Hearing Aids Helped Curt Enjoy Family and Social Gatherings Again
Don't Let Hearing Loss Lead to a Lackluster Life
Like most changes, it was gradual – a missed word or two in a conversation, a puzzled look from a friend when a reply apparently didn't match the question asked. Before Curt Crouch knew it, he had unknowingly become withdrawn. He couldn't hear enough of what was going on to confidently socialize with those he cared about in unfavorable environments.
After three years, Crouch's wife pointed out that he had developed a tendency to "fade to the back" when they were out to dinner.
"I really couldn't tell what was going on [at dinner]," Crouch said. "There was so much noise around me that I just couldn't hear. So I'd kind of check out."
Fortunately, Crouch's wife had some audiology connections. She reached out to her colleagues, and the family was referred to Leisha Eiten, Audiologist at Boys Town National Research Hospital.
After conducting a full hearing test, Eiten discovered that Crouch had high frequency hearing loss, which limited his ability to hear in noisy places or when sounds were above a certain pitch. She fitted Crouch for hearing aids, and the moment they came on, Crouch realized that he had become used to a lackluster life. His wife recounts that he looked like a little kid at Christmas.
"She told me, 'Your face lit up and you smiled like you haven't before,'" Crouch said. "It was little things like paper ruffling or Leisha typing on the keyboard. I thought to myself, I haven't heard that for so long. It was very exciting."
Hearing Aids: Curt's Story - Boys Town Ear, Nose & Throat Institute
About three years ago, my wife had been telling me that every time we go out to dinner, you just kind of sit there, and as dinner goes on you just start fading to the back. You don't really seem energized or get into the conversation. I really couldn't tell what's going on. There was so much noise around me. I just couldn't hear it, so I would kind of check out. On the phone, yes, I'd always have to try to turn that receiver volume or listen very, very closely. Hopefully nobody else is around, or I don't hear any other noise, and I can concentrate on that. TV is, can you hear that okay? I'd just turn it up and she'd say, it's kind of loud. No, I'm doing okay. When you start putting a lot of those together it gets to be pretty much time we should at least get this checked. "How do you feel like you're doing with conversations when there's no background noise?" Leisha Eiten came very highly recommended so that's how I ended up at Boys Town. She did the full hearing test and I have a high frequency loss from a lot of years working in a manufacturing plant. I had hearing protection but I don't think it was good enough or you know, I tried to always do what you should, wearing it, but just over time and then of course, music. I went to plenty of concerts so that was a factor and just age. I started losing some of that high frequency so it made it hard to hear. "When people say, why do you need two hearing aids? That is exactly why." She recommended the aids that I have now because I'm a kind of a technology person and they have an app built right onto the iPhone. I downloaded that and I can also do it on my I-watch. I can control everything with my hearing aids either from my watch or phone, so it doesn't look like you're always messing with them. There are settings that Leisha has programmed in for restaurants. I can save specific restaurants even and when we go there, I just push that button and it cancels out all that noise. I can concentrate and I can hear the people that are talking. It just kind of refocuses everything and most people don't realize that I even have them. It was a long time before co-workers even said, did you get hearing aids? My wife said you acted like this little kid at Christmas. She said your face lit up you smiled like you haven't before. It was things like paper ruffling, or Leisha was typing on the keyboard and I thought, I haven't heard that, like that, for so long. I checked out. I kind of missed all that stuff for years and it was just, everything around was like, oh my gosh, this is so new. It was very exciting and it really helps. It was something that you wished you would have, pun not intended, listened to before, right? You should go get it checked, but boy, I don't go anywhere without it now. It's pretty nice. Do not wait. I hesitated for too many years and you can't get that back, right? You've missed it. I've recommended a couple of family members, in fact, that went to Leisha and had a superb experience. She does such a great job fitting the equipment to what your lifestyle is. It's so nice to be able to hear people and understand and be part of conversations. It just makes life so much better, when you can be part of it.
Making up for Lost Time
Studies show that untreated hearing loss can negatively affect an individual's quality of life. Someone who is losing their hearing may experience loneliness, decline in social activity and reduced self-esteem.
Sadly, Crouch felt these effects before getting his hearing tested. He remembers attending holiday gatherings and feeling as if he was missing out on something.
"Before [my hearing aids], I'd sit on one end of the table, and I didn't hear anything but the first one or two people next to me – and we usually have 20-30 people," he said. "I missed everything that happened farther down the table. Now I can hear everything that goes on."
And when Crouch says everything, he means everything! One of the features of his hearing aids allows him to use his phone as a microphone. Now he can put his phone down at the opposite end of the table, and the conversation there is routed directly to his ears via Bluetooth. He uses this communication technique that Eiten taught him at meetings and, of course, when spending time with his family over the holidays.
As a result of his improved communication, Crouch is reconnecting with loved ones and seeing his relationships grow. He feels comfortable catching up with friends, regardless of how noisy the room is, and going out with his wife to get dinner or meet with friends. He no longer notices side conversations taking place without him at social events.
"It's nice to be part of the whole activity during the holidays when there are lots of people around," he said. "Life is just so much better when you can be a part of it."
Hearing Help for You, Too
If this experience sounds all too familiar, Crouch has some advice for you: Get your hearing checked.
"Do not wait," he said. "I hesitated for too many years. You can't get that time back – you've missed it. So just go do it. It's so easy, and they are so nice at Boys Town Hospital."
If you or a loved one is concerned about your hearing, call (531) 355-6540 to schedule a hearing check with a
Boys Town audiologist.