My first set of hearing aids was purchased in 2003. They weren't cheap, and my insurance company didn't help with the bill. But my credit card company was happy for the next six months it took me to pay off the hearing aid charges.
Why are these behind-the-ear devices that are so vital to Lipreading Mom's way of life a major financial headache?
For the record, a $5,000 fee for a set of digital hearing aids doesn't just include the contraptions worn behind the ears. A "bundling" of services are included with that price tag: annual or semiannual hearing tests, professional fittings with an audiologist, computer programming of the aids by an audiologist, and minor in-office hearing aid repairs.
Does that help explain the reason for paying thousands of dollars on digital gadgets small enough to fit in my 3-year-old Wonder Boy's pudgy hands?
I love being able to hear, despite the cost to do so. Hearing aids allow me a better listening life than having naked ears. I feel free as a bird or butterfly set in motion when I can hear my three kids laugh. Nothing is more soothing to my ears than to detect my Wonder Boy humming a ditty to himself while he fiddles with his Thomas trains. Or listening to the harmonies my 7-year-old Princess belts out as she practices made-up songs on her living room "stage."
When I take out my expensive behind-the-ear devices during a pleasantly noisy part of the day, I feel disoriented. Lost without those sweet sounds of my little ones singing. My listening world becomes silent, lonely confusion.
Which brings Lipreading Mom to her latest gripe: How can people afford hearing aids if they don't have insurance coverage or credit cards?
No magic fairy waves a wand over a silently suffering hard-of-hearing mom and grants her the wish of free hearing aids. No audiologist awards her patience with complimentary hearing devices. No legislator takes money out of his or her checking account and sends that mom a check to cover her audiologist bill.
How can a mom be free to hear her children's voices without the means to pay for her listening ability?
My gripe is not about myself but a close mom friend of mine (I'll call her Abby) who is unable to purchase hearing aids because she can't afford them. If she were suffering from a debilitating disease, some doctor or charity or good samaritan would come to her rescue and raise funds for her medical needs.
Not Abby. She strains to hear her son and two daughters share about their day at school. Abby worries about the demands of her job working with children speaking in hushed voices. She wonders how much longer she can seamlessly function in a world that is becoming softer to her comprised ears.
Abby needs hearing assistance to fully engage in this life.
Can you help me find a way for Abby to get hearing aids at reduced or no lost? Share your suggestions here.
Also... Please join me in my hearing loss awareness campaign, SHOW ME YOUR EARS, at http://LipreadingMom.com.
Ask Lipreading Mom
Shanna Groves was diagnosed with progressive hearing loss after the birth of her first child. She was 27. Raised in a hearing family, Shanna traces her hearing loss to a genetic loss on the paternal side of her family. She is mom to three young children, a published author, and speaker. Her books are featured at www.ShannaGroves.com. Shanna blogs about being a hard of hearing mom at http://LipreadingMom.com.