Do My Hearing Aids Make Me Look Fat?

2015-07-08-1436394104-6589213-Kathy6115.jpgI don't know any woman who doesn't care, at least a little bit, about how they look to others. Maybe it exists in our DNA or the way we are raised. Hopefully though, by the time we get to my age we care far less how others judge us, especially our looks. And equally important, hopefully by my age we stop letting the opinions of others make critical life decisions for us. That of course leads to my recent decision to purchase and wear hearing aids.

Last month I wrote a blog post about my hearing. Not only were my suspicions verified, I was surprised by some of my own reactions to the news of my hearing loss. Nothing had changed really. I still could only hear what I could hear. But suddenly it was confirmed that not only had my hearing deteriorated, but that I had somehow joined the ranks of those folks who needed hearing aids. It was one of those moments when my perception of myself changed.

Fortunately I was able to process a lot of those thoughts and feelings by writing a blog post about it. That's why I strongly recommend journaling to anyone who doesn't have a blog. Through writing I able to address many of my own hesitations about the idea of hearing aids, and by researching, I learned why wearing them was a very important thing for me, and others like me, to do. In the end, I realized that I cared far, far more about my creativity, how my brain works, and my communication skills than I do about how I look with hearing aids.

So about a week after that post I made the call to Costco. If you remember from the first article, I had the advantage of knowing and completely trusting my Costco Hearing Aid Specialist named Ray. Not only did Ray take over an hour and a half to run every test he had available, he also assured me that he didn't expect me to buy hearing aids any time soon. That's because it usually takes people several years before they actually buy hearing aids even after they know about their hearing loss. Of course, only one in seven will ever actually buy them even though they need them -- but I covered that surprising fact in the first post!

Costco makes it easy. (FYI, this is not a sponsored post and I paid retail for my hearing aids.) Ray explained that I have a full 90 days to use the hearing aids and if I'm not completely happy I can return them for absolutely any reason for a full refund. They also come with a fantastic warranty, and for the entire time I use them I can have them cleaned and adjusted any time I walk into a Costco store.

According to Ray, my hearing loss is likely hereditary. While most people have a gradual decline in volume as they age, my loss is more like a "cookie bite." I can hear highs and lows, but it's all the middle-ranges that disappear on me. Now I know why I thought so many people were mumbling. Because my loss is a bit more complicated than typical age-related loss, current technology works to my advantage. My new hearing aids are programmed to increase the volume in the specific mid-range areas that I need. I don't hear louder, I hear more clearly.

It did take about a week to get used to wearing them. My hearing aids -- or my bionic ears as I've started calling them -- sit behind each ear with a tiny wire that comes down and enters my ear canal. They are powered by tiny batteries, which must be replaced about every four days. I'm not crazy about the idea of using and discarding so many batteries for the unforeseen future, but Costco encourages us to recycle them by returning used ones to Costco. Every night the hearing aids and wires must be cleaned with rubbing alcohol and the batteries taken out overnight and stored. Every morning you start over again. Obviously you must take care to never get them wet, misplace them or let the dog get them. So yes, there is a bit of a hassle to it all.

But there is good news! I actually love my new hearing aids. Thanks to recent technological advances, my hearing aids connect seamlessly by Bluetooth to my iPhone. It's like wearing an invisible (the hair helps) pair of headphone ear buds all day long. Now when the phone rings I can instantly answer it and hear it wirelessly in my ears. I can't tell you how long I disliked talking on the phone because I struggled to hear through what I always called bad connections. Now I know the bad connection was in my ears. I also listen to music, audio books and motivational talks every day when I walk or exercise. Everything is on my iPhone and all I have to do is hit "play." In fact, I have a hearing aid "app" on my iPhone that allows me to make adjustments anytime to my hearing. How cool is that?

However, I do have a friend who was also fitted for hearing aids about the same time as I was. Unfortunately, due to the anatomy of his ears he was not eligible for the same type of aids as I have and his were not Bluetooth compatible. After talking about it with him, it's obvious that the deciding factor for me is how the Bluetooth technology of my aids adds to the quality my life. Without that benefit, I'm not sure I would keep them. My friend feels the same way.

The advantage of hearing normally is great. Now Thom and I can watch television at the same volume. I can go to lunch or dinner with friends and hear what people on the other side of the table are saying. Most importantly after wearing them for a month I just forget that I'm wearing them at all. And as for what other people think? The only time anyone seems to know (or care) is when I tell them. Just like with a decision to wear glasses, or certain clothes, we each individually decide how they enhance or detract from our looks. Does it make me look fat? Old? Why would I even care?

What it comes down to is that most people are too busy doing what they do, and thinking about themselves to even notice my hearing aids. And because hearing aids are an improvement in my life, it doesn't matter to me what anyone else thinks about them. Like so many things that happen in life, it's SMART to remember we always have the choice to focus on the good.

Kathy Gottberg believes in living healthy, authentic, fearless and SMART. This post originally appeared on her blog with a number of related comments. For other similar topics go to SMART Living 365.

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