Tales of the Hearing Impaired

AVGeek

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So since ihearing protection while riding was mentioned in another thread this morning, I thought I would post up here for anyone like me who is similarly afflicted. Especially since hearing impairment and loss is an invisible disability that most people have a hard time comprehending.

As for me, I have been hearing impaired for most of my life. Most of my loss is in the critical mid-range frequencies where human speech mostly occurs, so conversations can be tough at times, especially if there is a lot of background noise. To compound that, I have tinnitus, and it seems to be getting worse as I get older. It manifests as an extremely high pitched whine, similar to the old tube style TVs that were common when I was a kid. Before my dad passed last year, I asked what happened to me to cause my hearing loss, as I never really understood it, and have had to deal with it for my entire life. While he couldn't pinpoint any one incident, he did recall that I seemed to have it from a very early age.

The hardest part is convincing people that I did not hear what they heard. My wife, even after 26 years of marriage, doesn't fully understand the extent of my impairment. And yes I realize that its rather ironic that I am an AUDIO-Visual technician, but I figure if I can hear the presentation, everyone can :) Which is also why I primarily work in the video department. One of the few positives I can take from this is that I have the ability to really focus in on a task, as I have needed to do in order to understand and comprehend people. The masks that are now necessary have made conversations even harder, as I read lips to help with comprehension as well. I do hope that there will eb acute for tinnitus some day, but that doesn't seem to be as high a priority, even though it can isolate people.
 

Mak10

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I also suffer from hearing loss. In my case it is hereditary. Not that I haven’t been around loud noises. It is nice to read someone else’s experiences. My wife also doesn’t understand and I get the “you only hear what you want to” from her. I have tried the hearing aid route and they do help, somewhat. If I can compare it to glasses-I can put on glasses and it corrects my near sighted vision.

Not so with hearing aids. In noisy or crowded places it can be overwhelming.

Masks have made understanding people in person worse.

And if I put eat plugs in while riding, I can’t hear anyone when we stop.
 

lddave

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I have hearing loss from years of working in high noise environment in electric generating plants . I wear hearing protection on the motorcycle and another activity that could harm what hearing ability I still have. The past year of mask wearing has made it harder to hear what folks are saying.
 

~TABASCO~

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So since ihearing protection while riding was mentioned in another thread this morning, I thought I would post up here for anyone like me who is similarly afflicted. Especially since hearing impairment and loss is an invisible disability that most people have a hard time comprehending.

As for me, I have been hearing impaired for most of my life. Most of my loss is in the critical mid-range frequencies where human speech mostly occurs, so conversations can be tough at times, especially if there is a lot of background noise. To compound that, I have tinnitus, and it seems to be getting worse as I get older. It manifests as an extremely high pitched whine, similar to the old tube style TVs that were common when I was a kid. Before my dad passed last year, I asked what happened to me to cause my hearing loss, as I never really understood it, and have had to deal with it for my entire life. While he couldn't pinpoint any one incident, he did recall that I seemed to have it from a very early age.

The hardest part is convincing people that I did not hear what they heard. My wife, even after 26 years of marriage, doesn't fully understand the extent of my impairment. And yes I realize that its rather ironic that I am an AUDIO-Visual technician, but I figure if I can hear the presentation, everyone can :) Which is also why I primarily work in the video department. One of the few positives I can take from this is that I have the ability to really focus in on a task, as I have needed to do in order to understand and comprehend people. The masks that are now necessary have made conversations even harder, as I read lips to help with comprehension as well. I do hope that there will eb acute for tinnitus some day, but that doesn't seem to be as high a priority, even though it can isolate people.
Our stories sound very similar. 95% of your story I could have written about myself. I always wear ear plugs on the bike and in the shop to save what I have left. The other day someone said your ears are really messed up today. (in a nice way)... They said I was talking very loud and I was having trouble understand what they were saying (normal for me)
I thought I was talking normal, they said I was almost yelling..... YIKES. I can read lips pretty darn good though !

