SURRATT: Just one more sign of aging, or just needing help?
Published 4:00 am Friday, December 17, 2021
I’ve finally reached old age, I guess you could say — I’m now wearing hearing aids.
I say finally reached old age because growing up, I thought only old people wore hearing aids. I mean, outside of the occasional kid who had to wear them because of some genetic disorder, the people I saw wearing hearing aids were people in their 60s and 70s, and to a 10-year-old boy — even to a teenager — that was old, even ancient. You could see these old folks walking around with what looked like the earpiece to a transistor radio sticking in their ear and connected by a thin, braided wire to a small box behind their ears and or sticking out of a front pocket of a shirt. And like any other teen, I told myself, “You’ll never catch me wearing one of those.”
Yet here I am at “that age” and wearing something to help me hear better.
I guess one influence in my decision to have my ears checked came from my sister-in-law who’s 10 years younger than me, who told me she was wearing a hearing aid. At first, I passed her comment off — she has two children to my one, so I guess the noise level was greater around her house.
But pretty soon I found myself with some hearing difficulty and I began to wonder if I needed some assistance. At first, I passed it off to my activities during my teen years, you know, sitting in my room in Baton Rouge and playing rock music so loud my friends in Shreveport could hear it; standing too close to the speakers at the Wednesday dances at the CYO in the summer; yelling in Tiger Stadium during the ball games. Obviously, the problem was another sign of my body getting its revenge for being abused in high school.
But after a while, I began to realize those changes were more due to the passing years. And realizing I had a problem, I scheduled an appointment with my friendly local ENT and the audiologist in his office. When saw the doctor, I told of my problems.
“Can’t hear, or not listening?” he asked with a chuckle. I told him my wife would say not listening, but I believed my problem was a little more than that and explained my situation.
So after examining my ears (and no, he could not see the other side of the room) I visited with the audiologist who put me in a small room, put a headset on me and proceeded to play a series of tones to which I had to respond. Turns out, I had some nerve deafness and would need hearing aids.
So now, I wear them daily and my hearing has improved. I can now hear many sounds better and that includes all the squeaks and rattles in my truck, which is also facing old age in truck years, and hearing those noises kind of scares me.
I’m also learning that having these things in my ear is not a sign of old age, but a reminder that the human body can change and sometimes it needs some help.