Tuesday, October 28, 2014

Just Laugh When Everyone Else Laughs

One the perks of having a hot hubby who works in entertainment PR is that we get invited to a lot of cool events like gala openings of restaurants and clubs, or annual parties celebrating magazines or organizations. It's actually a big part of the job to out and about, mixing with marketing and publicity folks, and Michael is uber-good at the social thing.

If I were cool (I'm not), I'd probably say in a blasé voice, "it's alright." But truth be told it is fun to dress up, go out and socialize - especially when there's an open bar :)

But over the past ten years or so I've started attending less and less of these events with Michael. Not so much because I don't want to, but I've noticed it's gotten progressively harder to understand conversation in loud environments (music, restaurant clatter, etc...)  and it makes the evenings really dreary. It's gotten to the point where we now have "designated date" friends to go with Michael in my place as I only go to about 25% of the invites he gets.

My hearing issue is basically a difficulty understanding conversation in areas with loud ambient noise - like restaurants or bars with music. I'll be standing with a group of people and can barely understand what someone three feet away is saying. And it's clear other folks don't have the same issues I do.

I've learned to try to read lips as much as possible, and I laugh when everyone else does even if I have no idea what I'm laughing at. It's definitely not cute. It's actually kind of mindless over the course of hours.

So, I've started doing some research on exploring digital hearing aids. Not sure which direction I'll go, but it's clear the rest of the world gets a whole lot more out of conversation than I am right now.

In starting my search on hearing info, I came across this website for Pure Audiology, which has a "Hearing Simulator." Very cool tool.

If you hit the link and scroll down, you can listen to to common sounds in a variety of environments, first with normal hearing and then with simulated levels of hearing loss.

Just to give you an idea of where I'm at right now, there's a pulldown menu for male and female speech plus outdoor and restaurant scenes. Pick the restaurant scene and listen to the normal setting; then, the "mild loss;" and then the "moderate loss." I'm thinking I'm somewhere close to the moderate loss level.

Now - after listening to that - imagine how much fun a party or event would be over two or three hours having to work that hard at hearing.

Not cute.

As I continue with my research I'll share anything I find interesting.  But if you or someone you know has an issue with hearing loss, share this post with them. I know for me it was cool to find a way to convey to my friends what my hearing actually sounds like.

Oh, and don't forget: when in doubt, laugh when everyone else does. Works every time.


  1. Hey, Randy! I'm sorry to hear that you have to deal with this particular challenge. Aids can be a big help, that's for sure, but unlike a pair of glasses, don't bring one back to "baseline."

    Since there can be different reasons for hearing difficulty, I'd encourage you to start with a referral from your doctor to an otolaryngologist who can rule in/out any various causes and who in turn, if appropriate, refer you to an audiologist who can assess degree and type of loss. If necessary, the audiologist can help you determine the appropriate type of hearing aids and assist in keeping the programmable settings in today's digital versions appropriate for your needs.

    As a Speech-Language Pathologist, a profession allied in a professional organization with audiologists (American Speech-Language-Hearing Association), I'd encourage you to use the services of an audiologist and not just a hearing aid dispenser. Just my personal and professional bias!

  2. Thank you for that! Yes - I'm definitely planning on going that route starting with a referral from my general practitioner. For now, I'm just searching online so I might understand more when I actually GET to the doc. I'm curious to see what an audiologist will have to say once tested... I really appreciate the feedback.

    It was amazing just to realize others actually hear more or better than I do. in normal settings I'm great, but add the ambient noise and it's not so cute.

    Thank you again!