I received an email from a new hearing aid wearer who wanted to ask a few questions of me and the readers of my blog. My answers appear in italics. Please post your responses in the comments section. Thanks!
1. I find myself frequently adjusting the volume on my aids, having come to see that as an advantage. In fact, I can turn them up loud enough so that I can hear things going on in the next room! I'm wondering if you and other subscribers use your aids in this manner, or if you just keep your volume controls at the same setting all day? The problem I have is that now I can't tell how loud something "really" is, and I'm afraid that I might adjust the volume on things like radios, etc. too high or low for others. I try to watch peoples' reaction, but I can never be sure. I'd appreciate knowing how you and other subscribers deal with this matter. Also, is the practice I've fallen into of turning my aids off in very noisy places and when I really want to concentrate common?
Speak Up Librarian: My hearing aids don't have volume controls. My options are to switch between different programs, add an assistive listening device, or take them out. When I'm concerned the volume is too loud for others, I ask and try to come to a compromise. I do the same thing as you when it comes to noisy places, I take my hearing aids out.
2. I've learned of a way to have my current BTEs attachable to eyeglass frames, so my visual and hearing helpers can be combined and put on and off at the same time. Have you or anyone else had experience with this option?
Speak Up Librarian: I haven't tried that. It's an interesting idea, but there are many times where I wear my glasses but not my hearing aids and I wonder how tricky it would be to separate them.
3. I'm frequently aware that people are making a special effort to speak loudly and directly to me, I guess because they see my hearing aids. Do you frequently have this experience?
Speak Up Librarian: No. Generally I get that response only after I've told someone I'm not hearing them and it's something they really want me to know.
4. Several times a week I'm asked about my aids. I guess as a female yours are more hidden by your hair? Do you make any effort to hide you aids/hearing problem, or do you want people to know? From what I've read on your blog, you were never embarrassed about getting hearing aids. How do you feel your husband, children and coworkers have adjusted and accepted your need for hearing aids?
Speak Up Librarian: No, I don't hide my hearing problem. In fact my friends and family frequently wish I would just shut up about it already. (That's me "reading their minds" - not that they've said that.) I haven't been embarrassed about getting hearing aids. But I have been embarrassed when I think people perceive me as stupid or slow when I don't understand them right away. Even after 5 years, I still find it difficult explaining my situation to library patrons. I read in a book last night that librarians tend to be very private about themselves in their interactions with library patrons so that could be a factor. When people are coming to me for help, I guess I want to appear "all knowing" - an occupational hazard perhaps. Since it's been 5 years now, I think my friends and family have accepted the situation. As we tell teenagers, it does get better.
Thanks for your email. I'm looking forward to reading the responses of other readers of my blog.