#328: Slowly Going Deaf? (RSTs Mk II: Getting More Tale)

RECORD STORE TALES Mk II: Getting More Tale
#328: Slowly Going Deaf?

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I’ve been listening to music for as long as I can remember.  I’ve been listening to rock music — and I’ve been told to turn it down — since I was 11 years old.  That’s 30 years ago.  Remember all those times your parents said, “Turn it down, or you’ll be deaf by the time you’re 40!”  Let’s see if that’s true.

I’m not the concert-goer that a lot of you are.  I’ve always had a thing about crowds, but I’ve definitely seen my share of loud shows: Black Sabbath & Motorhead, Helix and Deep Purple are not the kind of bands that turn it down.  In 1972 Deep Purple were declared by Guinness to be the world’s loudest band!  But I don’t enjoy the sheer earthquake noise levels you can get at a concert like that, so I’ve been using earplugs much of the time for almost 20 years.  I started wearing them shortly after seeing Kiss in ’96.  I find this cuts a lot of the noise, and renders the concert to a volume more akin to a loud home stereo.

Where I’m most guilty of playing it too loud is the car.  Sometimes I don’t realize just how loud it is in there until I start the car in the morning, having left the stereo on at full blast.  I seem to turn it up, turn it up, turn it up…and get used to it.  Like a frog in cold water that you begin to slowly heat to boil, I become accommodated to the volume of the rock.  So that would concern me, where hearing loss is concerned.

How much hearing have I lost?  I completed a hearing test at work a short while ago, and have received the results.  Using a 2009 baseline as the comparison, it looks like it’s barely changed at all!

Here’s how the exam worked.  A mobile hearing test truck pulls into the parking lot and we take the hearing tests six people at a time.  Each one of us enters a soundproof booth, which look like we’re sitting in the escape pods of a spaceship, especially after we don our special noise-cancelling headphones.  Unfortunately it’s not a perfect setup.  I and several others could hear the beeping of forklifts and tow motors in the yard, through the booth and headphones.  This doesn’t help when you’re supposed to push a little button at the sound of a beep in your ears.  The test took about five minutes to complete and the results came back about two weeks later.  And here they are.  I don’t know what half this stuff means, but I’m told I have no major loss.  Alright!

TEST

29 comments

  1. Well, I know my report wouldn’t come back clean, but it’s not from loud music. Frequent ear infections as a child has ruined some of my hearing, among other medical issues. Not enough to have aids, but it wrecks havoc on my auditory processing (being able to decode and understand what people are properly telling me orally). The phone can be hell for me if there is any background noise.

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    1. Bummer :( It’s one thing to lose your hearing due to your own lifestyle, ie: concerts, but another when you have no choice in the matter.

      Think aids are something you will one day be interested in? I mean nowadays you can hardly see them.

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      1. I would definitely invest in them if/when warranted. Right now my hearing is deemed fine enough without them. It’s the auditory processing that can’t be fixed by physical hearing aids as it’s a problem in my brain.

        http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Auditory_processing_disorder

        My step-dad is near deaf – heredity…his sis has it too and my step-grandfather had it. He’s got awesome hearing aids that connect to the TV via a bluetooth connector so he doesn’t have to blast up the volume. But, he is still very hard of hearing. K says he can tell when I am talking to my Step dad because I am near yelling into the phone.

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        1. Music saves my life..you would think not, but it’s like KMA, seriously – music is my lifeblood. Where spoken words occasionally fail, the music feeds my soul.

          I used to write down the lyrics of songs in a book when I was a teen – try to guess them, so I could sing along. Sometimes I got them, sometimes I would ask my sis who had very strong oral decoding and memory. I will have to write about this at some point (but make it fun, of course!).
          The one scenario that is particularly tough is having convos on the telephone. Face-to-face is much better.

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    2. Sarca I know what your talking about ! I got a tube put in my left year about 3 years ago and it was replaced again this past January! I got a ton of left ear infections in my 40s if ya can believe it!
      Hahaha…..

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  2. It never occurred to us to wear earplugs to concerts, ‘back in the day.’ The ringing in your ears the next day was just ‘part of the experience.’ I’ve seen over 200 bands by now, probably, and most I didn’t wear plugs.

    I’ve worn earplugs to concerts at least since 2005 or so, though. I always bring a pocketful, and you’d be amazed how many people see me putting mine in, look longingly at them, then smile hugely when I give them a pair of their own. I don’t even care if the cool kids think I don’t look ‘metal’ putting in earplugs at Gojira/Mastodon…

    And my own hearing? Generally fine. I don’t play my music as loud as some do, anymore. Never once have I had an issue with that. Except there is a pitch at which my children can scream, and when they hit that special frequency, my left ear just cuts out. So, um…

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    1. You have kids in the car a lot of the time, and there’s no way a sane person would want to expose kids to earthquake volume in an enclosed space…so you probably don’t experience the loud car music that I subject myself to.

