"Each friend represents a world in us, a world possibly not born until they arrive." Anaïs Nin

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Thursday, February 20, 2014

I Never Leave Home Without My Hearing Aids

My hearing aids. I actually have a love/hate relationship with them for several reasons.

1. They make my ears sore and itchy no matter how clean they are. They are uncomfortable and annoying to wear. However that may be, they do help with ambient sounds and give me audio clues in many environments, but they aren't perfect.

2. Though they make things louder, they aren't necessarily clearer. I often have to have Fabulous Husband or my friends "help me hear". If someone is talking to me and I don't see them, I'm not aware. If I'm not aware, they may think I'm ignoring them and being rude. Though I lack many social skills, I certainly don't want to appear lacking more than I am.

It's difficult to explain when someone says, "We have headsets and loops that can help". Actually, no, they don't. They aren't loud enough, or clear enough. I have trouble distinguishing what I am hearing. I often find myself asking people around me, "What's that sound?" then try to describe what it is. Because hearing aids don't sound "natural" to me, that's sometimes difficult to do.This is why I have to see your face when you are speaking to me, or why I need captions at events and presentations. Though often I'm told I'm good at lipreading, that isn't always true. There are some people that are unreadable to me. Often, when I meet people, it takes me awhile to get familiar with their "speech patterns" to read them. Reading lips and body language is quite difficult. Try watching tv with the sound off for a couple of hours and you'll understand why after a day of lipreading, I spend the following day "sleeping it off". For a couple of decades now, I've been describing living with hearing loss is like playing Wheel of Fortune every day, all day long. Instead of guessing letters, I'm guessing at words that fit the content of the conversation.

I have to plan my appointments, lunch dates, etc. accordingly and make sure that I don't wear myself out too much in personal social interaction.This is why I've quit teaching Sign Language at the school. While I felt saddened to have had to do that, I am so glad I did. I like a slow, quiet, less-stress lifestyle. Add the fact that I just turned 55 years old this week, I think it's time I learned these things about myself and adjust my life accordingly. It feels really good now that I have.

3. During my last stint at college, I kept getting ill and I lost quite a bit of hearing. I was getting recurring ear infections and couldn't figure out why. My doctor finally figured it out. "How long are you wearing your hearing aids each day". He suggested I try not wearing them more than 5 or 6 hours a day. Guess what... No more ear infections! However, that put a crunch on attending classes and working a 9-5 job.

Apparently the apparatus that can help me hear was also the one causing me to lose my hearing when I wore them too long day after day, regardless how well I kept them clean. I don't wear my hearing aids when I'm at home unless I'm having an in depth conversation with Fabulous Husband.

About a year and a half ago, I tried to get new hearing aids through Pennsylvania Office of Vocational Rehabilitation. The first question they asked my audiologist who was calling on my behalf was, "How old is she?" Then, "Does she work?" Then, "When was the last time she worked?"

They said, "No."

It doesn't matter that I volunteered my time all these years, or that I'm a mom with a child and I need to hear when I go to his appointments and functions for school, etc. No. It only matters to them that I work a regular 9-5 job or be attending school to be eligible for hearing aids. I worry about the day these old hearing aids stop working... most people who see them tell me they belong in a museum.

I don't want to have to take a loan out for THOUSANDS of dollars for the kind of technology that will actually help me, only to have them last a few years and then break down.

4. The pressure around my ears when I wear both the hearing aids and glasses hurt after
a while and I can't wait to get home and take everything off and be comfortable. I don't know how people can wear both hearing aids and glasses everyday, all day long. Sometimes the sides of my head hurt so much, I can't lay comfortably on my side to sleep. The first thing I do when I come home is take my "eyes" and "ears" off my face and head and breathe a big sigh of relief.

Those are just a few reasons why I don't like my hearing aids, but...  I never leave home without them.


  1. I don't know what state you live in, but in most states there are services for the deaf which may be able to assist you with HAs. In Mass it is the Commission for the Deaf and Hard of Hearing.

    However, Vocational Rehabilitation is not just a deep pocket for every person who is disabled and needs assistance. They are in business to help people become employed. That's the law, not a whim. If you want to go back to work part-time that would probably work as well.

    Like you, I have problems with my hearing aids causing infections. I juggle times when I need to wear them with times I can avoid them. You may have an allergy to plastic (as I do) and perhaps silicon ear molds would be better for you.

    I do not know if ACA will fully fund hearing aids. I happen to have insurance that covers $2k in hearing aid expenses every 3 years. It is not enough to cover the full cost, but it gets me close.

    Sounds as if this is a good time for you to start saving up for new HAs and to explore options such as a commission for the deaf who might be able to kick in a little. Possibly service clubs can help. I donated my old hearing aids through my audiologist and he sends them to be refurbished and then a service club fits people with them.

  2. Thank you for stopping by, Cosmic Twig!

    Currently I live in Pennsylvania.

    My earlier hearing aids were given to me by Oregon Vocational Rehabilitation to attend school. However, that was when I got recurring ear infections and could no longer attend school.

    I have contacted PA VR, and I am not eligible, it is the same as what they told my audiologist. I do not meet the requirements. I am not going to put my family at financial risk of taking out a loan of 5,000 PER hearing aid and then in several years have them obsolete and have to do it again. That simply isn't practical to me.

    I have been on the waiting list with Susquehanna Service dogs for 3 years.

    There are no refurbished hearing aid programs currently in PA. The pair of hearing aids I wear today were were donated by the Lions Club to me when I was still a resident in Oregon. :-) The Lions Club here in PA never responded to my emails. I tried contacting them a few times over the years.

    Thank you for these suggestions, Cosmic Twig! They may help someone else out there find the help and resource they need.

    Peace to you!

  3. It was good to hear that you will not go any where with out your hearing aids. Most of the people having a common tendency like whenever they go for outing or to some special parties they will not use their hearing aids due to shame. But it was a foolish thinking and people will think shame if you don't wear that because in order to follow that people you need to hear what they are saying and if you don't wear that people will start making fun of those people. It was a good message by you. Keep up the effort.

    1. Thank you, Sasha, for sharing this valid point, and for your kind encouragement.