For years I got by without hearing aids, but then I came to the conclusion that getting by wasn’t good enough for me, my family, and my career.
I was diagnosed with hearing loss when I was a kid, but for many years I managed to get by without hearing aids, or at least convinced myself that I was getting by. I had trouble understanding speech in large rooms, so I made sure to sit in the front rows in classes and used the provided listening devices at Broadway theaters. As I got older it became clear that I was missing words more frequently and an occasional strange look from someone would make me think that I might have answered a question incorrectly. I had trouble with conversations in places with a lot of background noise.
When I reached my 30s, it became more and more difficult for me to understand everything that was being said to me. As an investment banker, I had to be able to communicate with clients in meeting rooms and restaurants and be absolutely certain that I was capturing the substance and nuance of every conversation to do my job correctly and give appropriate financial advice to clients. I relied on volume-controlled telephones but much of my job was done face to face. Finally I bit the bullet and got hearing aids about 15 years ago. Unfortunately I found that it was impossible to tune out background noise with the hearing aid technology available at that time. Sitting in a client’s boardroom, I could hear the ventilation fans whirring above my head but not the words of the CEO across the table. I found city street noise deafening and often couldn’t distinguish where voices were coming from. Ultimately I gave up on hearing aids and went back to guesswork and fill-in-the-blanks conversations.
As time went on, of course, my hearing continued to deteriorate in certain ranges. I had children and found it difficult to understand their little, high pitched voices, complicated by one child’s speech impediment. My conversations with them were sometimes like a game of Mad Libs. I couldn’t understand certain people clearly even when I asked them to repeat themselves. My daughter’s Bat Mitzvah was coming up and I was determined to understand every word. I saw an audiologist and tried new hearing aids that were completely inside the ear but found these to be really uncomfortable and had too much background noise.
Finally, I made an appointment at the Center for Hearing and Communication because I knew they offered the latest technology and state-of-the-art hearing aids. I was pleased by the care and thoroughness of the testing and fitting at the Center for Hearing and Communication compared to other audiologists I had experience with. At first I was fitted with in-the-canal aids which seemed like a good idea cosmetically, but I found that they were not the right choice for me and my hearing was still not quite right, but it was no problem to exchange them. Dr. Lafargue worked to find just the right hearing aids for me from among all the new choices available. It turned out that the newer behind the ear hearing aids are almost invisible and provided me with excellent fidelity as well as greater comfort. They are also Bluetooth enabled which means my cell phone and my iPod play right in my ears!
Dr. Lafargue tuned and adjusted my new hearing aids in the Listening Studio to make sure that the settings were optimized for different situations I would encounter. My previous experiences with hearing aids had shown me that it was very difficult to overcome background noise in restaurants and on the street, but using the Listening Studio, Dr. Lafargue was able to calibrate my hearing so I could hear the people at my table over the din of a crowded restaurant. It was truly amazing.
I can now finally understand everything my kids are saying, but having a tween and a teenager, now I am the one who has to repeat myself over and over.