Contributed by Debbie Clason, staff writer, Healthy Hearing
Retired business owner Tom Webb didn’t think he had a hearing problem when his wife first began encouraging him to have his hearing tested. Now, almost eighteen years and three pairs of hearing aids later, he’s a firm advocate for the hearing aid technology he wears and the audiologist who helped restore his ability to communicate with colleagues, friends and family.
High cost of hearing loss
“Personally, I wasn’t hearing things correctly and would embarrass myself by making comments that didn’t have anything to do with the conversation,” he admits. “It’s not fair to your wife and the rest of the family when you miss the point and you should know what’s going on. It’s an easy solution to get your hearing tested and find out what your needs are.”
Tom said he started “giving up on conversations” because he couldn’t mentally keep up with what was being said. For Tom, that meant having problems distinguishing between words like Sue, due or blue. In addition to communication problems at home, he was also having trouble understanding what was going on at work. “All of a sudden in front of customers, I was making mistakes because I didn’t hear correctly. My communication just wasn’t what is should have been,” he said. “When I put it together with what was going on in my personal life, that’s when it became evident I needed to have my hearing tested.”
Ultimately, Tom responded to an ad in the newspaper for a free hearing test and breakfast, where Susan Marshall, Au.D., with Brookside Specialty Center was discussing the newest hearing aid technology. She identified Tom’s degree of hearing loss and fit him with his first set of digital, programmable set of receiver-in-the-ear (RIC) hearing aids.
At first, he admits wearing the devices felt unnatural — “like having a little finger in your ear” — but now that he owns his third generation of hearing aids, they are so comfortable and lightweight he often forgets he’s wearing them.
“It’s like getting part of your life back,” Tom says. “Now I can be totally involved in the conversation without fear I’ve missed something or that I’ll go off on a tangent.”
And it isn’t just better listening comprehension that he appreciates. One of the more pleasant surprises he experienced occurred when he and his wife traveled to Chicago to attend the theater with some close friends. As they walked from the controlled environment inside the theater to the sidewalk outside, his hearing aids automatically adjusted to minimize the noisy sounds of passing traffic.
Tom believes his hearing aids are a gift he gave himself as well as to the other people in his life.
“Hearing aids will never restore your natural hearing, but it comes pretty darn close,” he said. “If a family member has trouble communicating with you, it behooves you to get your hearing tested. At least you can see if you have a need. Don’t hold yourself back because you’re too stubborn to accept what your hearing can’t do. And when you find an audiologist you trust and who values your business, it’s a win-win.”
If you’re ready to address your hearing loss and want to find a hearing care professional like Dr. Marshall, Tom recommends asking friends and relatives for a referral. You can also visit Healthy Hearing’s Find a Clinic directory where you’ll find verified patient reviews for hearing centers in your community.