Shari with her husband Neil and sons Jake and Marty.
Last year, Shari entered a contest on our Facebook page and won a pair of Halo Made for iPhone hearing aids. After initially being fit, we asked her to share a little bit about herself and her hearing loss journey in this blog post. Now six months later, we caught up with Shari and asked her to share how she’s doing and what her family thinks of the improvement in her hearing. Take a look!
As a working mother of two, what were the biggest adjustments you had to make at home and at work after being fitted with hearing aids in adulthood?
It was strange to start hearing every little noise: the refrigerator, the vent on the oven, the dishwasher, the TV in the basement and of course the video games. I always kind of heard those things in the background. But when I first got the hearing aids, I think my brain was on overload. As an adult you do not adjust as quickly as you do when you are young. So even eating at a restaurant could make me tense and overwhelmed when I heard the plates in the kitchen. I really needed to try and make my family understand that I hear differently and I "feel" sound differently. No one really prepares you for how to prepare you family.
What did your husband and your sons notice after you started wearing hearing aids?
They kept telling me, “The TV is not too loud. It’s just you." But it felt loud and we all had to adjust. Now it’s not an issue at all. I think my boys were pretty amazed that I could hear a whisper and that I didn’t talk as loud on the phone. My husband was happy that we could watch Jon Stewart without it "blasting.” But really, do teenagers every truly notice their parents?
What would you say to someone who is putting off seeking hearing help?
I went to a few different audiologists until I found the right one. I think that people think that all hearing care professionals and all devices are the same. But they are not. I used three different hearing aids and there is a difference. My audiologist now, Julie O'Shea, totally gets me. She is patient and professional and knowledgeable and intuitive. But it is still a process and unlike buying a pair of glasses, it can take time to get it just right. People expect to just put on a hearing aid and walk out of the office and be done with it. But that is not what happens and you will need the support of your family and friends during the trial period.
When you get it right, it is life changing.
What did you notice most about wearing hearing aids after going without for so many years?
The first thing I noticed was that my mother has a very loud voice. :) Maybe she was subconsciously accommodating me for the first 40 years of my life. One of the big things I noticed was background music in stores. I honestly never heard it before – pretty cool. It took me awhile to adjust, but now I miss my hearing aids if I don’t wear them.
Can you talk about an experience that was improved dramatically because you improved your hearing?
My comfort in noisy situations or with dinner conversation in restaurants and on the phone is so much better. I have always been extremely social and I am a media salesperson by trade. So talking and listening are key to my success and my happiness. Both are so much easier now.
Can you share your experience with finding the best hearing aids for you?
I have kind of an unusual hearing loss. The loss in my right ear is profound, but my left ear is not that bad. So at first I only wore one on my "good ear" to help relieve the tinnitus in my "bad" ear. The loss in my right ear was thought to be too great for me to be helped with a hearing aid that was discreet. I was extremely self-conscious and did not want to even entertain the idea of anything that would be seen. My audiologist at the time was a nice man and very patient, but he did not really let me participate in choosing the device. He chose one for me that was fine, but not very adaptable and made things sound a little too mechanical. I was constantly trying to switch settings and it was turned up too loud. Then I went to see Julie O'Shea and we tried a CROS that would allow me to feel like I was hearing sounds in my bad ear. That was disorienting at first but then I really liked it. However, I still had to use a remote to change settings and the batteries did not last long. When I heard about a hearing aid that could be controlled with the iPhone, I called Julie right away. She told me about the Halo but was not confident it would work with my single-sided hearing. But she worked it out and I am so happy!
You love cooking and Pilates. How does wearing hearing aids affect your hobbies and leisure activities?
These hearing aids have improved every aspect of my life. I can stream music right into my ears while I cook and while I take a walk. When I do Pilates, I do not have to worry that the instructor will be on my "bad side" when she gives my instructions. I can adjust the settings in the theater. I can stream the music directly when I am on the stationery bike or elliptical machine or even when I am laying out in the sun.
What is your favorite aspect of Halo and the TruLink Hearing Control app?
I love the connectivity with the iPhone. I love that I can create settings. Every day when I go to work there is a point when I am walking from the parking garage that my settings switch to "Work.” I love that.
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