To hear or not to hear, that is the Question

img_2931Odd question to ask yeah?

Well maybe not, depends on your situation and what you’ve grown up with.

General Bloodbath McGrath knows….


I’ve always had a hearing issue with my left ear, sound is weak or just not there, can’t use a telephone to my left, struggle in environments with lots of background noise or environments with loud noise such as vacuuming, loud TV, etc

I never realised how bad it was until a colleague of mine was trying to attract my attention but was unable to so he sent me a text message instead – he was stood behind me on my left side, I heard nothing.

So I went to the GP, explained the situation and was referred to ENT. A few months later I had an appointment and spent several hours in ENT mostly waiting as they were stupidly busy.

Standard stuff, hearing test first, which was quite funny as the audiologist had to open the door and ask the people outside to keep their voices down as I could hear them – through my right ear!

Results, well my right ear was perfect with no hearing loss what so ever. My left, well that wasn’t so good, massive hearing loss across multiple frequencies.

So off to see the consultant who decided to clean my ear out before full examining it – vacuum tube went in, turned on and…..

WTF!!! The worst pain of pain inside your head that you can imagine, everything started spinning and I felt queasy as hell! The consultant stopped, waited until I was comfortable (but not overly concerned) and then had a look.

Oh yes, that’s the problem – you don’t really have an eardrum in there……

No eardrum, and a vacuum – no wonder it felt bad, the vacuum caused all the inner ear to go nuts!

Now I’d had this pain once many years earlier, I assumed my ears were blocked so I went to the chemist and they gave me some drops to clear it – drops went it and within seconds I wanted to rip my ears off because of the pain, I assumed it was the drops and never used them.

Back to the consultant, he had a look around and said there was also a lot of scar tissue where it looks like my eardrum had attempted to repair itself over time but hadn’t.

I was given a few options

  • Do nothing, I’ve had lived with it for 30 years at that stage and it was my norm.
  • Look at surgery to attempt a repair, but might not be successful so could make it worse.
  • Have a hearing aid.

I opted for the hearing aid.

Cold gloopy liquid was poured into my ear to make a mould, I was then told it would be a few weeks and I’d have a hearing aid.

And sure enough, a few weeks later I was back for my fitting.

img_2933Fitting was quick and easy, quick test involved and care/use instructions provided. I was also told that my brain would need time to relearn noise and how to filter out background white noise and this would take around 3 months. Not for me, inside a month and I’d reprogrammed it!

The difference was astounding, I could hear everything – birds in trees, leaves on the floor, the indicator noise on my car at speeds above 30mph, it was such a different world.

But it comes with a cost, I have a fully enclosed behind the ear hearing aid – so the ear bit seals off my ear to outside noise and the hearing aid does all the work.

This for me isn’t good, I’ve always been a warm person and the hearing aid means my ear gets sweaty, which causes earwax to liquify and build up on the inside of the earplug.

This micro-environment makes it a lovely place for bacteria to have a party, and they do, often now! So ear infections are now a common thing for me, virtually all go untreated as I let my body fight them and they don’t normally cause me any major pain, just an annoyance.

The standard NHS issue hearing aid is good, but prevents me from doing certain things that no hearing aid would allow me or that other aids assist with.

  • There is no loop setting, it can still be a problem in loud environments and some types of counters where it’s a struggle to hear.
  • I can’t listen to music in stereo, an ear bud does actually direct some music to my left ear. I can only use the right when wearing my hearing aid.
  • I still can’t use a phone on my left ear, feedback central!
  • The volume control is poorly designed, its a roller so you don’t know what its set to because it doesn’t click or give any audible feedback of levels – so you can knock it and go from a quiet environment to a loud one and find out quite quickly its too loud!
  • You can’t turn it off other than removing opening the battery housing – sometimes silence in that ear is a peaceful experience. Sound can still overwhelm me at times.

Some people have said go private, but a private hearing aid is costly and if it is an enclosed earpiece then its fixing half the issue.

So with all this I have to make a choice, wear the hearing aid and hear but have various issues or not wear the aid, struggle slightly but not have the same issues?

At the moment its wear when I need to and not wear it most of the time, the issues out weigh the gains – for example I wore it the day I got married as it was an important day, but most of the time I don’t. This makes being in public situations sometimes difficult, but my wife helps me with that and knows when I am struggling.

And we’re not quite finished, after having a discussion with my Mum one day a couple of years back she told me that my lack of ear drum was probably down to when I was living in Hong Kong as a child – I had a massive ear infection, so much so that the eardrum burst and the after effects weren’t pretty. It also transpired that my grandfather also had hearing problems in his left ear caused by…….a lack of an eardrum!

Remember, if I don’t acknowledge you then it might be that I can’t hear you – and yes I may turn my head or move so that you are on my right hand side, please don’t be offended by this or if I ask you to repeat yourself.

2 thoughts on “To hear or not to hear, that is the Question

  1. My mum has a problem with her left ear where she can practically hear nothing so this was a very interesting read for me, I’m going to get her to have it checked out properly!

    Glad the hearing aid helps as you said on special days so you don’t miss anything ☺️

    • Your Mum will have a couple of options, she can ask her GP for a referral to ENT or you can bypass the wait and go to a hearing centre such as some branches of Boots, she can have the hearing test done and then if she needs an aid can decide if she wants to go NHS or privately.

      It does help and I do wish at times I could wear it more, but its a trade off for me so I pick the days I do wear it so I can get maximum benefit at minimal issue.

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