I use to be a really good slalom water skier when I was a kid. I could do a the buoys behind a friends boat and over all rip it up. I was pretty darn good at an early age, I had a million big crashes in the water. Some of these crashes I was sliding on my back in the smooth water for probably 30-40-50 yards. For people that dont know, your making tight turns and then getting shot out of a cannon, then tight turn, and so on. Many crashed were epic looking with flipping though the water at over 60mph. Anyhow, one time I had a big crash and smacked my head against the water and blew out one ear drum and hurt the other. This incident probably did nothing 'good' for my ears. Lake water on the other side of your ear drum I learned is very bad... as in bacteria, Etc.

Ive been on motorcycles for 37+ years, If you currently ride without ear plugs, I HIGHLY SUGGEST that you start. Don't find out to late that riding with out ear plugs might be hurting your ears.

***NOTE*** For about 20 years I have bought ear plugs from Wal-Mart. White box and green foam plugs. A box of twenty sets I think is $2-3.
 

Cycledude

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Met some friends at a motorcycle show years ago, it was a pretty noisy indoor environment, well one of the wives kept talking to me but I was having a very hard time understanding her, a few months later I ran into her somewhere else and told her about my problems understanding her at the motorcycle show, she told me it’s very common for many men to have a harder time hearing women. Next time I went to the doctor he confirmed what the lady had told me.
Rarely use ear protection when riding motorcycles but do high prefer to wear it when running chainsaws or one of my loud tractors, also prefer it when using my lawnmower.
 
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HeliMark

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Flying without any hearing protection, and most of the planes were not wired for headsets anyway when I was young. The first number of years at work, the sirens were on the roof of the car, back to airplanes and helicopters, although with hearing protection, it still is a noisy environment. Add tinnitus on top of it. Right ear is worse than the left, and if we are talking in a noisy area, I am most likely only hearing about 2/3's of the words.

I wear hearing protection all the time on the bike, and even when I am mowing the lawn. Trying to save what I have.
 

Mak10

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It’s easy to think people with hearing loss are stuck up. It’s not that at all. They probably didn’t hear you. So if I don’t respond or just nod my head- I probably didn’t hear you. My lovely wife knows this and is a good interpreter.

I always wear ear protection when possible. I have custom molded plugs, as well as electric muffs that amplify normal sounds but cut off loud noise. These work well, especially for shooting. Allows you to talk to people but have protection.
 

ballisticexchris

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I have been lucky. While I have some high frequency hearing loss, it's not that bad. My grandfather taught me to wear hearing protection as a child. It saved me in the military. Most guys did not wear hearing protection when operating heavy equipment. I was one of the few that did. And also working with huge generators in the 90's.

But like anyone who has worked around machinery we all get some loss no matter how well we protect our hearing. The problem I have now is I am unable to tolerate foam or any push in style plugs for more than an hour or two. I now wear the Mac silicone

Also I found when wearing foam and doing travel over 4 or 5 mountain passes in a single shot on the saddle my equilibrium is really messed up.
 

tubebender

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I lost hearing in my right ear when I was in high school. PE swimming class; repeated dives in 12 ft pool. Diagnosis was pressure pinched off the blood flow to the nerves. It could have been both ears. It took some time to come to terms with that.
Doctors told me I should avoid load environments. Well, I was into cars and bikes so that wasn't going to happen, but I haven't surfed since then.
Some years later I read about the cochlear implant. IIRC, It was developed by a doctor at UCLA, where I had gone to be diagnosed in the first place. I called up UCLA and actually talked to the doctor. He was a bit surprised, but answered my questions and explained that it would not work for me.
I wasn't too good at using hearing protection at first. Did some minor off road racing on bikes and in cars and trucks for awhile. Then 12 years as a mechanic in professional racing. I did learn to use hearing protection then.
You start to develop habits to deal with it. I tell people I am deaf, say "sorry, could you repeat that please" a lot, always sit at tables where people were to my left, or maneuvered myself to the right in some way. If there is loud ambient noise, it is difficult to hear human speech.
I had gotten married during this time - to a women who is deaf in her right ear! Makes for interesting conversations at times (and plausible denials!).
Later on, when I went to work in a gas turbine factory, I was hearing tested once or twice a year. On the preliminary questionnaire, I would write down 'Deaf in right ear'. And in never failed that at the end of the test the technician would say "Do you know you have a hearing problem?".
I wear protection all the time now, working in my shop or riding. In fact, if I forget my earplug (I only need 1, so they last twice as long!) after my helmet is on, I'll stop and put it in. I'm so used to how things sound with an earplug that I think the normal bike noises are something wrong.
 

