Years of Hearing Loss No Match for ARC Audiology
October 25, 2016
"I never paid much attention to my hearing loss," says Glen M. "I knew there were things that I couldn't hear anymore, but I figured that was part of getting older."
Glen, who is 58, says his hearing loss was gradual and started in the 1980's while he was a student at Texas A&M and was putting himself through school as a mechanic. "Unmuffled engines are loud and we didn't know to wear hearing protection," he says. At the time, he was also an "avid shooter" and was on a rifle team. "We wore ear plugs to shoot," he says, "but now they know that was not enough protection.
In 2003, Glen got married and moved to Austin to work as an engineer for AT&T. He quickly became a patient of ARC's family medicine doctor, Larry C. Kravitz.
"I love the guy," he says of Dr. Kravitz. "He listens and for me, listening is the biggest thing."
Since he started at AT&T, Glen has had trouble hearing his co-workers. "I couldn't hear well in meetings and even face-to-face. To me, they mumbled," he says.
To "fill in the gaps" of what Glen could not hear, he read lips. But in conversations with one particular coworker, even lip-reading did not help.
"She doesn't move her lips when she speaks. I told her she would be a great ventriloquist," Glen chuckles. "I was constantly asking her to speak up and to repeat herself."
In 2014, Glen saw ARC audiologist, Angel F. De La Cruz at ARC's Round Rock office. Dr. De La Cruz recommended hearing aids, but Glen put off making the decision. "Hearing aids are terrifically expensive," he explains.
Glen reconsidered in December 2015, when he and his wife hit their insurance deductible. "If I could get the hearing aids before the end of 2015, the insurance would kick in and knock the price down. That was the tipping point for me," Glen explains.
Glen was amazed at how quickly he was able to get appointments to see Dr. Del La Cruz and ARC's ear, nose, and throat specialist, Dr. Matthew M. Meigs.
"Toya, the office assistant, was great!" says Glen. "She worked with me to find little nooks and crannies in the schedule where I could sneak in and get things done."
Not three weeks after he made the decision, Glen walked out of the ARC office wearing his new hearing aids. Suddenly, the world was filled with sounds he hadn't heard in years.
"I could hear my pants," Glen says, "You know, the cuffs as they brushed against each other while I walked."
When he got to work, he ran into his "ventriloquist" co-worker. "She talked to me and I could hear her for the first time in 12 years!" he says. "It was nice."
At home, Glen was finally able to hear his wife when she spoke. "Since we got married, I had been asking her to speak up. I thought she mumbled," he says. Dr. Del la Cruz explained that Glen's hearing loss was right in the middle of his wife's pitch, making her voice particularly hard for him to hear.
His hearing aids have also enabled Glen to enjoy conversations with dinner companions at noisy restaurants. "My hearing aids are set so that if I am in a noisy situation, they can sense that there is one voice in front of me. They optimize to pick up that voice," he explains.
Glen describes his transition to wearing hearing aids as pretty easy. "Some sounds are annoying," he says. "Like my wife's canary. I used to think his song was pleasant to listen to, but now, with my hearing aids, his song can be ear-shattering sometimes."
Glen stopped shooting rifles years ago. His current fascination is clock-making and he is President of the Capital Area Clockmaker and Watchmaker Guild in Austin. His hearing aids allow him to hear the subtle whirrs and clicks that help him troubleshoot when he is fixing a clock. "I am grateful for that," he says. "Clock-making will be a source of income for me when I retire."
"Hearing aids changed my life!" Glen says. "I wish I had gotten them years ago."