I have hearing loss, but I’m not deaf. Big difference.
For example, I don’t need to wear my hearing aids most of the day — when I’m working on the computer, talking on the phone, eating at home, or taking a walk. But I do need them to help amplify what I’m trying to hear in noisy restaurants, while attending a sports event, seeing a movie, watching TV or listening to the radio in the car.
My hearing loss has been caused by a combination of factors: way too many rock ‘n roll concerts in my teens and 20s, age, heredity, scuba diving, and more. In fact, after a Who concert decades ago, my ears once hissed for two full days, a sure sign of damage.
How A Heavy Metal Drummer Deals With a Loss.
In “Sound of Metal”, now streaming on Amazon, the Oscar-nominated Riz Ahmed plays Ruben Stone, a heavy metal band’s drummer who suddenly experiences a profound loss of his hearing.
He wakes up one morning after a long, loud concert and can’t hear the blender, the coffeemaker, the shower, or even a pharmacist speaking to him — and it freaks him out, as it would you.
Ruben then seeks the services of an audiologist and discovers that he has less than 20% hearing in one ear and 24% in the other. In short, he’s told that his hearing is deteriorating rapidly, that he should “eliminate all exposure to loud noise” immediately, or his condition will continue to worsen and he will go deaf.
Comparatively, my hearing is about 25% in one ear and 75% in the other. But I don’t operate heavy machinery, work in a factory, or bang drums for a living.
As a former addict, Ruben’s girlfriend suggests that he check into a rehab facility for the deaf to adapt to a new lifestyle and to leave his potentially threatening world behind.
Learning Sign Language.
Also Oscar-nominated, Paul Raci plays Joe, the manager of the rehab house who lost his hearing in Vietnam. Slowly, Ruben learns sign language while learning how to get his head around the fact that he will no longer be a musician.
Eventually, he looks into expensive bilateral cochlear implants as a last resort because he’s too far gone for hearing aids to help him.
Interestingly, this movie just won an Oscar® for Best Sound — an amazing accomplishment because parts of the movie are silent or sounds are muffled to emulate Ruben’s changing world.
I won’t tell you which path Ruben chooses; you’ll have to see that for yourself. But I highly recommend this movie for a peek into the world of the hearing-impaired, how it provides hope in the face of despair, how people in the deaf house communicate, and how it can change one’s outlook on everyday things you take for granted like hearing your coffeemaker percolating, birds singing, or the wind rustling leaves in trees.
How to Tell If You Have Hearing Loss.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has guidelines for recognizing signs and symptoms that you should be aware of hearing loss. These include:
- You may notice that speech and other sounds seem muffled to you.
- You have difficulty hearing high-pitched sounds like birds, phones, alarm clocks, etc.
- You have difficulty understanding conversations in restaurants, concerts, and other noisy places.
- You have difficulty understanding speech while on the phone.
- You have trouble distinguishing speech consonants such as “s” and “f”.
- You ask others to speak more slowly and more clearly.
- You ask someone to speak more loudly or to repeat what they said.
- You turn up the volume of the TV, radio, or electronic devices.
- You have ringing in your ears (tinnitus).
- And you have a hypersensitivity to certain sounds.
The only solution is to have your ears evaluated by a qualified audiologist with an audiogram at least once a year. And if you do have significant hearing loss, buy a (PSAP) Personal Sound Amplification Product or hearing devices.
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SGD is a San Francisco Bay Area advertising, marketing and branding agency specializing in the senior and boomer markets. We’ve successfully positioned, branded and rebranded senior-oriented companies, weaving traditional and online tactics to create compelling stories that drive response.
About the Author: Gil Zeimer is a Partner at SGD Advertising.