On weekends, my husband and I walk our dog, Rolo, together. Rolo is blind and deaf, but is a joyful 10-year-old pup in otherwise good health.
Me, on the other hand, while I am in good health, I’ve been having some trouble hearing.
On our dog walks, we traverse a busy road for a short period of time, walking in single file. When my husband tries to talk to me, even when there is no traffic, I have trouble hearing him. Of course, his back is often toward me, but still, I used to be able to hear him when we walked this way.
I also noticed that when we are doing things around the house and talking to each other but not face-to-face, I have trouble hearing him. I was getting tired of saying “What did you say?” or “Could you repeat that?”
I wouldn’t have even given this a second thought, except at work they used to call me Miracle Ear. I could hear whispers from the next room. I really did have remarkable hearing.
On a recent visit to Costco, I discovered they had free hearing tests.
Naturally, they’re offered in conjunction with the sale of hearing aids, but I asked them if it was OK for me to schedule a hearing test, explaining I was probably not at the point of needing a hearing aid. They were happy to oblige, and we set up my test for a few weeks later.
When the day arrived, I filled out a few pages of information about my medical condition and hearing challenges, then I was escorted to a soundproof room.
The technician who would administer the test asked me why I was there, and I explained that I could not hear my husband while he was speaking to me while not facing me. We had a giggle when the technician told me that was not the best way to communicate and our ears were not geared to hear well when the sound was moving away from us.
Regardless, he began the test.
It consisted of pressing a buzzer when I heard beeps at varying tones and levels of loudness. I recognized at one point I must have missed hearing a few of the very low-toned beeps because there was too much time passing between one beep and the next.
Another part of the test had me raise my hand when a sound was too loud for my ears. Lastly, I was asked to repeat words that I heard through the headphones.
The last challenge was to check my ability to hear certain consonants. I remember my mother-in-law, who had some hearing loss, used to call the microwave the “micro way” because she could not hear the “vee” sound at the end of the word.
The test complete, I received my results within minutes: I was well within the normal limits of hearing. I had a very small problem not hearing the absolute lowest tone, but I was still well within normal range.
The technician suggested that if I noticed any further loss, I should consult a physician. He also recommended that my husband and I talk face-to-face.
I do want to note that had I suspected a hearing issue that was impacting my life, I most likely would have consulted an audiologist. Costco, while offering a free service—and I am told some good hearing aids at competitive prices—are more likely to employ hearing aid dispensers rather than audiologists.
Audiologists would have deeper breadth and depth of knowledge and offer a clinical versus a sales perspective on hearing aids.
In the end, I’m glad that I was aware enough to notice a small change in my hearing and was proactive enough to get it tested. In my work, I see far too many people who struggle with hearing loss yet do nothing to get it addressed.