View Full Version : Hearing Aids

07-02-2015, 09:08 PM
I don't think those of you with normal hearing, even if it's 'not as good as it used to be,' can understand severe hearing loss. I've been basically deaf since birth, (take a look at the congenital hearing loss bit in the following article).

I was fortunate that my mother's hearing was actually worse than mine; her father's was worse than her's. Her sister also had hearing loss, but never admitted it, only as she got older was it really noticeable, which makes me think her's was different than my mother's or my own. My hearing hasn't changed significantly in at least 50 years, more likely from birth.

My mom had a very strong voice and had taken elocution lessons throughout schooling. She actually became a central office supervisor for the phone company during WWII, the youngest and first female in Chicago. She tested many different headsets and hearing devices that were being developed by Bell Labs.

I have about 22% of hearing in both ears-it's a bilateral hearing loss. I cannot hear anything behind me. To picture what I can hear without hearing aids, consider a bell shape curve. The top and curving down on both sides is where speech is. My 22% is on either side of the curve, (11%) divided by high and low. Even then it's degraded from normal. But it is enough that with someone who speaks clearly and takes the time to look at me, I can function, quite highly. That is where my mom came in. The doctor picked up on the hearing loss when I was still an infant, my mom was concerned. (Didn't happen with my brother, as Jim would say, 'the bastard.')

She made a point to talk to me from infancy, directly looking into my eyes. I can remember as a very small child, her reading books and making me repeat the words. My dad did the same. They always made sure I could see them, they never tried to talk to me if I couldn't see them, there was no point. By the time I was 3 and starting to make friends, my mom made sure the parents knew and the kids just picked up on it. This is likely when my folks started reading the newspapers aloud at meals. LOL! What started as a way to ensure I could speak normally, became a ritual that would make my brother and I current event junkies.

As I said, my mom's was worse than mine, she didn't get hearing aids until I did though. She couldn't find a doctor that would put them on me, though I failed every hearing test given in school and by doctors. 'My speech was developing fine and school doesn't seem to be a problem.' I got very good grades, what my mom and doctors didn't know until 6th grade is that I was a selective mute at school. I never was sure of what kids or teachers were asking, so I just stared at them. Give me a paper and I'll write, I would read aloud if the teacher put her finger on where to start. I just would not answer any oral questions. The school never told my parents. I had one nun that repeatedly slapped me for not answering her, I was shocked when some kid went home and told their mom, who told my mom. I got to change schools after that.

My mom went to the school and told them about the hearing, my grades, and the doctors. From the get go the whole experience was different. I always was placed in the front of the room and the teacher spoke from there-not moving around when unnecessary. Blackboards and overheads were used for notes and homework assignments, I no longer was always scrambling to figure out what the hell was going on. I finally took some risks with meeting new friends, not just the ones I'd had from 'home.'

Pretty much after that I was more or less comfortable in school. I knew what to tell my high school teachers what I needed, I was no longer afraid to speak to them after class if I felt I'd 'missed something.' I was so dang good at it, I basically skipped my last two years. LOL! Me, my Mustang, and my friends were more often driving around than in class. I'd show up for tests then be on my way. All those years of reading texts and finding out more at the library had paid off academically.

I finally got hearing aids after graduating from the university-damn! I'd gotten hired at the phone company 3 months before graduating, but when I went for the 'medical', yup, failed the hearing test. Abysmally. While they would provide hearing supplements for work environment, I had to get hearing aids for training, meetings, etc. With that impetus, mom and I went and got them. At that time between the two sets the bill was close to $10k. Now that is the cost for just mine.

Thankfully none of my kids have hearing issues, but if they did, I'd kill a doctor that refused to put hearing aids on them, though that has changed. The isolation one creates when in situations, without support, they can't control is what led to being a selective mute. I'd rather no one try to talk to me than I appear to say something unrelated. That is common in kids. In many ways kids with severe hearing problems may present as autistic, without the tics and such that usually manifest with that problem, though not at all in environments where they feel secure.