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      1. Yeah with the kids in the car, the volume goes way down. Not just for their hearing, either. Our kids say the most amazing things, and I never want to miss a word of it. If the music drowns them out, I would totally miss whatever brilliance they say next.

        But if I’m in the car by myself? Haha. Well then, look out. There’ll be a crazy shaved-headed guy driving around town SCREAMING along with Bad Religion.

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  3. I’ve worn plugs at a few shows, mostly at small indoor venues, or when I know it’s going to be loud. I still remember seeing them on sale at a Foo Fighters show on their first ever tour and took them up on it.

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  4. After losing 90% of my hearing at the age of three (due to a high fever), I got used to going to a yearly hearing test. Sometimes I was even invited to participate as I made for a good “practice” kid for new audiologists who were training to use the equipment. (Made sense to me, even as a kid – “We know he had a severe hearing problem and we’ve charted it for years now. So let’s see how you do with him and see if you can spot the issues here.”)

    To get to the point, the graph shows what types of sounds you can hear at certain decibels. Not so much in the form of loudness, but if you can hear lower/higher tones in various types of audio distractions (why you get all the audio noise at certain points in the testing). Anything above the line there just below 20 on the graphs means you have normal hearing for different types of sounds. BTW, the further to the right you go on the graph, the higher the tone. For example, for me the graph would start around 30 for the lower tones, and then curve downward as it went across, meaning I could hear lower tones, but higher ones disappear.

    For years, I did just fine with no hearing in one hear and about 25% hearing in the other. Never wore an aid until I was in my mid-30s. On the flip side of that, I never learn sign and got hassled a lot in school because I was the “weird kid” who couldn’t hear and had a speech impediment. Times were tough as a kid, and I could tell you some horror stories about such times, but in all, it made me who I am – a decent writer and with a happy life, so I can’t complain. (One reason I don’t understand Paul Stanley’s attitude about his own deafness and issues with others growing up. I went through a similar experience, but I’m not bitter about my past like he lets on in his book. I found that very disappointing, as he feels he’s telling this positive story for kids to read, and yet it sounds like such sour grapes that he still hasn’t quite worked through.)

    Anyway, I was going along well and attending concerts up through the 1990s, but then began having attacks where my hearing get worse for days (strong tinnitus, garbling voices in a mix of what sounded like a loud lawnmower running), as well as making me physically sick. Turns out to be early signs of Meniere’s Disease. Then in 1995, I was on a camping trip with my wife and some friends and work up one morning completely deaf. Just everything – gone. Went to my doctor, who thought I was joking, until he ran a hearing test and suddenly he was all “Youuuuuuuu … gooooooooo … tooooo … Specialisttttt ….”

    Meniere’s had hit big. A run of steroids (which physically turned me into Charlie Brown) and a diet change helped bring it back a bit, but the attacks got worse and would leave me with violent vertigo spells that began laying me up for hours and even days. Finally, I decided to get a cochlear implant, which eliminated the attacks, but left me with no hearing at all unless I’m wearing the processor that attaches to the implant in my head. Otherwise, I’m deaf, and even with it, I can only hear certain things. Music has pretty much become a thing in the past for me now, as I just can’t hear the tones like I used to. Old songs will still hit me and I can “fill in the blanks” enough to follow along, but new songs are just a lot of noise to me.

    But then again, hey – at least I can have a conversation with someone face to face and hear my daughter, etc. etc. Does it suck that I lost what hearing I had? Sure, but at least I’ve got something, and (again) I can’t complain.

    Sorry to get so longwinded here, but I guess that’s the only side of the whole thing – because I can’t communicate as much via speech anymore, I pour out my thoughts on paper instead. Thanks for reading.

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    1. Wow, thanks for the excellent comment Dale. I had no idea. I’m sorry to hear that music is almost a thing of the past for you. On the other hand I’m glad you have such a positive attitude. My wife and I have certainly dealt with health problems (some of which I’m saving for blog posts) and we’ve discovered that a big part of a positive attitude is being able to talk about these things once in a while, and hopefully share a laugh or two.

      Much like yourself I often find that putting words on paper (or computer screen) as a form of expression can be a very fulfilling experience. Your comment reassures me that in life we can find the good things and turn it around.

      Liked by 1 person

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