cyclemike4

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I was born with hearing loss. The only thing is when you always have heard in the same manner you don't know you have hearing loss. I guess my parents never picked up on it and i had a terrible time learning to read because i was not hearing the words right or the letters. I got put in a special reading class where they taught phonics. Talk about messing a kid up that doesn't hear right and doesn't know it! I actually learned to read by myself on motorcycle magazines. they were the best education i had all through school. Fast forward years later. My youngest boy was born and i could tell something was not right with him. Took him to visit the hearing specialist and they said he is hearing the first part and the last part of every word wrong and the middle correct. All of a sudden it hit me that is exactly the way i hear. I hear words that rhyme with the word that is said. I usually seem cold to people who don't know me but if i am alone and someone talks to me i have to process every sentence with a dictionary of words that would rhyme with what was said to get what was originally said to me. It takes a bit of time to process such a numerous amount of words. So i seem very slow with conversation because i am. My daughter would laugh at me and the boy trying to talk to each other. It had to be hilarious considering neither of us heard well. She would laugh and then interpret for us. haha. I got very good at conversation by reading lips so this mask thing had me scrambling. I also can understand subjects i know well in conversation. Familiarity i guess. On a side note we got the boy hearing aids. Here in KY anyway there is a loophole that lets the insurance company deny paying for hearing aids for kids. Just when they are needed the very worst during the learning years. the boys aids were 3000 dollars each. After a couple of them were lost it was not a good thing to say the least. Anyway the boy is grown and we have both adapted to the deficiency well i suppose. I can't hear at all in noisy places or is some one talks fast. I tell them i can't hear as fast as you talk. haha. I do work in noise and i do wear ear plugs and do the best i can. the family and friends still laugh at the questions on the rhymes i hear instead of what was said. Oh i just noticed my hearing muffs on my dog in my member picture. We were fixing the frame on the boys Toyota that weekend and it was too noisy for him too! haha. Protect your eyes ears and hands and enjoy the rides! Oh i always wondered why people texted so much. After i started using a cell phone and was getting texts i could understand the conversation because it was not heard it was read. Hey great i know what the heck they are talking about! I like texting!
 

Don in Lodi

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Back when you could hear, ever listen to the sounds at a beach? That shushing hiss of a retreating wave over the sand, that's my tinnitus. Lower frequency, can't understand the guys talking across the shop unless I'm closer. 30 years of air tool use, avid shooter from a young age, maybe 40% with protection. PIA when camping. Have a box fan on at night for the white noise.
 

cyclemike4

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I have grown up around guns and still love to shoot any type of gun. A couple of years ago the family were all out shooting and my cousin had some of those battery operated ear muffs that you can hear to talk then when the gun shoots it suppresses the noise. My boy was using my hearing protection so I was told to use the electronic one. I put them on and for the first time in my life I could hear. I have never heard voices so clean and so many small sounds. I have tried my boys hearing aids and they didn't help me at all. I am not sure what those ear muffs did to enhance my hearing but I could wear those all the time!
 

Sierra1

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When I went into the Navy as a Sonar Tech, my hearing test showed excellent scores: -25 to -5. Upon discharge, six years later, my numbers were up to 0 to 10. Lower is better. About five years ago, I got a hearing test, and custom ear plugs. The doc said I had very good hearing. My response was "for an old man". He said no. Apparently, I've had very little degeneration in my ears. Which I thought was odd, considering the amount of time that I've spent on bikes. . . . without hearing protection. And, now when I ride, I use my Sena to listen to music. I guess it isn't as bad as listening to the white noise of the ocean.

