When I was first diagnosed with some hearing loss it was in 2008, around the same time I was diagnosed with Meniere’s that is also responsible for most of my hearing loss. That’s a strange disorder, because fluctuating hearing is one of the main symptoms. It makes it that much more difficult to fit hearing aids. In the beginning I had trouble hearing on the phone and someone from a support forum online actually donated a sound amplification device that he had used for a while. He didn’t need it any longer since he had lost too much of his hearing. That worked for a while.
In 2013 I was told by the audiologist that I should consider hearing aids. I just couldn’t afford them. We had multiple medical bills we were paying off and my husband is on a fixed income.
In 2014, I was told the same thing, but that my hearing hadn’t changed drastically since the year before. Sure, I struggled at times to hear on my cell phone or I had to turn the TV way up. One day at the grocery store someone pushed their cart into my back because he had said “excuse me” several time and I didn’t move! Can you imagine?!
By 2016 my hearing had decreased even more, and I still resisted, cost being the major factor. I bought a set of wireless earbuds and connected them to my phone and tv to hear better, but that only worked if I was the only one needing to hear at the time.
2017 again I said I couldn’t afford, but it was becoming more and more difficult to function at work. I was making mistakes due to having heard the wrong thing or not hearing something at all. I hated to answer the phone or attend meetings.
December 2018, I was told that my hearing had progressed to moderately severe in 1 ear and moderate in the other. I am now financing hearing aids for 3 years and it’s a huge hit to our budget, it’s causing a lot of hardship to make the payment each month.
As soon as I tried the first set of hearing aids and heard how things sounded, it was drastic to me. You don’t miss what you don’t hear is somewhat true. I had forgotten how things sounded. Walking around in the store and hearing the wheels on a cart, hearing the sound of rain on the roof, thunder during a storm, how people’s voices sounded. My poor husband had been yelling for years so that I could hear him and now he was talking way too loud still. He still does at times, due to habit. I found out that I had been talking way too loud for years also.
In hindsight, regardless of the financial difficulties this has caused, the past year has been so much less stressful at home, out in public, and at work. I do wish that I had been able to get hearing aids many years before I did. I think that even at the milder stages it would have helped me. I also wear my hearing aids during all my waking hours, with the exception of when I first get up and have my coffee. Once I shower, the hearing aids go on and stay on until I go to bed. I barely notice they’re there. I have various programs to choose from and can even set and save other programs for specific rooms, such as the company conference room. In the past year, my right ear has also gotten worse very rapidly. All the audiologist had to do was adjust my pre-programmed choices and add another.
It is unfortunate that hearing aids are so expensive. There are many organizations that help to pay for them, but there are also people like me, who make too much money to qualify, yet they have existing financial obligations that already have them strapped for cash. Insurance should be made to cover them, at least to share part of the cost. There are so many people whose lives could be better if only they had hearing aids.