Tuesday, March 23, 2021

Hope for people who can't hear

My husband has had quite a journey with his deafness.  It began when tinnitus that was gifted to him instantly, suddenly, out of the blue, on his way home from work one midnight.  One second his ear was fine, the next second his left ear was ringing so loudly it affected his hearing in both ears.  That was back when I had my first computer, a Windows 98 Gateway.  I googled everything having to do with tinnitus and found it's caused by not protecting your ears from loud noises; many people suffer from the condition, and there's no cure.  I read that some people keep a radio playing in the background so they won't notice the ringing in their ears; I bought him a Sirius radio for his shop; that thing plays "Willie's Place" all day long most every day and is probably the most-used gift I ever gave him.  If he only goes to the shop for 15 minutes in the morning, he'll often leave it playing all day. 

I asked doctors if they could do anything for tinnitus, but there's no cure.  Oh, you'll find things on the Internet that mention cures, but good luck with that.

We couldn't afford the top-rated hearing aids back then, so he started out with one hearing aid for his right ear, the cheapest model they had at the high-dollar hearing aid place.  When they tested the left ear, there just wasn't enough hearing there to work with.  That $800 hearing aid pulled in background noises, so even if Cliff tried to talk to one person in a crowd, the noise from everybody else talking drowned them out.  We started using closed captions back then, and although I don't think my hearing is too bad, it seems I have come to depend on it by association.

Because of having only one hearing aid, Cliff couldn't tell which direction noises were coming from, with or without his hearing aid; it was a little funny when I'd yell at him from the east and he'd turn his head every other direction before he located me.  You need two good ears to detect where sound is coming from.  Not that it mattered much, because he seldom wore the hearing aid, only putting it in when he was desperate to hear something.  It seemed to be his cross to bear for the rest of his life.  What a lousy break, right?  If you can't participate in conversations and all you can reply is, "What?", it's embarrassing.  Cliff would sit and say nothing; others assumed he was just quietly listening.

At the time he got his first hearing aid, he got the only kind we could afford; there were other, better ones, but prices went up to about $3,000 for only one ear.  A Facebook friend told me Costco sold hearing aids at much cheaper prices.  We had a little more money to spend this time, so I urged Cliff to get a new one at Costco.  As before, the lady said they couldn't do anything about the right ear, so he was getting only one for his right ear, again.  I don't remember what it cost at the time, but it worked much better and cost no more than his first useless one; it fit sort of behind his ear instead of inside it, and there was a button to tap if he wanted to shut down background noise.  It wasn't ideal, but it was enough of an improvement that he wore it most of the time, and he certainly did hear better with it.

A couple of times he went back to Costco and they'd tune it up to help him ; obviously if they had to do that, his hearing was getting worse.  When he went for the second tuneup, the lady wanted to test his  left ear again, and this time they were able to sell him a second hearing aid for that ear that worked so well, the difference was like night and day.  The next time he went back, they tuned it as high as it would go, and it was showing some wear and tear.  Time for a new set.

Now, all this time I was convinced that eventually my husband would get so hard of hearing, he'd get to the point he couldn't hear at all and hearing aids wouldn't work.  But the lady at Costco assured him that hearing aids are getting better all the time.  I think this set was something like $1,800 for both, maybe a little less than that.  His hearing is unbelievably better.

I wish I had known the future of his hearing journey when it first began, but I simply saw him getting deafer and isolated as he aged.  I am so very thankful that hearing aids get better all the time, while at the same time becoming cheaper.  I worried for no reason, but that isn't unusual for me.  

All my uncles (farmers with noisy tractors), had impaired hearing as they aged, and I think they all had hearing aids eventually.  I remember aunts complaining, "He refuses to wear his hearing aids," or, "Those things won't do him any good in his shirt pocket!"

If only they'd known.  But I don't suppose the improvements would have come soon enough for them.  

Technology rocks!


  1. Yes, I think tinnitus is a little mentioned malady. If people don't have it or don't have someone close to them who has it, they have no idea. The brilliant musician Myles Kennedy has tinnitus. He has a beautiful voice as well as plays the guitar beautifully. I can't imagine doing that with ears ringing loudly. I will keep your husband in my prayers, as well as you who has to watch it. ~Andrea xoxo

  2. Fortunately on our farm, ear muffs were on every tractor and in the shop and we were expected to wear them. I'm hoping that will protect me from Cliff's fate.

    My grandfather sounds a lock like Cliff. He too had bad tinnitus and his first set of hearing aids were so awful that he just stopped wearing them and grew isolated. In fact, he was isolated for so long, that even when new technology came along and we got him new fancy hearing aids which allowed him to hear, he still preferred to leave them out unless he absolutely had to attend some social function where he needed to hear. It nearly drove my grandmother crazy having to shout at him all the time because he refused to wear them at home. He eventually died with those fancy hearing aids still in the box they came in. I almost insisted they put them in after he died but he was cremated and they were worth some money to be sold back as used. I hope whomever bought them, got more use out of them than my grandfather did.

  3. My dad refused to get hearing aids which drove us crazy. He would have probably adjusted to the Costco ones but didn't want to go to the effort. They sound like they've made a huge difference for Cliff!

  4. Bob wore two hearing aids and got the new ones that were adjustable as he got worse. I wear one when I am not at home alone. Mine was $1300. Bob even sold Beltone hearing aids for a while before he started doing disasters for the Red Cross and Fema.

  5. My grandmother Moberly was stone deaf. We cupped our hands around her ear and shouted into her ear. In that day, hearing aids did not help.

  6. Greta is loving the Bluetooth on her new ones. This time hers were only 1600. A bargain. Her first ones were 4,000. I bought one and her parents bought one.


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