As I sit here typing this, I am getting used to the sounds of my typing and all those other sounds around me, as they’re coming to me via my new hearing aids. Yes, I discovered two months ago that I have a hearing loss and having lost all of my upper range.
The strange thing is that before the hearing test, I had no idea that I had a problem. I had assumed that people these days mumble too much, that TV has a poor sound quality as standard and that everyone struggled to hear in crowded places like railway stations and coffee shops.
Asking people to repeat things that they had said was so much a part of my everyday conversation, that I had ceased to notice and my family had made it into a joke.
Being told that I had a disability was a shock and I found it hard to take in at first. Even attending my first audiology appointment, I thought that I might have a slight problem, I even allowed that one ear could be at fault, but to discover that my hearing was serious enough to require my wearing two hearing aids, was a complete surprise.
As I come to terms with my new hearing aids, I wonder just how many years I have really needed them and simply didn’t realise? One in six people have a hearing loss issue. When you think about that it’s a staggering figure. Even more surprising is the fact that of those about half will have no idea of the fact.
This problem is such a national one that The Royal National Institute For Deaf People (RNID), who have been established as a charity since 1911 recently changed their name to Action On Hearing Loss, as a way of attracting more people and in doing so, help them. It was the charity’s website which gave me my first indication that something was amiss where my hearing was concerned.
The Action On Hearing Loss website has an online hearing test and at the end of this will advise you to see your GP if there is a problem. I took the test twice and thanks to their advice, my GP’s referral and two great audiologists, I can sit here and listen to so much more than I could just a few days ago.
I can tell the real difference when I turn the aids off and the world becomes warm and fuzzy and loses its top notes. Fellow musicians will only need to think of turning off the treble on the amp, that’s my hearing without aids and it makes a big difference to every single conversation, TV show and piece of music I play or listen to.
Are the hearing aids perfect? No, I find them strange, it’s like having two earpieces in, not just for an hour or two, but all day and it feels wrong. Is the sound natural? Not quite, no, my brain has got used to a certain way of hearing and filling in gaps, things are odd. Hearing aids in no way give back hearing, but they do help and are worth the effort needed to use them. The sound is electronic, how could it be anything else, but the result is wonderful. If you have thought that perhaps you might have a hearing problem, my advice would be to go along to the website or to book a hearing test, because in this situation ignorance really isn’t bliss.