Thursday, July 19, 2012

What to wear - and NOT wear - on the other side of 60

It would appear that I’ll soon have the entire ensemble of a genuine card-carrying old geezer.

In a couple of weeks I’ll be addressing a young lady who’ll smile, call me by name (likely the formal old person’s “Mr. Frischkorn” with “Jeff” also possible), and then escorted into a windowless room. There’s the nice young lady will stick something in my ear and attach it to an electronic sound amplifier.

Isn’t that a much more nicer term than “hearing aid?”

Okay, so my wife Bev has been pestering me for more years than I can count about the need to install an electronic sound amplification device into my left ear.

Up until now I really haven’t been listening. And not just because my overall hearing is some point downstream from the 50-percent mark.

Those “things” makes a person look old, and I suspect at least initially, makes one FEEL old, too.

And I feel that way already. I’m taking more medicinal tablets than I care to count, I’m going to undergo treatment in September for prostate cancer and my glasses are bifocals, for crying out loud.

Shoot, I’m even wearing suspenders. And I don’t give a thunder if I wear a striped tie with a patterned shirt or if that tie is tainted with splotches of aged mashed potato gravy or dried blood from when I nicked my neck during shaving.

Oh, and I wear boxer shorts instead of briefs. Take that, Michael Jordan.

Nope, and I am to the point where being required to use a cane while walking in civilization or a hiking staff when afield now comes second nature to me.

For that matter I now look for a handicapped parking spot just so I can raise the placard flag that was awarded to me by the Department of Motor Vehicles following the required recommendation of my family doctor.

But wearing a hook-behind-the-ear electronic sound amplification device? I don’t think so.

At least not until after a July 12 meeting with a hearing specialist. She put me through the ringer during a thoroughly rigorous 2 1/2-hour evaluation of my hearing and as it relates to balance.

Margie was - as always - kind, humorous and friendly. She also verbally poked, prodded and jabbed me on the need for an electronic sound amplification device.

These tools have come a long way, Margie said, from the days of clunky models that stuck out one’s ear further than those belonging to President Obama.

Thing is, she’s correct. So is Bev and our daughter, Rebecca. So is, for that matter, everyone else who has pestered me for these, oh, so many years.

Yes, my hearing is shot. I don’t know what a cricket sounds like nor can I hear the notes of a warbling song bird.

And it’s not entirely my fault. Blame the aging process for some of it, of course. And in my youth I should have worn better hearing protection on the skeet field.

However, lay the vast majority of the hearing loss to a bout with rubella, which used to be called “German measles.”

That infection happened more than 55 years ago when I was five or six. It destroyed my right ear’s ability to detect most ranges of sound, especially the higher ones.

Which means that the right ear cannot be salvaged. The left one can, though, and this is the ear that one of Margie’s accomplices will attempt to bring up to par.

So I will go through the hoops, sit and have a thing or two stuck into my ear. I guess I’ll also try out a few models, each of which will be of the variety that hangs in back of the ear.

It seems that with the type of hearing loss that I have an inside-the-ear electronic amplification device would offer more feedback than a heavy metal rock band’s sound system.

One of the uncomfortable parts in all this is that whatever I do choose to buy - and that step is not certain by any means - the money will have to come out of Bev’s and my own checking account.

The reason being is that almost no insurance plan - not even under ObamaCare - pays for electronic sound enhancement devices.

At anywhere from $1,200 to $2,000 that’s going to be a pretty serious blow to our collective wallet.

Unfair? You bet, but it is what it is.

However, I guess if it will bring me peace at home, help me to hear the soft rush of the wind or the gentle notes of a whip-poor-will then the expense may prove beneficial.

Besides, no one can say that I actually have to turn the (sigh) hearing aid on.

- Jeffrey L. Frischkorn
Twitter: @Fieldkorn

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