The journey from recognizing hearing loss to purchasing a hearing aid can be long, and it can also be hard. There are many bumps along the road, and for many people the ability to hear can be taken for granted. Our own Sarah Bricker talks about how waiting to get help was a mistake, the struggles she faced along the way and how now, she sees her hearing loss as a gift and her hearing aids as a privilege.
It hurt at first. That much I remember.
The first ones were too large, the second too tight, and not sound like an old nursery rhyme, but the third set were just right.
They were small and almost invisible to the naked eye, their casings a tan plastic about the size of a newborn’s thumb. They were connected with an inch of twisted, clear wire, and they ended with opaque, rubber inserts. The inserts were the smallest available, the small domes usually kept tucked away for younger children and skinny teenagers.
But for me, 23-year-old adult me, those tiny child-sized inserts were the perfect fit.
I’d worn hearing aids before, well one, a black plastic, blue-tooth-like device that had a funneled dome inserted into one ear and an exterior piece that hooked over the top of my ear. It wasn’t easy to hide from the eye, but no one knew what it actually was, so I never cared. It looked exactly like the first Bluetooth devices made for wireless phones. It fit snugly in my right ear, and unlike my father’s old hearing aids that were bulky and large, this one made me feel like a corporate executive who was always taking calls and was important enough to need such a device 24/7.
It amplified sound, in the one ear, and for an hour I enjoyed the freedom of not feeling alienated, abnormal and insecure. I did not have to ask anyone to repeat anything, in fact, I had to tell them to lower their voices and stop yelling.
I was 16 when I wore this device during a riding lesson in the winter at Showtime Farms in Southlake, Texas. I was 16, and while I needed help then, I refused to accept it.
At 23 in December 2014, I discovered that device from all those years ago hidden away in a dust covered drawer and stuck between mounds of mortgage receipts and old equine vet bills. In a feeble attempt at getting out of my impending hearing test, I grabbed the familiar audio-enhancing device, flipped it on and shoved it roughly into my right ear.
Nothing. Nothing changed.
I pushed the volume up to the middle. Still nothing. No change.
I pushed the scrolling volume wheel all the way to the top, hoping and praying that maybe, just maybe, it would work.