And what was the third thing that Matthew mentioned to me about hearing aids? Well, it was that the new wearer does not just need to take account of a new and strange way of hearing; they must also become acclimatised to actually wearing the hearing aids, to having them in their ears the whole time.
Matthew encouraged me to persist in wearing my new accessories; to start small with a couple of hours a day and to gradually work up until I could wear them all day. He explained the importance of acclimatisation and persistence; apparently a lot of people who get hearing aids either don’t wear them, because they find them uncomfortable and unfamiliar, or only wear them in limited circumstances when they really need to hear, and thus find them less helpful than they would otherwise, because they aren’t used to them.
So, off I went with my new toys. I wore them on the journey home, via a little foray into John Lewis to look at shoes, and it was all good. I carefully put them to bed in their custom case, making sure they were turned off, and over the next couple of weeks I diligently upped the time I wore them by an hour a day. And thus I discovered the other thing you have to get used to with hearing aids, namely, having something in your ears.
Did I mention that the ear buds in my hearing aids are teeny tiny? And of course, having teeny tiny things in your ears for an hour or so is no problem. Even a few hours is fine; whilst swimming I wear ear-plugs and have done for several hours at a time with no problem. But once my hearing aid time got over about six hours a day, I discovered that despite their tolerance, my ears really didn’t like having things in them for the majority of the day, and they reacted by trying to get me to take them out. The method they used for this was to itch.
And, my god, did they itch! After about seven hours of wearing the hearing aids, my ears would itch like they had a bad case of chicken pox. It’s impossible to scratch inside your ears with hearing aids in, or to properly do so just with a finger. I know you’re not supposed to put anything inside your ears (Don’t try this at home, kids!), but the itching was so bad that there were days when I’d remove my hearing aids, slink into the toilets with a Bic Biro and use the pointy bit of the cap to thoroughly scratch round inside my ear canals, moaning with relief. And then I’d go back to my desk and put the hearing aids back in, because I was a good patient. Yes, dear reader, I persisted.