Tess Barker's Starkey Hearing Journey

Tess Barker is a Los Angeles based comedian and writer with hearing loss. She is one of the co-hosts of the Lady to Lady podcast on Maximum Fun network and recently wrote an article this May for Vice.com on her hearing loss. "My Hearing Loss Felt Normal Until I Tried to Fix It," tells Tess' story about trying to get hearing aids, the difficulties she faced and the feelings she experienced. After reading her article, Starkey reached out to Tess and was able to fit her with hearing aids. We caught up with Tess to see how she's doing, and this is what she said.

I’ve had single-sided  hearing loss all my life. It’s all that I’ve known: whipping my head around when someone talks to me in a crowd, automatically veering to the right when I’m walking beside someone and I hear, “Watch out,” because I don’t know what I should be watching out for. I am constantly adjusting and apologizing for my bad ear.

My bad ear and my good ear. That’s what I call them. The good one, the left one, does all the work and gets all the rewards, like hearing the music in headphones and the laughter at a party. The bad one, the right one, betrays me. It leaves me confused in conversations. It makes me seem rude-or unintelligent-or both. Nothing went into my bad ear-not until I tried a Starkey hearing aid.

Within the first few moments of having my hearing aid, I was overcome with several sensations. Hearing with my “bad ear” felt like cracking open a locked safe. Suddenly, after years of feeling like a doormat, the right side of my head felt alive and stimulated. Lynn, the audiologist who fitted me with the aid, had me face away from her. She moved to several places around the room, speaking to me from different directions. To my amazement, I could sense when she was moving and where she was standing.

As we walked together, I was able to walk on a person’s left side and successfully hold a conversation with them for the first time in my entire life. I could even hear the click of her heels as we entered the office kitchen. I was startled by the sounds of the loud water faucet and the heavy cabinets opening and closing…how loud the faucet sounded when it turned on, and how much the cabinet registered when she opened and closed its doors. I never realized that this was how these things sounded. It was the first time I heard these sounds before; these were senses I was never aware of. 

When I came home to walk my dogs, I experienced my familiar street in an entirely different way. When neighbor dogs barked at my own, I could recognize if they were in front of us or behind, and I could even determine which side of the street they were coming from. The entire world seemed to take on more detail. I noticed birds whose chirping used to be dulled into the background. I was aware of the kid skateboarding on the street behind me long before he rolled my way.

My Starkey hearing aids gave me the chance to meet the other side of my awareness.

Learn more about Starkey hearing aids by visiting starkey.com.

By Starkey Hearing