By David Michael Hahn
When I was 19, I found out that I had hearing loss. I had just finished my first year of college, and I was told I would be wearing a hearing aid for the rest of my life. It turned out that I probably could have used a hearing aid much earlier than age 19; I’d just never been tested before.
But imagine that: a 19-year-old kid, someone who didn’t realize he would ever need a hearing aid, now had to wear one before he could even have his first legal drink. And there was more to a hearing aid than just wearing it every day; there was changing the battery every 5-7 days, remembering to not wear it in the shower or when playing sports (because of sweat), taking it out before bed, and then remembering to put it back in before the day started. It had to quickly become a routine in my life, or else I would have ended up never wearing it.
But I’m very glad I added that routine to my life. Wearing a hearing aid has definitely been one of the greatest decisions I’ve ever made. Putting my hearing aid in and taking it out to sleep, shower, or play sports shows me how dependent on my hearing aid I really am, because it reminds me how much it helps me. If my battery dies while I’m out, or if I somehow forget my hearing aid, I’m in a completely different world—a world I haven’t lived in for over 5 years—a world where I don’t hear so well.
Wearing a hearing aid has changed my life in ways I never even thought possible. When you’re young and unaware that you don’t hear very well, you don’t realize that you’re missing something crucial in your life. You can’t understand why you’re the one in class who always gets in trouble for talking (“others were talking too!”). It doesn’t make sense to you that because you have hearing loss, you can’t control your speaking volume; you don’t realize how loud you’re really talking. You’re just a kid who thinks he has a superior right ear than left ear. You don’t understand that you actually might have hearing loss.
Ever since I received my hearing aid, you will always find me wearing it. I have it on constantly no matter what I’m doing (except when I sleep or if my ears are going to get wet, of course). It’s become a necessary body part to me, the same as my brain or heart. When I take my hearing aid out, it’s like someone is putting their finger into my ear and plugging it up. And as soon as I put it back in, it’s like the finger is removed and I can hear again.
Some might wonder: as a guy who is now 24, am I ever embarrassed by my hearing aid? Do I try to hide it? The answer is a definite no! I actually like when people notice it, which is extremely rare. It makes me feel different or unique. Many people in my life are very aware of the fact that I wear one, but there are also many people who are completely oblivious. It isn’t that obvious because you can barely see the wire going into my ear, and the main part rests behind my ear. But I don’t care if the entire world sees it resting in my ear; I love having a hearing aid and being able to hear quite a lot better! I’m just a 24-year-old running around with a wire in my ear (I swear I’m not a secret agent).
For those of you out there who are considering adding a hearing aid to your lifestyle, I encourage you to go for it. It will literally change your life, no matter how young or old you are. It becomes a part of you, something you never want to change. If a 19-year-old college kid can wear a hearing aid with pride, so can you!
All opinions expressed in the above text are those of the author and not necessarily those of EarQ.