October 5, 2018. At a recent meeting, our guest speaker was Mike Smith, publisher of the County Line Courier, who shared his hearing loss story.
An avid guitarist, Mike followed the path of many musicians who have hearing loss after exposure to loud music. (Huey Lewis made this announcement earlier in the year: https://www.today.com/health/huey-lewis-announces-hearing-loss-cancels-2018-performances-t127072. A list of 12 musicians with hearing loss is discussed at https://www.healthyhearing.com/report/52318-Hear-this-12-celebrity-musicians-with-hearing-loss).
While we hear of rock stars from the 1960s now coming forward, classical musicians can suffer even more damage to their ears. Why? They tend to practice more often, and longer, so have more exposure! (See http://www.wbur.org/hereandnow/2018/04/30/musicians-hearing-loss)
Mike told us how he wished he had listened to his parents “when they kept telling me ‘If you keep playing that loud music, you’re going to go deaf!’ Who knew they were right?” Anyone who grew up in the 60s can relate!
My own father kept telling me “turn down that noise!” and if I didn’t, he’d shut off the stereo. Poor man didn’t understand that rock music HAD to be listened at full volume! These were the days before earbuds. Parents could keep some control.
But for Mike, these lessons learned came too late. He explained that he first realized he had a hearing loss while in his mid-30s. “I kept turning the TV louder, twice as loud as the rest of the family members did.”
To offset problems hearing music, he bought a new stereo. “I couldn’t hear voices on the one I had, and it was no different with the new stereo. I took it back to the store.”
Eventually he went for a hearing test. “I learned that the high end frequency of my hearing is missing”, meaning higher pitched sounds are no longer heard. It took 15 years, though, before he took the step of getting a hearing aid. One regret? “I don’t remember my parents’ funerals as I couldn’t hear the service. This was pre-hearing aid.”
Even with a hearing aid, Mike explained that he still faces challenges. “The office is hard to work in, as it’s a noisy environment. I can’t really hear the editor, who sits not far from me. Nor can I hear what is going on in the printing area, which is in a separate room. I have to go to them when I need to communicate.” Everyone present at the meeting could relate to that! “In business, people don’t understand”, he explained. “I have 6 grandchildren, and they don’t really understand why I can’t always hear what they are saying. Luckily, hearing loss hasn’t affected my ability to play guitar.”
Now Mike wants to warn young people about listening or playing music too loud. “At the age of 17, I thought I knew everything. I didn’t.” He isn’t alone. Today’s youth are at risk from sound going directly into the ear through earbuds, which sit closer to the ear drum. The louder music is played, the more damage can be caused. (See http://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/newfoundland-labrador/earbud-generation-hearing-loss-1.4658336
We appreciated Mike’s frankness in telling his story. Do you have a hearing loss story to share? Email us at firstname.lastname@example.org or comment on our blog. You can also follow us on Twitter: @HearPEI.
Don’t miss our upcoming events:
October Chapter meeting: Tuesday, October 30, 2018 at 9:30 am at North Tryon Presbyterian Church. Guest speaker will be audiologist Peter Benstead of PEI Audiology, to let us know about the firm’s public information campaign for hearing health. With hearing loops now being available at venues on PEI, Peter will also let you know how you can have a telecoil activated to your hearing aid.
We will be in Montague on October 27, 2018! We will have a table at the 7th Annual Learning and Caring for Ourselves Conference, an event hosted by the Seniors Secretariat of PEI on Saturday, October 27th, 9am-3pm at Montague Regional High School.
© Daria Valkenburg