

photogr said...

Good to hear from you Bev. It is always good to have your ears checked especially when things don't seem right or you have more difficuty understanding what others are saying. I let mine go for a few years refusing to admit I might have some loss in my good ear.

Many hearing problems can be corrected if people would face up to their loss and get over the stigma of having to use a hearing aid.

In my case, surgery was out of the equation but many can be helped with surgery.

Both options are readily available and the technology today is far advanced over just 5 years ago in comparison.

I am glad I bit the bullet and got one. It is a learning curve in using hearing aids but well worth the time and investment.