Well, tomorrow is my audiology appointment with the new doctor. According to my DVR counselor, the doctor can just call, email or fax her recommendation for me while I am there, and it will be approved for purchase instantly. Then, depending what’s in stock and what I need, I could very well HAVE hearing aids tomorrow. It’s kind of scary.
Actually getting them tomorrow will depend on what I need vs. what’s in stock (as well as what I want vs. what’s in stock because I am leaning towards the baby blue ones and I’m thinking they probably don’t keep a ton of those on hand…). I am 99% sure I will be getting BTE (behind-the-ear) hearing aids with RITE (receiver in the ear). For the brand that the audiologist carries, that means I won’t need custom molds made up (read: no wait time on ear molds).
I’m a little torn on how to feel. Excited, yes. I hope they will help, that I can hear better with them and that they will result in lower stress and fatigue levels. I’ve done a lot of research and reading and was surprised — at first — to learn that people with unassisted hearing loss tend to have higher stress and fatigue levels. The stress is pretty self-explanatory, but the fatigue is interesting. It seems you (the person with hearing loss) do a lot of subconscious work to process what you hear, be it reading lips or mentally filling in the blanks of the sounds you aren’t hearing. As I’ve learned about this, I’ve seen it in myself a lot more. It never really occurred to me just how many sounds/words I don’t hear in a conversation, but my brain uses context to fill in the blanks for me. I imagine that’s a lot of mental work I’m not even aware I’m doing!
It also explains why if you say something random or out-of-the-blue to me, I often don’t know what’s you’ve said because I don’t have the context to work with. Interesting.
I’m also secretly geeked out about the Bluetooth capability they have and can’t wait to pair up my phone, iPod, TV, computer… just call me robo-head. ;)
As for the scary part, well… I’ve read that it takes time to start to re-recognize sounds you haven’t been hearing. Your brain has to re-learn them, and depending on how bad your loss is and how long you’ve gone without hearing those sounds, the harder it is to re-learn them. Public service announcement: This is why it’s very important to treat your hearing loss NOW, rather than later. The more hearing you lose, the less you can “get back” through hearing aids. Make note (you know who you are…).
I’ve read that getting hearing aids can be tiring and frustrating learning to use them and acclimating to the unnatural sounds they produce. Hopefully (fingers crossed) the ones I will be getting are the top-of-the-line for my type of loss and as natural sounding as possible, but at the end of the day, it’s still artificially amplified sound.
I worry about how they will look and feel. I get sore after wearing a headband for a while (where they press behind my ears) — will hearing aids be like that? What about with my glasses? Are my glasses going to get in the way of the hearing aids? what about how visible they will be? Will people see the aids and the wires easily? Does it matter? Will I care? I’d like to say I honestly don’t care, but as it gets down to it, I’m feeling a little self-conscious about it. And with that comes guilt for feeling self-conscious because I don’t feel judgmental about people I see with hearing aids, so what would it matter if I have them?
My last concern for tomorrow… what color should I get? :) They come in a range of metallic colors — beige, tan, brown, black, light or dark silver, white, and baby blue. Clearly the first 7 colors are made to match skin or hair colors. But baby blue is my FAVORITE color and I am really considering them as my choice. For some reason, the flesh colored ones skeeve me out (and really, who are they fooling? They don’t blend in!) and the dark brown ones to match my hair would look like I had little logs of poop behind my ears. I’m pretty sure if I was self-conscious about hearing aids to begin with, knowing they looked like little turds tucked behind my ears wouldn’t help matters. So then what? I was thinking silver, as that’s “techhy” and I like techhy, but baby blue sure is pretty…