Getting my life back … being able to hear again.

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For quite some time, it has been apparent that I needed new hearing aids. Mine were at least five years old and even though I was getting very weary of not being able to hear, I just dreaded getting new ones – mostly because of the cost. It’s not good to put it off, though. It requires a lot of energy to have to listen so intently. That’s also why a lot of people withdraw – they simply get tired of asking people to repeat things or – worse yet — people having conversations and acting that like you are not even there because they assume you can’t hear them anyway. I’ve also read articles that discount the need for hearing aids for older folks because they don’t need to hear. Yes, you read that correctly. Evidently they are assuming that older folks don’t need to fully participate in life. Well, they are wrong!! They need to hear, especially for one of the most important things in the world — their grandchildren!! Just check around on the internet and you will also see many articles about high suicide rates for seniors – in part caused by depression and feelings of isolation. Not being able to hear contributes to depression, feeling isolated and wanting to withdraw – or worse.

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Incredibly delicious prime rib at Weiderholt’s Supper Club.

So, what to do. As many things in my life, the answer was presented to me. A few weeks ago, we were having dinner with friends at Weiderholt’s Supper Club ( http://www.wiederholtssupperclub.com/). My hearing aids were particularly poor that night, so I asked if anyone had done any research on hearing aids. To my surprise, they had and proceeded to tell me about their latest very favorable experience getting hearing aids at Costco!!  About two weeks later, after some particularly frustrating days trying to hear at meetings, I decided to make an appointment and see what Costco’s program was all about.

I was able to get an appointment just one week later. The hearing aid center is in the far back corner of the Coon Rapids Costco – just a small area carved out among tall stacks of items for sale. After an hour and a half of testing my ears, it was determined that my right ear – which was damaged by a severe infection that left an opening directly into the ear drum, does not hear volume – in other words, the sound needs to be quite loud for me to hear it. Surprisingly, once the sound is at a volume I can hear, it is relatively clear. The left ear – my supposedly good ear — can hear volume better but the sound is quite distorted. The reason for the distortion is not clear – perhaps damage caused by MANY ear infections. Next, the technician fitted me with ‘test hearng aids’ – sample hearing aids that were programmed according to my specific needs. She then sent me out on the store floor – to test the aids. That was an amazing trip. First, I could hear the noise from fans, and paper crunching, and people shuffling their feet. I talked to some of the staff – who had managed to catch a little yellow finch that flew into the store. i talked to people and opened refrigerator doors. When I went back to the hearing aid area, my first comment was:”Is it always this noisy in here?” The staff just laughed.

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My hearing aids are beige but you can get them in many fun colors.

Next we set about the process for ordering new hearing aids. I was a little anxious – anticipating the cost. The last ones were about $6000. And remember – I need the premium version because my hearing is so bad. Then she gave me the price for both – $1800. I thought I was going to jump for joy. I asked about the cost of insurance (previously $250 a year for each ear). There is no cost for insurance. Each hearing aid can be replaced once at no cost within a two-year period from the date of purchase. Also, the hearing aid batteries are much less expensive. But then she mentioned that I may want to consider a different end piece (the part that goes in your ear) because the others tend to push out of my ear channel. The cost – or at least what I thought she said – $3999. I thought I was going to pass out. But, remember, I was wearing my old hearing aids. What she really said was $39.99. Much better – and my heart stopped pounding!!

The hearing aids arrived one week later – so the whole process took two weeks. And it’s like a new world. Not perfect – because nothing can fix that distortion – but I can hear much better and the cost was much more reasonable than before. I can even talk on my cellphone hands free because the sound is conveyed to both ears through wireless technology. Before, I could barely hear on a cell phone. Best of all – I can hear the background music while listening to the 50’s and 60’s Sirius channels on my car radio. Traffic – what traffic??? I just relax and listen.

And, finally, just so we’re clear – in no way did Costco ask me to tell this story. I just felt it was a story that needs to be told – in case it can help someone else hear again.

Thanks for reading this post!!