While talking with my audiologist, I learned new hearing aids have levels on them up to four. I’m not clear on what these levels are, just that they are there. And the hearing aid industry pushes for level four. My audiologist—and I love her so—doesn’t believe in the four and set mine at level two.
Level two is loud. As in I turned down my car radio to the point where my son had to tell me to turn it up. I don’t even want to consider what level four would be! For some reason everyone thinks we need it to be loud, loud, loud!
No, no, no! When I put in a hearing aid my aid decides what I hear. Not me. It will pick up something dropping to the ground over the person I’m talking to. It will pick up the music in the background more than what I’m trying to focus on. It will pick up person B when I’m listening to person A. I’m using hearing aids to function. Yes, I love music. But I’ll listen to music with my hearing aids off. When I have my aids on I want to understand my son, listen to the television, and be alerted to important environmental sounds. I don’t need to hear a mechanical clanking from my keyboard.
And yes, I’m hearing my keyboard. And as a writer, I type a lot. I’m used to typing being this quiet thing. But now all I hear is “click, click, clack” in a high pitch. It was cool for the first ten minutes, now it’s annoying and I’ve removed my hearing aids specifically for quiet writing time.
There’s another point: people with hearing loss know quiet. We enjoy quiet. It’s nice and cozy to us. I have never been hearing. I don’t know what sounds are truly like. All I know is the mechanical sounds filtered through my hearing aids. Make no mistake: hearing aids don’t correct hearing. They amplify with mechanical sounds. I don’t hear what you do. I will never hear what you do. And frankly, I’m okay with that.
So the thought that the hearing aid industry is pushing loudness makes me shudder. So many people who are needing hearing aids the first time struggle. Making the sound uncomfortable will just make it worse. No one wants to spend thousands of dollars on a device(s) they don’t use. But it happens all the time.
Back to me, Ms. Experienced getting her latest aids. From the time I sat in the audiologist’s office, I knew my left ear felt blocked. We tweaked a few levels but at this point I knew it might be me adjust to the hearing aid. The tinny sound remained. These are not things I fixed while with my audiologist.
Adjusting to hearing aids take time. I always tell people to give it two weeks. Wear the hearing aids. Study the sounds. Figure out what works and what doesn’t. With my previous set of aids I had trouble listening to Bon Jovi, my favorite band. When his voice got high and shrill, I closed my eyes from pain. But John doesn’t have a high voice, so I had to continue listening to make sure I knew what wasn’t working.
Therefore I left my audiologist with plans to call her once I figured out what needed tweaking. I got to work and discovered that my left hearing aid was reacting to one of the phones. This phone is portable with a flat surface, so the flat surface is pressed up against my ear. This phone is also quiet for me, so I have to hold it close. Only holding it close had my hearing aid whistling. I have to hold the phone away from my ear.
Mental note: I need that fixed.
When I went to take off my hearing aids that night I had to adjust my routine. My old right hearing aid had the ability to turn the hearing aid off before removing it from the ear, thus saving me the whistling the process demands. My new ones don’t. I tried popping the battery door open, but the position is different and is not easily accessible.
My left hearing aid, I discovered, is smaller than my old ones. I have young hands, no arthritis. I almost dropped it. Hearing aids are wet and messy and coated with wax when they are removed. My tiny little aid slipped in my hands as I tried to clean it off before setting it in a dehumidifying container for the night.
I’m getting used to the slippery hearing aid. But the blocked sensation in my left ear lingers. And some sounds are not right, but I’m not sure exactly what, beyond “tinny.” I know things that crinkle, like paper or foil, are not comfortable to listen to.
On the plus, I’m having a much easier transition than some of my friends. And I think the level two has a lot to do with that. I can’t imagine a higher level. I’m understanding my young son better. And as far as I’m concerned, that’s what I need out of a hearing aid.