Waking up to Hearing Loss

Posted by Living Sounds

I wish I’d done something sooner. Really, you will too.

When you’re just going along, living life, you don’t really give much thought to your hearing. You don’t recognize what’s happening until it’s too big to ignore. And even then sometimes we don’t do anything about it. I don’t understand why, but I’ve been guilty of it too. I finally took action with my hearing health when I had a real-life wake up call. I didn’t hear the alarm go off in my house.

I was sleeping, but you know how loud those sirens are, it should wake you. Ours is in the cold air return, right under our bedroom, and I didn’t hear it. Thankfully, it was just my son’s friend leaving for work in the morning. All of a sudden I sensed this commotion in the bedroom. My wife is up – and she sleeps like a post – and she says, “You didn’t hear that?”

Nope. I didn’t hear that. Once I woke up I heard it, but it didn’t wake me. That’s not good. That gave me the push in the pants I needed to get my hearing checked.

But it was a long road to that point for me. There were so many things that I just didn’t think about until after I had gotten help. So many things I was accepting that I just didn’t need to. So many life experiences that should have made me realize I should have been paying attention to my hearing health.

My wife would try to talk to me from other rooms in the house. I think it’s a female proclivity to communicate this way, so I’m sure she’s not the only one who does this, but it became an issue. I couldn’t hear her. I’d get up off the couch and walk across the house just to say, “What did you say?” I’d be a little bit perturbed and then she’d say, “Well don’t yell at me, I was just talking to you.” She never said anything to me about getting my hearing checked, but I knew, I wasn’t hearing what I should be.

I don’t think she actually had any idea the number of other things I was having trouble hearing. She got a new car and she said one day, “Do you hear that squeak?” I went out and I leaned into the dash and I didn’t hear it. Because I couldn’t hear it, not because it wasn’t there, but I wasn’t admitting that to my wife because I didn’t know what I wasn’t hearing. I just wasn’t hearing. Those things should be clues.

I can see how this easily becomes an issue in relationships. It’s generally the friends and family that push a person to get their hearing tested, because they’re fed up with it. But it’s the next step that’s the problem. You might know, even if you don’t really want to admit it, but you’re still not getting treatment. I know because I didn’t even after I knew.

It’s weird. If we have bad eyesight we get glasses. We have a wonky knee, we go to the doctor, we get it checked, maybe we have surgery. But I was having trouble hearing and I didn’t even think of it? That’s not right.

I suppose because my career has been in audio, I’m more aware of my hearing, but I still took awhile to get tested. I never wore headphones 35 years ago because I knew the headphones could be harmful, they were closed, not open air or buds. Instead I used the background monitors.

At some point though, I stopped being able to use regular monitors. I had to work on the phone a lot on the radio, and I began to notice that I was missing things. I’d be thinking: what did he just say? So then I was focused on figuring that out and then I’d miss the next thing. I was actually pretty good at it because for many years I worked with someone talking in my ear ahead of what I was saying live. I could process the two streams and still sort of listen, but sometimes I’d get so hung up on what I’d missed that I would miss the rest of the conversation and then I’d be hanging out there on a cliff. I’d have to get someone to repeat and it got to be a little embarrassing. I had to do something about it, so I bought a set of ear buds. I just plugged them in and then I could have them at whatever volume I needed. That was my solution. I didn’t get my hearing checked, I just found a work around.

I knew probably in 2007 that I was having a problem. I would have been about 58, so over 5 years ago. In a seminar I went to, I was told that 60 is a landmark for the baby boomer generation. It’s the point at which my generation, because we started to grow up on rock ‘n’ roll and we started to go to concerts, and all that kind of stuff, is when we can expect to start to see changes in hearing. How many times have we all gone to a concert and our ears ring for two days after? Especially a rock concert where it’s all amplified? That ringing is your body sending you a message that you’ve done some harm in there.

An interesting fact that I never paid attention to at the time is that I only wore those ear buds in one ear, the left.  Turns out my left ear is my bad ear. Thinking back on it, it makes sense. I used to hunt in my youth. I’m left handed so the booming gun was on that side and of course there was no hearing protection. There was no hearing protection for a lot of noisy activities.

I used to drag race in my late teens and early 20s. You know, you get into a car and the carpet is all stripped out, everything is really, so you don’t have the weight, and the headers are right under your feet and it’s loud, I mean really loud, and you go like that for 14 seconds and think nothing of it. But then you go back and you start it up again and you get that low, growly “arrrummm, arrrummm” and you’ve got nothing in your ears. It’s a whole-day event and it’s all cumulative, all that damage that I was doing.

I listen to music loud. I still do. I admit it.

I also worked in a corrugated plant where they make cardboard. The cardboard machine is this behemoth and they take these huge spools of brown paper – I mean they were the size of a door – and they load three of these things up and they spin. When the machine gets going at high speed you can’t believe the noise. I worked on the corrugator for six months when I first started. That’s where everybody started because it’s the worst job in the place. The noise was incredible and nobody wore hearing protection. It was a factory.

From there I went to a printing press, which isn’t as loud, but when you’re around it all day it’s still a lot of noise – the machines used to just crank. We’d run this thing at 7500 boxes an hour, or something, and I’d be standing there feeding the cardboard into it. But I was 19 years old. I was bulletproof. Or so I thought at the time.

I never did any real construction work like some guys, but I did my share of house renovations, 3 or 4 basements, and I never wore any protection, even with power hammers. You load a 22-caliber shell into those things. It wasn’t until the latest one that I thought maybe I should put some foam plugs in my ears while I punched holes in the concrete.

All of these life experiences that should have made me think about my hearing and I still waited to get checked when I started noticing a problem. Why do we do that? I don’t know. And I really don’t know now that I’ve had it treated. You miss out on so much and the thing is you really don’t have to.

Learn what happens next. {link to campaign page, this site}
Watch me chat about hearing loss with Greg of Living Sounds Hearing Centre. {link to video 1}

0   Comment
Leave A Comment