Jean Croker Petke

How’s Your Hearing?

How’s Your Hearing?

While traveling with a friend a few years ago, she suggested I get my hearing checked. It seems  I often didn’t hear what she said to me, though I was unaware of the issue.

Upon my return I made an appointment with the audiologist. The tests showed significant hearing loss in both ears. I was shocked. She told me hearing loss occurs gradually and usually takes seven years before a person notices. The last time my hearing was checked was twenty-five years ago.

Hearing aids require some adjustment. I had to purchase an iPhone to support the software that controls the hearing aids. To be honest, I found the phone to be the most frustrating part of the process, after using a flip phone for years. All of a sudden I didn’t know how to make a call, or answer a call, and a gazillion other things. The hearing aids were easy, the phone not so much.

I’ve learned a few things since then:

  • hearing aids are only helpful if you wear them
  • hearing aids only work if you turn them on
  • hearing aids have to be adjusted for different situations like playing the piano, restaurants, church
  • hearing aids are generally not noticeable to other people
  • hearing aids short our when my head sweats
  • on my phone, I learn a new thing only when I have immediate application for it

Every time I practice piano I turn my hearing aid volume down. If I don’t, my piano sounds unpleasantly tinny. The adjustment is easy on my phone. When I hear the ding-ding-ding in my ears I know the volume has been lowered.

One day as I was out driving I remembered I’d failed to change the volume back to normal when I finished practicing several hours earlier. At the next stoplight, I made the adjustment on my phone. Then I heard a puzzling clicking noise in my car. I started looking for the sound’s source. Fortunately the red light was a long one, allowing me ample time to search. Finally, I discovered the green turn signal light blinking and blinking and blinking. I’m not sure why that wasn’t the first thing I checked or the first thing I saw.

I laughed to myself. Senior moments had compounded to create a mystery for me — and a reality check of my hearing loss. With the volume on low, I hadn’t’ hear the turn signal at all — at least not that day.

My challenge is a simple one: return the volume to normal when I finish practicing. Seems like a simple thing, but more often than not, I forget as I move on to other things.

Why does all of this even matter?

  • Have your hearing checked as part of maintaining your health
  • You may be the last know that you’re not hearing as well as you think
  • Be willing to make personal adjustments as necessary
  • Create a reminder or prompt for simple things you often forget

Listen to the birds, the wind, the rain, the children, and the music — like you’ve never heard them before.


Until next Tuesday . . .


2 Comments - Leave a Comment
  • Deinya Mautz -

    Adapting to hearing loss can be one of the most frustrating aspects of becoming older. Restaurants and other social outings are frequently unpleasant as increased background noise and a lack of sound absorbing materials are now the norm. I no longer frequent previously favorite restaurants etc as being able to converse with my companions is key to an enjoyable outing. Movies and concerts often require removing the aids and using ear plugs as managers refuse to lower excessive sound. Hearing loss is becoming a significant condition for all ages, especially those who are accustomed to using in-ear phone speakers. I am grateful, however, for instruments which enable better communication in spite of required adjustments.

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