Everything is Loud

I have officially had my hearing aids for two weeks now, and it has been interesting; let’s start from the beginning. First off, hearing aids are expensive, and because part of my Happiness Project has been managing finances, I knew that when I was told I would need hearing aids, that the finances of it would play a role. During the initial appointment, the audiologist told me about a referral program, and that if I referred other patients I would receive a discount on my hearing aids and they would too. Challenge Accepted. My dad has needed hearing aids for years and I knew this would be the perfect opportunity for he and I to save money, and actually hear when our family is speaking. He made an appointment to have his hearing checked and to literally no one’s surprise, he needed hearing aids as well.

Two weeks ago, my dad and I headed into the audiologists office to receive our hearing aids. Nothing says ‘father-daughter bonding’ like getting hearing aids together, especially when you’re 31 and 58. At the appointment we learned how to use the aids, and exactly what they would be doing for each of us to assist our individual hearing needs. To help with tinnitus my dad purchased outer ear aids, and I purchased inner ear, as I am more active.

The audiologist also warned us that the hearing aids would be frustrating for a few weeks, and that noises that we didn’t hear before, would seem increasingly loud. He was not lying. After having hearing aids for two weeks, I now ironically understand the struggle people with misophonia face. My mom has always said she has misophonia, and that the sound of my dad eating chips out of a bag is painful for her; I get it now, so does my dad. The sound of a bag of chips, or the sound of eating a chip is wildly annoying. If I want to eat a chip I literally have to take my hearing aids out, which actually causes me some sense of self-awareness and has benefited my eating habits.

The audiologist assured us that all the little annoyances would fade, and they have. Initially, as mine are inner ear aids, they were uncomfortable. They felt as if my ears were plugged and caused an echoing in my ears as if I was trying to listen while under water. I have also noticed that although I can now hear the clicking of keyboards and the running of fan blades, in other ways I have felt as though my hearing is worse. I expressed this concern during my appointment and was assured this is a normal response to inner ear hearing aids, and hearing aids in general. He explained that the hearing aid is working to help you hear frequencies which you were previously unable; because of this your brain is working overtime to process all the new information and therefor frequencies you are naturally able to hear without aid, sound softer. This has been something interesting and frustrating to balance in these two weeks. Also, the hearing aids are initially set to 65% of where you actually need them, to help prevent being overwhelmed and overstimulated. After my appointment yesterday mine are now set to 90% which should help reduce some of the frustrations.

In some ways this has been mentally exhausting. I have noticed, and my husband has noticed my increased irritability during this adjustment period. However, each day gets better and better. Each day the frustrations decrease and the benefits increase. Each day I’m grateful I started this process.

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