Stray observations from the hearing-impaired

So small, yet so expensive. (Source)

So small, yet so expensive. (Source)

I was thinking the other day about my hearing aids. They’re second-nature to me, but I know they stick out and not every 27-year-old is walking around with them. In case you ever wondered what you’re missing, I’ve collected some observations on being hearing-impaired yet also not being old enough to be your grandma.

First of all, if you’re like me, you may very well never find a proper set of ear buds that fit right, or sound balanced. My right ear canal is a lot wider than my left due to a surgery 15 years ago, so the two don’t even match. And the right one has significantly more loss, so the sound is never quite right. It’s more noticeable on some songs than others, but luckily I’m not an audio snob (what a shame it would be if I was), so it doesn’t really bother me.

Second, I have no sense of direction when it comes to sound. So many people have called my name from across the room or street and laughed to see me whip around to face the almost complete opposite direction. It will probably happen at least once this week.

Third: Be grateful for the money you’ve saved by not having to shell out the cash for hearing aid batteries every few weeks. I feel crazy stalking the Walgreens and CVS ads, waiting for a good sale on size 13 batteries and buying up whatever I can afford in a given week. One battery lasts about 10 days with my current ones.

Speaking of which, fourth: Be way more glad you don’t have to invest in a new, absolutely necessary several-thousand-dollar expensive form of technology every five years. It’s like shopping for a really expensive TV and surround sound system, except way less fun, and you have to have it or else you can’t go out in public. Also, it’s possibly more expensive. I swore after getting my current pair in 2012 that I’d be a responsible grown-up who saves up for such things by the next time this need came about. That means I’ve got about three more years to become said grown-up and save a few grand.

Fifth: If you ever meet another person your age with hearing aids, you will just lose your mind with excitement. It doesn’t happen often, but it happened to me at work last week, which got me thinking about this to begin with. My company is huge, and there’s a good chance I’ll never run into this guy again, but I saw his hearing aids when I stood behind him in line in the cafeteria. I tapped his shoulder.

“Hey!” I said, pulling my hair back with one hand to expose my left hearing aid, and pointing at it with my other hand.

“Oh hey,” he said, surprised. He said something about how there’s probably not too many of us with hearing aids at work, which is probably accurate, since I’m guessing the average age of employee there is 32.

Sixth: Never listen to music while getting ready in the morning, sans-hearing aids. You’ll be mortified by how loud your music was once you do put them in, and you’ll hope your neighbors already left for work.

Seventh: Some bars/restaurants on certain days are just off-limits. Sad but true. There are workarounds, but sometimes it’s just not going to happen. Luckily the people I run around with are understanding if I want to leave or if I just want to stay out of the conversation for a little bit.

I’m just glad it’s not like that all of the time. Sometimes it’s a pain that I have to wear them, but I’m so glad I have them every day.

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