It’s been 8 months since I picked up my first pair of hearing aids from the audiologist’s office. Of course, as with many other men in middle age, my hearing had been on the decline for several years prior to the Big Day. I just suffered silently during those earlier years as my hearing declined — frankly, in the name of vanity (with plenty of denial thrown in). My wife and daughters suffered not so silently: “When are you going to get your ears checked? That’s way overdue!”
It really was a significant day in my life. I can best describe adding hearing aids to my daily personal accessories for the first time as similar to the day at 15 years old when I donned my first pair of prescription eyeglasses. Walking into my high school the next day, I expected every student and teacher in the building to gawk at me. … What a surprise when hardly anyone paid any notice. Even my friends barely joked about my change in appearance. (I wear eyeglasses to this day.)
When I first wore my behind-the-ear Phonak Audéo Q‘s, as tiny as they are, I still half expected that students and colleagues (I was a digital-media program director and instructor at a university at the time) would notice the tiny silver wires snaking into my ears. It’s a legitimate concern, isn’t it? If you’re mostly around a bunch of people in their late teens and 20s, it’s not appealing to add to your appearance the classic symbols of getting old.
Apparently I didn’t fully learn my lesson in high school. As far as I know, no one noticed that along with my now-gray hair I sported another accoutrement of the aging Baby Boomer male: hearing aids.
But I had to test this out. Everyone I encountered could simply be behaving politely, noticing but not saying so. So, an experiment was in order. Most times when I went to lunch or had a coffee meeting with one other person, at the end of the conversation I’d ask if they noticed that I had begun wearing hearing aids.
To this date, everyone has answered that they didn’t notice. I tip my hat, then, to the Phonak designers who made the Audéo Q such a covert device. It also helps that the receiver wire leading into my ear is silver-gray (matching my hair color), and for the behind-the-ear units I chose a color that closely matches the temples of my eyeglasses.
Still, there was some nagging doubt about my hearing aids’ supposed “invisibility.” I’m pleased to say that a coffee meeting with a friend and professional colleague visiting my town recently shed the last bit of doubt about the Audéo Q’s not being essentially invisible.
I updated Dan, fellow digital-media professional and former professional musician, on my recent work, including doing some consulting and writing for Phonak. I didn’t notice the tiny grey wires snaking into Dan’s ears, until he mentioned that he had been using hearing aids very similar to mine.
OK, already! I’m convinced. … Unless when you meet me in person you have reason to stare intently at my ears, you’ll never know that I wear hearing devices.