This is a letter of thanks. My mother is 95 and has been in denial about her hearing loss for many years. I finally got her to agree to an evaluation at your Newport News facility. Theresa asked Mom what she estimated her hearing at, and Mom replied "80%." Behind her, I shook my head in sadness and frustration; I knew she was much lower. Theresa is wonderful, and Mom worked well with her through the testing and after.
Mom made the decision to get hearing aids herself, after learning that she was only comprehending 22 to 25% of what she heard. She is not as aware of the change in her life as I am. She hears better, but she doesn't really notice or think about it — and that is as it should be. But I notice (and remember) many changes:
Before mom had hearing aids she was chronically exhausted. When I spoke to her I often had to repeat myself many times. It was hard. Each time, she became more tense, tightening her body, contorting her face and neck as she questioned "What" and "What?" and “WHAT!?" I could see her tire. Eventually she would give up and gaze away from me and not respond. I learned to return to the subject another time.
She knew she didn't hear some things, and she worried she was missing information; I would find notes she wrote reminding her to have me explain something to her. I knew that meant she had been worrying, and worry is tiring. I found her in bed a lot, "just tired."
She was often surprised by events I thought she was expecting because she had not really understood what I was saying, and that caused stressful confusion for both of us. She could not comprehend what her doctor said, or what the cashier at the store said; she would turn to me and shrug and I would interpret. Because of this, she did not like to go out and would come home very tired if we did. At home, if I spoke carefully and she was facing me, we did OK, but it was a struggle for both of us even though she had become accustomed to it. I hated it.
Hearing only 22 to 25% makes a big difference if I am asking her "Do you have rice?" as I plan dinner, and she hears "Do you have mice?" and gets upset. Even if we straighten the situation out and laugh about the mice/rice, she still can become confused after the fact and wonder if she has mice — or did I tell her she has mice? — and that mental confusion caused by her hearing loss was a big part of the chronic exhaustion she dealt with.
Mom still has hearing issues, but she comprehends SO much more now and seldom contorts or strains her body as she listens. She worries less, I seldom find notes now, and she is no longer so chronically exhausted — and neither am I. That last sentence is very important. I knew mom's hearing loss was having a significant effect on HER quality of life, but I hadn’t realized until now how big an effect the constant effort to help her was having on mine. Her hearing aids have allowed me to relax more and worry less. And that is a big relief and a wonderful surprise!
So thank you, Dr. Hecker, and special thanks to you, Teresa. The staff is gracious and helpful, but Mom comments many times on how charming and wonderful Teresa is, and I completely agree!