Follow Up. It’s a journey that pays off.

Posted by Living Sounds

My first follow-up appointment with Greg blew me away. We talked about how things were going and I’d noticed some issues in loud settings, so I brought it up. We talked about what I’d learned about retraining the brain to hear well again and how long I should expect to be in the adjustment phase. Then he asked to look at my hearing aids.

Greg took my hearing aids apart and there was this little, tiny microprocessor in there. He put this little wee jack in there, the tiniest jack I’d ever seen, and uploaded my hearing profile. I was amazed – there’s a memory in this tiny hearing aid I wear! It’s maybe ¼ inch by ¾ inch.

Greg looked over the profile that he’d loaded on screen from my hearing aids and it just kind of bumped along within normal levels and then there was this big spike. It was dramatic, you could see it.

“Jeez,” Greg says, “what were you doing there?” I might have turned the radio up in the car, I tell him and he just shakes his head, no, it’s louder than that. Then I notice it’s a Friday night. I went to a movie, a loud action film. That’s not good, Greg said, that’s really loud. So he adjusted that high end down a little bit.

There are good reasons to keep up with the follow-up appointments and the adjustments to the hearing aids are definitely part of it, but its more than just that. There are other things you have to get used to and questions that come up.

Like earwax, that’s a constant battle. It took me several weeks when I first got my hearing aids to figure out what to do. My ears itched like crazy! It’s common, hearing aids are known to dry out the canal a little, but that doesn’t make it any less irritating. What I do now is, every week or so, I use a cotton swab with a little olive oil on it, and just gently and ever so carefully brush that into the ear canal, to keep it moist. Something I learned at a follow-up appointment.

It’s hard to retrain the brain in noisy environments. I’ve been working at it, I was in a restaurant right after I got my hearing aids and I was going nuts and I could hear every plate and fork and drink and chair and person and dish, it was just a mish-mash of sound. Now I know, from talking with Cindy Gordon who puts on the Your Third Ear seminar for Living Sounds that your brain has to retrain to focus in. You have to relearn how to ignore all the extra sounds. At dinner in a restaurant recently I was able to hear the person across the table. I wouldn’t have had a chance of that happening before I got my hearing aids and now I can contribute to the conversation instead of looking standoffish.

Something else I learned on a follow-up appointment was that I was making a mistake in the mornings. I’d get up in the morning and make coffee then sit and read for 20 or 30 minutes before the family got moving. I wasn’t putting my hearing aids in. I waited until after I showered. But that was wrong, I should have been putting them in immediately. Just like you reach for your glasses in the morning, you reach for your hearing aids because you have to retrain your brain to recognize sound. Your brain is your third ear.

Despite any issues in readjustment I’ve had, each one I’ve faced, everything I’ve had to get used to, it’s all just told me something I wish everyone understood instinctively: you need to get your hearing checked if you even suspect you might have an issue. I wish I’d done this sooner because of the difference it makes.

How do you tell people about all the things they didn’t know they were missing, that getting your hearing tested isn’t that scary or that adjusting to wearing hearing aids is totally doable? Well I hope I just did. That’s what I’ve set out to do here is to tell my story, spread the word, and by doing that hopefully cause some people to take action.

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