Let me just state for the record that I’m a man’s man. I have bad habits and good ones. I have a strong love for life and enjoy living it to its fullest. Sometimes that means I ride my motorcycle without earplugs. Sometimes, it means I just can’t get away from the fresh feeling of a recently cleaned ear canal. There was nothing wrong with doing these things—until I met my wife. And then I learned what it really meant to be married to an audiologist. I’ll let you in on a few of the more important lessons:
Q-Tips are a no-no! The first time my new wife saw me in the bathroom “cleaning” my ears out with Q-tips she about freaked out on me. Okay, freaking out on me is a bit strong but she actually did slightly freak out. I got a stern talking-to. Growing up, I always put things in my ears to “clean them out.” Now, I hesitate when doing anything in my ears. Having a better understanding of how the ear drum works, I can see the potential for serious harm that can be caused by a small mistake. And, I didn’t understand that the wax in the ear wasn’t just there to help me torture my little sister when I threatened to touch her with it. It was actually there to keep things out and away from my eardrum!
Thank goodness I didn’t damage my eardrum cleaning my ear out with my Stormtrooper’s little hands when I was a kid!
Hearing protection at all times. I am now the guy with the mindful wife that has a bag of disposable earplugs to hand out to friends and ANYONE sitting within throwing distance at any sporting event. Especially if there is a child with no ear protection at loud events. It’s amazing how many parents will gladly take them and put them in their kids’ ears. We are still working on the adults. I love when people behind us start joking about our earplugs and her response is, “I’m sure I will be seeing you later in your life.” She has made me custom ear molds with different filters to allow me to ride my motorcycle and still communicate on my headset with other riders. I gladly wear them because I don’t want to be her next patient!
Regular checks. I realized that regular hearing checks should be done like any other checkup. I fought for nearly 5 years not wanting to “get my hearing checked.” “My hearing is perfectly fine!” I said. Then, one day the hearing in one of my ears kept getting worse as the day progressed. I started to freak out. My smart wife told me to swing by at lunch. Then she ran me through a series of tests and at the end of it, she cleaned my ears out. She had me in there and took every advantage to test my hearing. Guess what, my secret of still trying to clean my ears out was revealed. Now that I have
had my hearing tested I see why it’s an important checkup, just like any other health care preventative measure. It opens the right conversations of what should be done to avoid a preventable hearing loss. It wasn’t the stern talking-to when I got caught with a Q-tip in the ear. But it got my attention. I was there to learn and I did.
Dangerous daily activities. Some of my daily activities that I thought were fine are not as “fine” as I thought they were. With my joint adventure with my wife with a small business in the Audiology industry, I’m starting to see many posts on LinkedIn and Facebook about what a safe sound level is and how long before the volume can start causing problems and these motivated me to have more discussions with my wife. I knew the obvious trouble spots like concerts, road noise or motorcycle races and sports games of any kind, really. I thought, just loud places were thing to watch out for. I didn’t realize how many jobs can cause hearing loss and regular checks in those industries is very
important. My wife has also shared with me what hearing loss can affect my basic health. This was eye-opening to say the least!
Being able to enjoy my later years. My wife wants me to able to enjoy grandchildren (when that happens—MUCH later in life!), as well as friends and family when I get older. She would rather me not be a patient and be better educated on what I need to do NOW so I don’t need hearing aids later. But she will be my champion, always in my corner if I ever do need them. I do like her view of preventing the preventable, though. By being a little more diligent in my understanding of what hearing loss is and what it affects, I can understand the value of my hearing as I age.
My personal Audiologist. She isn’t trying to be a “kill-joy,” but more of a guardian angel when she’s giving me all of these insights. My wife, Audiologist, and best friend has a vested interest in helping me understand the long-term effects of the choices I make now and to help me avoid the simple mistakes that many make when it comes to hearing loss prevention. She wants me to enjoy my life at all stages. My friends are also starting to come around, as well. We are all trying to be more active in preventing our own hearing loss. But I will never stop saying “what?” when she asks me a question I don’t want to answer. Nope! That never gets old.
If you don’t have an Audiologist, GET ONE and stop using “anything smaller than your elbow” to clean your ear. Elbow? Who thought of an elbow, anyway? Get yourself an Audiologist. I’m glad I did.