We recently spoke with Jacksonville Speech & Hearing Center patient Amy R. and asked her to share her experience with hearing loss diagnosis and with wearing hearing aids. Amy offers some helpful suggestions and insight.
How do I adjust to hearing aids?
A lot of people worry that when they get hearing aids they’re going to have problems adjusting. While I didn’t have a lot of issues, I know some people do. What I would say to them is go to Jacksonville Speech & Hearing Center to have them identify what’s going on. Since hearing aids are now digital, when you go through the hearing test, they simply plug your hearing aid into the computer. This way they can determine where you lack the ability to hear. For me, high-pitched sounds are increased as opposed to the low pitch. There is no reason you have to suffer if you feel like you can’t adjust. I know the people at Jacksonville Speech & Hearing Center can help you.
What are the benefits of hearing aids?
I know what it is like to struggle with hearing loss. Even with hearing aids my hearing isn’t perfect. I would encourage people to seek answers because there are so many wonderful things in life to hear like children or grandchildren, music, or maybe your work. When I put my hearing aids in in the morning and I hear my cat snore and I hear the birds tweet outside, then I know this is something I would miss out on if I didn’t have the tools to hear.
My hearing aids were so helpful to me that I convinced my husband to go have his hearing tested. Initially I thought he was just ignoring me as some husbands will playfully. I did think part of that was because he couldn’t hear me. Sure enough, he went and got tested, and he needed hearing aids as well. Now when he doesn’t hear me, I know it’s not about the hearing, it is about the topic! His hearing loss is different than mine, so having that special test with an audiologist who has decades of experience helped define what kind of hearing aid he needed to wear as opposed to what kind of hearing aid I wear.
Does family history play a role in needing hearing aids?
I come from a family that has a lot of hearing problems, but I still thought it would never happen to me. Then one day I found myself in the ear nose and throat doctor’s office and they told me I probably needed to get hearing aids. It was a very scary experience. My doctor recommended I go to the Jacksonville Speech & Hearing Center. Even though I had lived in Jacksonville a long time, I didn’t really know them. I was thrilled when I got there to meet Dr. Mattson. Dr. Mattson is a young woman who grew up wearing hearing aids so she knew exactly what to tell me about the process. I didn’t want to appear like an old lady. I didn’t want to have all the feedback my grandmother had with her hearing aids, but most of all I wanted to be able to do my job. As a public relations professional, if you can’t communicate, which includes listening to clients, listening to media, and listening to coworkers, you cannot be a good public relations professional. Dr. Mattson walked me through the process, got me fitted with my first pair of hearing aids. When I totally freaked out when I was hearing all the sounds I hadn’t heard in a long time, she helped me with that too. It was great to have someone who understood what I was going through and could react to that. That was seven or eight years ago. I’m on my second pair of hearing aids now, and frankly, I could not have a conversation without me having hearing aids since I have lost all the higher registers. I can’t hear certain voices, especially female voices since they tend to be higher registers. It has changed my life. I am so grateful to Jacksonville Speech & Hearing Center. As a nonprofit, I know they think about me the patient, and that they are going to recommend something that works especially for me as opposed to something that may be “on special” at another company. Nice people, convenient location, people who know what I am going through, it’s a win-win.
When I started to lose my hearing, I didn’t want to face reality. My children said to me “Mom, you’re not hearing.” and I would say “No, no, no.” In the office when I was meeting with clients, it was like all of the sudden I lost the ability to understand what I was doing there because I could not hear. When you can’t hear, your cognition and your understanding of your environment just goes down the tubes. So I finally got up the nerve to go to the ear nose and throat doctor who said I had to go to Jacksonville Speech & Hearing Center. Don’t go to a place that only sells one type of hearing aid because you only get what they have, not necessarily what you need.
What tools are there for living with hearing aids?
If you are suffering from hearing loss and you are thinking about getting hearing aids, there are a number of tools that work with hearing aids that could make your life even easier. There is a streamer which is a Bluetooth enabled piece of equipment. It enables you to pair your Bluetooth smart phone with your hearing aid. For example, if you’re driving in your car and you get a call, it will ring through your hearing aids. You press the button on the streamer and you can just talk, you don’t have to hold the phone, and you can hear the conversation perfectly because it is coming right into your ears. There is also equipment you can add to your home phone or your home television that will enable the sounds to go directly to your hearing aids. They can be a godsend, particularly with television shows that have a lot of dialogue or when they have young actors who mumble or talk to the floor and you can’t see their face.
How can hearing aids change the impact of hearing loss on business?
Getting hearing aids meant the world to my business because as I mentioned, I couldn’t hear clients, or I couldn’t hear conversations on the phone, or couldn’t talk to my co-workers. If you’re struggling to hear at work, or if you work with someone who is struggling to hear, be compassionate. Explain to them that you know there is an answer there. You can get some help. There is someone who has gone through what they are going through. Try to be understanding when they go through the process of getting hearing aids. Getting hearing aids does not automatically mean you can hear a pin drop. Tell people “Please don’t talk to the floor” or “Please look at me when you talk” or “Don’t mumble, learn to project”. Don’t be embarrassed to say “I didn’t catch that”. Lots of times with clients now, I’m not embarrassed about hearing aids, I’ll tell them upfront that I’m wearing hearing aids which means sometimes I might miss something. I tell them if it looks like I don’t understand or that I haven’t heard them, it’s okay to say to me “Did you hear that?” I won’t feel bad about it.