About ten years ago (I’m 57) I noticed I was starting to have trouble understanding people in places where there was a lot of background noise — pubs, coffeehouses, parties, etc. I noticed that it helped to watch their lips when they were speaking.
Each time I went in for a hearing check, I was told my that my hearing in the high-frequency range was diminishing, making it increasingly difficult to hear the consonants in people’s speech, important for understanding many words. Background noise, of course, makes it even more difficult. But I wasn’t at the point where hearing aids would help.
I finally reached the point a year ago when I knew I was ready. A trip to the UK did it, as the English accent and noisy train stations put me over the edge.
So I made an appointment with Dr. Samira Anderson at Northfield’s Allina Medical Clinic and she confirmed that I was indeed ready. I tried a relatively inexpensive pair (less than $1,000) for a week or two; then another pair in the $2,500 range for a couple of weeks. Better but not great. And then she told that a new model was just released ($5,500) and suggested I try them. Voila!
The photo (click to enlarge) shows my Phonak Savia hearing aids, with a remote control device on the left that I keep in my pocket and the accompanying watch that has the same remote controls on it. The hearing aids are fully programmable and the remote devices allow me to further control them for different situations. In addition to the default setting, my remotes have a special setting for phone use (so that pressing a phone receiver against my ear doesn’t trigger the high-pitched shriek); another setting for noisy backgrounds; a third for outdoor wind; and a volume control.
Why am I blogging this here?
When I finally got over my ego problems at having hearing aids (geezer!) and began showing them to people, I was amazed at how many people (baby boomer guys, primarily) admitted to having the same hearing difficulty and had no idea that this technology existed. I now think of them no differently than my reading glasses. And if a battery runs out in the middle of a meeting, I swap it right in front of everyone, just like pulling out a kleenex and wiping smudges off my glasses. No big deal.
So this blog post is a public service announcement.
One more thing: Be careful of loud music. And always wear earplugs when riding a motorcycle.