Twice as an adult I've gone for periods without hearing aids. It totally destroys my confidence in dealing with people orally. Needless to say, that's very difficult to work with or even to be with friends, as they are all used to me hearing 'something' now. It's impossible to monitor the tone or volume of my voice-which actually seemed to develop after years of wearing aids, I don't think I had the problem before-I was probably always 'loud.'

Even with hearing aids, the limitations are numerous. When in a noisy environment, all I can hear are low and high sounds. (silverware touching plates; phones ringing; refrigerator going off or on.

If in a meeting or classroom and several people are speaking at once or over each other, I'm lost.

Now there are benefits to being 'deaf.' I come home and take them out. Even when I lived fairly close to ORD planes didn't bother me. Trains running in my friend's backyard never bothered me. I went with a date to see "Tommy" live by the Who. I feel asleep.

While I thank God, my parents and good genes, I was very fortunate to be able to compensate for the hearing by reading and writing a lot from a young age. I developed curiosity while reading in various subjects, taking notes on people and places, finding books that would give me more info. One led to another. When friends, colleagues, professors would ask how I got where I did with school, it came from all the 'alone time.' I've wondered what I could have accomplished if I could have heard all that I missed? Then I wonder if I would have learned all that I have, IF I could have heard?

In all things there are blessings and challenges.

Here's a very good article by CNN of all sources:


Hearing loss an 'invisible,' and widely uninsured, problem

By Jen Christensen, CNN

Updated 11:23 AM ET, Tue July 10, 2012

If you lose a leg, insurance will likely cover the cost of your prosthesis. If you lose your arm, it's the same. Even if you lose your ability to perform sexually, more than likely your Viagra is covered.

But if you start to lose your hearing, far too often you are on your own.

If hearing loss were officially considered a disability, it would rank as the largest disability class in the country (http://www.eeoc.gov/facts/deafness.html). Some 37 million people suffer from hearing loss, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, (http://www.cdc.gov/Features/dsHearing-Disparities/)and that number will only grow (http://thechart.blogs.cnn.com/2011/11/14/hearing-loss-affects-1-in-5-americans-study-finds/) as the population ages.

Yet most private medical insurance doesn't cover the cost of hearing aids. While the Department of Veterans Affairs (http://www.audiologyonline.com/askexpert/display_question.asp?question_id=87) often pays for them, in most cases Medicare, (http://www.medicare.com/equipment-and-supplies/daily-living-aids/hearing-aids.html)which covers many more people, does not.

The Affordable Care Act (http://www.healthcare.gov/news/factsheets/2010/07/preventive-services-list.html)expanded coverage to include newborn hearing screenings when it passed in 2010, but that was the single preventive-care expansion related to hearing problems. It would take an actual act of Congress to change it further.


Jocelyn Ross knows that worry all too well. Her daughter Alyssa, born in 2009, is one of the13,000 or so children born in the U.S. each year with congenital hearing loss. (http://www.cdc.gov/ncbddd/hearingloss/documents/AAA_Childhood%20Hearing%20Guidelines_2011.pdf) It is one of the most common sensory birth defects.

In South Carolina, where the Ross family lives, roughly 4% of infants fail the newborn hearing screening, according to Ross. Yet none of them receive any help under the state's public health law. Ross is trying to change that. She founded Let South Carolina Hear (http://www.letsouthcarolinahear.org/)and helped persuade a state legislator to introduce a bill this year that would cover at least part of the cost. The legislation didn't make it through this session, but Ross is hopeful it will pass someday.


"Even when she was 2, she would point to her ears if the batteries got low," Ross said. "She only takes them off when she wants to go to sleep. She wants very much to be a part of the world, and she needs them to do this -- and so do so many others."

07-04-2015, 11:31 AM
One of these days I'll have to ask for a referral and get hearing aids. I have Tri Care but was told the VA has a better product. I've not signed up for VA as of yet. My folks and brothers all have/had hearing aids, some it helped, other's no. I'm so used to the way I am I've thought I'll just let it continue for awhile. My loss is high frequency - and I still have to have The Who cranked up on Harmon Karden. You'd think I'd learn. I do wear protection when I'm shooting, though.