We are currently in the throes of purchasing hearing aids for my wife. On the face of it, this might not seem like much of a chore—after all, how hard can it be? Find a pair that works, plug ’em in, and, voilà—better hearing! Sorry, Charlie, it doesn’t work that way. If you think buying a washing machine or dishwasher is tough, try wading into the hearing aid waters without a life preserver.
It all started when Becky began to require closed captioning while watching her favorite TV shows in order to understand the dialogue. She didn’t mind it at all. I hated it. For one thing, whoever is in charge of putting those annoying sub-titles up there on the screen always seems to delight in putting them in front of the face of the character who is speaking. For another (and this is a real pet peeve of mine), the sub-titles tend to run just a beat behind the spoken word, making it all but impossible to do anything but focus on the printed ones. But I digress.
After a hearing test provided by our highly recommended audiologist, we were informed that Becky’s hearing loss was minimal overall, and moderate in the high-frequency range. She also suffers from tinnitus, a common condition in seniors that causes a constant noise, or “ringing” in the ears. Becky describes hers as a screech. I describe mine as . . . well, we won’t go there. Regardless of the tenor of the sound, it is constant, and it is pure torture to those it affects. Okay, so we now had a diagnosis. What could we do to fix the problem? Amazingly, it could be remedied quite easily by merely expending a fixed amount of money—one equal to the National Debt. Okay, it just seemed that way when I heard it presented. Hearing aids are not cheap (the average cost for a pair is $4,000 or more).
The audiologist recommended a particular brand and model, and said that we could try them for free with no obligation—once we had put down a fifty percent deposit (fully refundable, of course). That’s when things got tough. I’m a man. As a man, I am tasked with doing any and all research on any purchase over fifty dollars. For the next week or so, I spent an average of three hours per day crawling all over the Internet in search of the perfect hearing aids. I wasn’t just looking for something less expensive; I wanted some real information and some choices. The problem was that there was an over-abundance of both. There was so much information and there were so many choices, I would have needed a main-frame computer to sift through it all.
Eventually, we tried a huge, national conglomerate, but only became more and more confused. It was like trying to hold smoke in my hands. It couldn’t be done. Who was I dealing with? Were they manufacturers’ representatives, or were they commission salesmen? Did we buy the hearing aid from them, and have it serviced by someone else? Or did they do the actual servicing? I couldn’t get a straight answer. Finally, after all my hard work, we decided to shelve the investigative results and do what we probably should have done in the first place—have my wife fitted for the hearing aids originally proposed by our friendly, and highly recommended audiologist. We have an appointment for the first week in January, and Becky should be enjoying better hearing shortly thereafter—I hope. Stay tuned for the results.
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