Random Thoughts

What did you say?

... one may need to adjust to hearing again

by Eleanor Jenkins

What did you say?
Personally, I have been wearing a hearing aid, now two, since I was about 45 years old. I will always be grateful to the audiologist who introduced me to hearing sounds again. He suggested I do it gradually and I did. I have never regretted his sage advice. I am always concerned when I hear of others who have spent several thousands of dollars on their precious new hearing devices and they tell me that they keep them at home in the bureau drawer. Perhaps they didnít have the same counsel that I was fortunate enough to have.

Think about it. You havenít been understanding your grandchildren for a while. They talk too softly. Your family seems to be mumbling. There is something wrong with the volume control on the TV and people donít seem to be talking into the mouthpiece when you have conversations with them on the phone.

When you go to meetings everyone seems to be mumbling. Yes the volumes havenít really changed, but you are having some hearing loss. You have gone to the doctor, he does some testing and says a hearing aid will help. Think about now, you get fitted and you are anxious to hear again, have you ever been in a movie theater when you felt like you wanted to get out of there because the volume was too loud.
That will happen to you with a hearing aid if you try to hear everything at once. Remember it has been a gradual process that the volume has been going down. Let it come up gradually too.

The first week with your hearing aid should be very special. Put it on when you are alone in a room in your home. Donít turn on the radio or TV and donít talk to anyone -- just be alone with the natural sounds that happen in an empty room. Walk across the floor, hear the boards creak. Read a book; listen to the crinkle of the paper as you turn the pages. Sounds that were familiar to you before will gradually be identified. I know I still go crazy in my own kitchen when the water starts to boil. I look around to see what is about to explode.

After a few days of being alone with your newly heard sounds, have a conversation with your husband or wife. About the beginning of the second week you can try watching TV. Gradually increase the volume to where you are comfortable with it. Keep it in your pocket when you go to your meetings. By the end of the third week, you may want to go to a restaurant to see how much you can hear with the outside noises. They will probably annoy you, but with the newer digital hearing aids they do tend to help you cope with extraneous sounds so that conversation can be heard.
There is help out there for you if you need it. Your audiologist can help you find it.

Welcome to the world of sound.

Author's note: I would add a reference for the ďlate deafened communityĒ -- it is called ďA GUIDE FOR PEOPLE WHO BECOME DEAF OR SEVERELY HARD OF HEARINGĒ by Karen Rockow, PhD.

It was developed under a contract from the Massachusetts Commission for the Deaf and Hard of Hearing.

I can only add, I wish this book had been available 30 years ago when I was first diagnosed as hearing impaired.

The woman who made me aware of this book is a local Pennsylvanian active in local and national associations for the hearing impaired.

And you in Melrose have it right in your own back yard.

Dr. Rockow's book is available at the Wakefield Public Library, or from the Melrose Public Library via the NOBLE network.

August 3, 2007

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