Hearing Review publisher and president Roy Felts, talks about why he took so long to accept hearing aids.

By Roy Felts

I’m hearing impaired. I’ve been so for over 30 years. What got me here: I’ve been a drummer for 40+ years—and that bout with peripheral vertigo requiring 6 months of vestibular rehab didn’t help either.

But like hell I’m going to get hearing aids! That would be a tell-tale sign of my advancing age—more so my own mortality.

But why?

People wear devices in their ears all the time—it’s widely accepted now to be sporting earbuds to listen to tunes and make phone calls. But I still worried that hearing aids were not nearly as widely accepted as, say, wearing glasses to correct the vision loss that comes with aging. Glasses make you look well-read or scholarly. But hearing aids: There’s a stigma of deaf and dumb—and old.

My wife has been on me. “Roy, you’re in the hearing industry! Look into hearing aids,” she says.

I could spare her from the TV cranked up so loud it shakes the house. Or save her having to repeat what someone just told me/us.

But, nah. Not yet. Maybe one day.

It’s all about public image versus payoff, right? How can I be the cool volleyball coach and musician if I wear hearing aids?

But then I’m stopped in my tracks when I think about all the socially awkward moments in loud restaurants or gyms that could have been avoided:

  • Looking at people’s mouths as they spoke, prompting them to check their teeth for a stray caraway seed.
  • Laughing at what I thought was a joke but would actually be someone telling me their significant other just tested positive for leukemia.
  • “Did you hear me, coach?” Umm, no.
  • “Can you repeat the specials tonight?”
  • “Hon, can you please take out the trash, like now? It’s the fifth time I’ve asked!” “Oh, I didn’t hear you before.” Okay, maybe that’s more selective listening.

The list goes on and on.

So what am I waiting for? What am I afraid of?

Again: aging and, more so, my own mortality.

It’s hard to come to that point in your life where you admit: “I’m not only the Hair Club president, I’m also a client.” But why?

My late uncle was a urologist who died of cancer of the urinary tract/urothelial carcinoma. Ironic, right? This was the very thing he diagnosed and treated for so many years, but he ignored the warning signs of it—denied it could ever happen to him.

Last year at AAA in St. Louis, I stepped off a curb and was THIS close to getting hit by a car. I didn’t hear it. It had no headlights.

I’ve been exposed to this wonderful and compassionate industry for 8+ years now. And I’ve learned: There’s NOTHING to be ashamed of when it comes to hearing loss and using hearing aids.

So, I finally bit the bullet and decided that hearing my friends tell me their problems or jokes, my players ask me a question, or “my wife TELL me” to take out the trash (ok, selective hearing might still be the bigger problem here) was more important than my fears about aging and mortality.

I’d like to thank the good folks at Phonak who so generously gave up their time for a hearing aid demo and fitting at AAA this year. It opened my eyes—and ears.

And now: It’s time to give these little suckers a whirl! I can’t wait! HR

Accept Hearing Aids

Roy Felts is the publisher and president of The Hearing Review and other fine periodicals. He lives vicariously through younger athletes and is a horrible but enthusiastic dancer. Felts is also a proud husband, father, and pet father.