The thing about hearing loss is that no one can see it. Most people are so impatient; they just assume that the person with hearing loss is being rude, or slow-witted. – Marion Ross

It was in church, years ago, when I realized I needed glasses. My wife and I share the hymnal – she pulled it closer as I pushed it away. That push and pull went on for a few months until she said, “Bruce, you must need glasses!” She was right.

It was in the same church, ten years later, that I kept wanting to sit closer and closer to the pulpit. “Why way up front? This is close enough, or do you need hearing aids?” She was right … again!

I got the little ones. The kind that go way down in your ears – so no one would see them. They helped some, but not much. I was still missing too much in every conversation.

Wade Kirkland of Randolph Audiology says,

“Poor hearing can affect all of us as we age. Untreated, it is easy to feel like we are going downhill – physically, emotionally and socially. Negative attitudes, anger and irritability can develop along with stress, tension, depression and loneliness. Hearing loss can even be unsafe in driving or working.”

My poor hearing was causing problems at work and around the family. I would miss parts of every conversation and let things pass as I went into my protective shell.

In meetings at work, I was able to arrange the seating at the conference table so I always had the same person on my left side; that’s one of the advantages of being the owner. She knew to interrupt me if I got an answer wrong and defused some potentially bad situations more than once.

I don’t want to miss a single word.
I don’t want to miss a single word.

When our family went out to dinner, especially to a noisy restaurant, I did not understand why our grandchildren would giggle until my daughter said, “Dad, it is because you are answering wrong. Do you have your little hearing things in?”

We all laughed but I didn’t like the idea of getting old and not being able to hear my own grandchildren’s questions.

In a quiet room, one on one, facing the other person, I was fine, but in group I was uncomfortable. I needed a solution.

You can find devices to help improve your hearing at a discount store. That might be a good choice for you. They have some of the brands and if you are lucky, you may find just the right solution. Another option is the large Eye, Ear, Nose and Throat groups staffed with trained professionals who offer many choices in styles and brands.

But with my small business background, I always like the one-on-one attention a smaller firm offers. I wanted a professional audiologist who could treat my particular loss with the perfect solution. Plus, I wanted a relationship that would grow over time, knowing my needs would change.

Wade Kirkland has become the perfect partner for my hearing journey. He takes time to listen, to understand and to present various solutions, even letting me ‘test-hear’ before settling on the best solution.

When Wade first suggested the large behind the ear model, I pushed back, “Wade, everyone will think I am deaf with those things on my ears!”

Wade paused for a moment and looked at me with his knowing smile and said, “Bruce, everyone already knows you are deaf.”

Fortunately for me that message came in ‘loud and clear.’

That one exchange with Wade accomplished what my family and co-workers had been trying to tell me for months. I left his office with new confidence and better hearing.

In the years ahead, my hearing aids will become larger and the tubes into my ears will be fatter. I am okay with that because what people say to me is important and I don’t want to miss a word.

Can you spot Roger?
Can you spot Roger?

Wade has also provided a microphone device for my wife to wear in a noisy environment. I can now hear her clearly – even across a crowded room.

When we travel, I give my ‘Roger’ to our guide so that I do not need to push my way up front to hear.

Today, I never leave my glasses or my hearing aids at home – and Roger is usually with me, just in case I need to pull him into the conversation.

And there is a bonus – my wife and I now have fewer fights in church.

Do you, or your family members or friends, need hearing aids? Does Wade’s list of problems associated with poor hearing scare you? Do you think the list is real?

If we are going to live longer, doesn’t it seem best to make the extra years as full of good sounds as possible?

As always, the conversation starts here.

“In the ordinary choices of every day we begin to change the direction of our lives.” – Eknath Easwaran