Over a number of years in my fifties, I found I was avoiding some social situations more and more. It wasn’t that I was deaf exactly. I could hear, but people had stopped making much sense if there was any background noise.
Understanding dialogue in T.V and films was a bit hit or miss and certain sounds like the pips on Radio 4 had me reaching rapidly for the radio off switch because the sound actually hurt.
Interestingly, I didn’t consider that anything could be done for me, but when I saw a poster in a local optician that mentioned Tinnitus and free hearing test, I booked an appointment.
According to the NHS Tinnitus is a ringing or buzzing in the ear, which is a very mild description of a condition that can drive a person utterly bonkers with sounds that range from hissing, beeping, roaring and my own personal 3 a.m. nightmare, a kind of electrical hum.
Well, my hearing test revealed hearing loss severe enough in my left ear to be in need of a hearing aid immediately, and one that was recommended for my right ear, which was not quite so bad. I was told that using the aids would also help to alleviate the tinnitus. Unfortunately the price tag for two basic aids started at over £2000.
I muddled on without either for about another eighteen months finding most social situations with background noise, any high ceiling-ed room and so many cafes and pubs were no longer a pleasure to visit.
If I had to go out I developed the standard smiling and nodding technique adopted by so many people who are hard of hearing and I just crossed my fingers, hoping I wasn’t agreeing to something I would later regret.
I also, largely stopped listening to most music, as some notes actually hurt.
Eventually someone suggested an NHS hearing test and I was seen, quite to my surprise within 6 months and given first one hearing aid and within another few months, the second…