In Hearing on Friday 9th Jun, 2017

Hear me out: The hearing device that changed my life

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Just one small device can make a big difference.

It has been just over a year since I got my hearing aid and I can’t believe how much it has changed my life.

I have what they call ‘minimal hearing loss’, apparently caused from scarring in my right ear.

At first I didn’t notice anything was wrong, but about 12 years ago I had a hearing test for a new job at a call centre.  The results showed there was something wrong with my hearing, but I was told there was not much I could do about it.

I started work at the call centre and was regularly using single-sided headsets to speak to customers. As time wore on the surrounding sounds in the noisy room became a problem for me.

As I aged, the hearing loss most people experience made my job difficult, even when I changed to a double headset to try to block out the noise around me. 

The various pitches in voices were a problem and if I was in a noisy restaurant or shopping centre, I found it difficult to distinguish where a voice was coming from. I was also hopeless if someone spoke to me from the back seat of the car.

It didn’t occur to me to enquire about a hearing aid. Hey, they were only for old people, right?

One day while visiting my mother, though, she told me she had a hearing aid. As the television was blaring loudly, I remarked the hearing aid obviously didn’t work very well.

She said she didn’t use it. She said she didn’t like it or need it. So I had a look at it and although it was set to her particular hearing needs, I tried it on.

It was amazing. The noise of the television nearly blew me out of the room. It worked all right!

My mother still has never worn it, which is so sad as her quality of life would certainly improve.

Even then, though, I didn’t make enquiries about getting one of my own.

But, my kids said I was talking louder and I couldn’t understand why, so one day as I was passing an Australian Hearing office, I stopped and went inside.

The woman working there told me to see my doctor and get a referral. I was on a pension by this time, but she explained there were minimal costs with a referral from your physician.

My doctor obliged, I went back to Australian Hearing, and I haven’t looked back since.

The audiologist was great and explained everything I needed to know. Initial tests were done in less than 30 minutes and then I was fitted for a hearing aid, which is almost invisible to anyone who doesn’t know I have one.

In no time at all my hearing aid arrived. It was adjusted for me – I opted for one with a manual volume switch – and I was shown how to use it. It was easy.

On top of that, for a small yearly fee I was covered if I misplaced it or something happened to it. I also got a card that I can take to any Australian Hearing office and get batteries for the hearing aid at no extra cost.

Australian Hearing encourage customers to drop in and see them any time you’re having problems with the device.

I’ve since had my first annual check-up and everything was fine. It cost nothing and they send a letter every year letting me know when my next appointment is due.

My life has changed for the better since getting my hearing aid. It only took me a week or so to get used to it.

I can hear everyone talking to me now and don’t miss the conversation like I used to, and I find I have to turn the television down, not up, most of the time.

I hear things that I didn’t know I was missing before, like birds chirping.

And I no longer have to strain to hear when I’m in the car. This is especially helpful when there is an ambulance or police car with a siren on coming up behind me.

My son is partially deaf and can’t hear in one ear, but I never fully understood the impact it had on his life. I do now and am so grateful that I can explain it to others.

As we get older, most people have a degree of hearing loss, which is what was happening to me, on top of the scarring issue, and I wish I had gone to see someone earlier.  

It was easy, painless and free if you’re on a pension. The hearing aids are minute in size and comfortable to wear.

I don’t think I am old and I don’t think a hearing aid is just for the elderly. Your quality of life improves when you can hear better so I’d recommend seeking help to anyone who has a problem.

Oh, and I do still talk a little loudly, but I’m trying to rectify that!

Do you have a hearing aid? Have you considered getting one?

Born in 1953. Came to Hobart from the north west coast of Tassie to be closer to my son as I have mild chronic bronchitis. Mild and chronic in same sentence – even that makes me laugh. Have just completed and passed my diploma in Public Relations. Love to write and have lead a reasonably interesting life. My motto: "Frankly my dear, I don't give a damn!"

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