Friday, February 13, 2015

Is that aging that I hear?

If during a romantic dinner your mature date keeps craning his neck over the table it may not mean he's trying to steal a kiss or ogling your chimichangas. It could be the old coot just can’t quite hear what you’re saying.  

Or if you’re a preacher at one of the expat temples in San Miguel and some of the congregants stare at you strangely, as if trying to read your mind, maybe they are. It’s not that they are ready to accept Jesus into their hearts. Nah. More likely they can’t quite make out what you’re sermonizing about and are baffled by how Isaiah ended up in the belly of a whale.

Yea, hearing aids are another speed bump on the road between Medicare eligibility and the Six Feet Under cut-off. And an expensive jolt it is: Yesterday I went for a exam and two hearing aids and the bill came to $2,300 U.S. That's less than half what I was quoted in Chicago but still not a cheap afternoon.

Watcha' say? And at this point, should I care?
The trip to this point began a couple of years ago when I developed tinnitus, or buzzing in the ears. Fortunately I don’t notice it much unless I'm in a very noisy situation like a busy restaurant or one of those mega-decibel Iron Man movies.

Tinnitus is generally the result of damage to the hearing apparatus, in my case caused by listening to Santana and Blind Faith with earphones, volume turned way up, while smoking dope and eating pizza. That was eons ago, in college, when all my body parts worked perfectly except apparently for my brain and common sense.

And, ah, tinnitus is also often triggered by old age. Surprise.

Admitting that you need a hearing aid takes a while, in my case about a year, a process that involves one’s spouse yelling about the problem and one yelling back for him to get that sock out of his mouth and speak clearly. One can also blame it on weird foreign accents, like Australian, Canadian or Texan.

I think it's also called denial.

This dapper dude opted for the deluxe device. 
Another obstacle is cost. Hearing aids are in a class of essential medical devices, along with orthotics and eyeglasses, that are almost criminally overpriced and only minimally covered by insurance, if at all. Ever wonder why Gucci, Pucci and Fucci Minucci all hustle their own lines of eyewear?

Worse, there’s no alternative, particularly if you live in Mexico. In the U.S. a number of companies offer mail-order hearing aids some with money back guarantees. But American vendors don't extend such service to customers in Mexico.

Outfits like Costco offer “free exams” which are a bit like free grief counseling at a funeral home. The undertaker provides a complimentary box of Kleenex and a few minutes of hand-holding before hustling you into the showroom, where the $25,000 Forever Grandma line of mahogany caskets awaits you. And Costco's hearing aids in Mexico are actually more expensive than independent clinics despite its “free exam”—and some trashy reviews posted by dissatisfied customers in the U.S.

So onwards. Come Tuesday I should have those little buggers stuck in my ears.

Just don’t talk behind my back—I’ll hear you—and please, whatever you do, don’t tell me how you can hardly see the little wires coming out of my ears.

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12 comments:

  1. No wonder you can't hear your phone. :) Saludos.

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    1. I was going to call you back. But after that snide remark, you can forget it. BTW, enjoying the winter in Chicago? Ja, Ja.

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  2. We were just speaking of this in the comments over at A Gumbo Pot in her post "How I learned to stop worrying and learned to love the Spanish language". Expensive, yes. Necessary? Certainly. They are as much a blessing as they are a curse. I've worn them 20+ years and still can't wait to take them out whenever I can. Good luck getting used to them - it takes a while (I'm still waiting....)!

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    1. I'm curious how I'm going to feel. Last night we had some people for dinner and I wish I already had them because I had trouble following some of the conversation.

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  3. You just nailed the reason for post-lingual deafness: eating pizza. A survey of all deaf people over the age of sixty would likely reveal that 9 out of 10 of them ate pizza.

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  4. Geez, and I just thought you were ignoring me! Just kidding.
    Your line about the speed bump between Medicare and Six Feet Under made me laugh out loud.....
    As a little girl, my grandmother who had a hearing aid and lived alone always turned it off when we all showed up at her house. I, to this day, have no idea if she heard one single sound from any of us. She did always smile when we left though.

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    1. From my dad I found that one of the blessings of wearing hearing aids is selective hearing. He told me that when he got fed up of listening to my stepmother's rants, he just turned them off!

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  5. Good luck with the new ears. It takes a while to get used to them. You will hear things that you never heard before. Don't give up on them. Also, be very careful with them. Don't drop them or let them get wet.
    I discovered that my kids talk nasty, my wife says rude things under her breathe and that the car ran a lot better without the hearing aids. It is a different world.
    Also, for what it is worth, I got mine free from the VA. If you were in the war, explore that possibility.

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    1. I thank you for your military service, but I never served, so it's full freight for me.

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  6. My brother and I were talking yesterday about hearing loss. Our mother is part of the digital hearing aid set. I am not certain how much they help her. She seems to have no trouble ignoring us when we talk directly to her, but she can hear every word if we are whispering in the next room.

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    1. Were you and your brother talking at a normal level or yelling at each other? That could be a sign of trouble for both of you.

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    2. Were you and your brother talking at a normal level or yelling at each other? That could be a sign of trouble for both of you.

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