Ears are good, but the eyes are getting old. Odd.
 

Ladlesport

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I have been working in an industrial setting for much of my older adult life (22 years at the same company now), before that I was a club DJ for a few years and still consider myself a bass junky when it comes to how I want my boots to match my pants... (yes, I am a House music junky)
Say it with me now...
Boots and Pants and Boots and Pants and Boots and Pants and Boots and Pants and Boots and Pants and Boots and Pants and Boots and Pants

Anyhoo...

For the 22 years I've had annual employer hearing tests, I wear custom molded hearing protection everyday at work (former machine operator now technical advisor), in the shop at home or when on the diesel tractor cutting grass or clearing snow. I have custom molded plugs with speakers in them (that plug right in to the Sena) when I am out on my bike to listen to music or chat with my wife while we are out on the bikes.

Hearing test results are much like @Sierra1 "You have the hearing of a 20 year old..."

(please protect what you have got if you are not already doing so...)
 

PhilPhilippines

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Like many, I've been heavily into music since my teens.

Punk, funk clubs in the late 70s were loud, but UK reggae sound systems were even louder - they copied the Jamaican sound systems/mobile disco format ie, 40 KT88 valve amps cranking out 20,000 watts.

As the years moved on it became a contest as to how much "weight" (bass) the sound had. Some, like Jah Shaka, King Tubbys and Jah Observer went the more rounded off valve route, whilst others - most notably Saxon - went with power. I think only Jah Observer is a valve sound system these days.

I still attend and DJ dances/blues/shubeens in the Philippines and cannot be too far away from the air being moved and my body being jellied. It's an addiction that has cost me some of my hearingI'm sure, but I haven't had an assessment as to how much...

I would strongly recommend chess or tiddlywinks for ear protection - although body armour is mandatory in tiddlywinks these days.
 

Dirt_Dad

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I've had tinnitus ringing in my left ear for as long as I can remember. Once took a hearing test and the tech stopped it in the middle to tell me he was playing the tone so loud in the left ear I was hearing and reporting it in the right ear. Huge notch gone from the left side. Cannot hear crickets with my left.

It's frustrating to know I have no one to blame but myself. Classic case of youth is wasted on the young. Too many headphones, too many rock concerts, too many gun shots. My hearing loss is 100% my own fault.

I'm very protective of what I have left. Custom molded ear plugs at concerts, on air planes (even jets), and anyplace the sound could be too high. Of course, always on the bikes. Can't afford any more loss.
 

AusTexS10

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When I went into the Navy as a Sonar Tech, my hearing test showed excellent scores: -25 to -5. Upon discharge, six years later, my numbers were up to 0 to 10. Lower is better. About five years ago, I got a hearing test, and custom ear plugs. The doc said I had very good hearing. My response was "for an old man". He said no. Apparently, I've had very little degeneration in my ears. Which I thought was odd, considering the amount of time that I've spent on bikes. . . . without hearing protection. And, now when I ride, I use my Sena to listen to music. I guess it isn't as bad as listening to the white noise of the ocean.

Ears are good, but the eyes are getting old. Odd.
Yep, hearing definitely would have been critical for a Sonar Tech, at least before all the electronic gadgetry came along. I was an ET and only had to listen to orders, and they weren't always clear, lol. I've definitely gotten some hearing losses over the years from a myriad of causes and need to get tested (last test probably 20 years ago) again someday. Meanwhile, I need to protect what's left and have been using some plugs called Ear Peace that come with 3 different "baffles" to pick the amount of protection they offer. They help a lot with the bike noise, but I worry about what I'm missing in terms of traffic clues so I spend perhaps an inordinate amount of time perusing my mirrors. Anyone have suggestions as to protective ear plugs they've found and can recommend? I'm all ears (NOT).
 

Mak10

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I wish I could blame mine on loud noise. Unfortunately the audiologist when testing said my loss is just certain frequencies. Noise loss would be more broad. Thanks Dad.
 
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