“It’s a new dawn, it’s a new day, it’s a new life for me.”
Nina is a Freshman at Morse High School and when she sings those popular Nina Simone lyrics at the Morse MoHiBa talent show next month, they will have new meaning for her.
Until a year ago, Nina had never heard her own footsteps before.
“When I first had my hearing aids in I was on the sidewalk and I could hear myself walking,” she said. “I’ve never been able to hear my own footsteps before.”
Ever since she was young, her family knew she had a moderate hearing loss in a certain high frequency range, but she’d always been able to compensate for it.
Her mother Lorna recalled how she always seemed to have a hard time hearing when she would be in a large group, busy places or loud settings.
“But she always adapted well.”
Over the years, compensating got harder and harder and it became tiring and increasingly stressful for Nina as she strained to hear and make out what people were saying.
Her parents brought her to Pine Tree Society for a hearing assessment and the Audiology Department worked with Nina to select hearing aids that were the right fit for her needs.
“It’s a relief,” said Nina. “I used to get really bad headaches after all day at school trying to listen and understand what people were saying and my ears used to ring constantly. I kept coming home and talking about what I couldn’t hear. I was talking really loudly and everyone would notice it. I finally decided that I should probably do something about it.”
Robin Galleher is the Director of Audiology for Pine Tree Society and she recalled how Nina thought ringing in her ears and headaches were normal. “She has hearing loss in just a couple of high frequencies but with the things she was saying I could tell it was really impacting her. I listened to what she needed to determine what we could do about it.”
Nina’s hearing aids have a Bluetooth capability that syncs to her iPhone and are easy for her to manage. Nina tried the hearing aids for a week and when the week was done she told Robin “I don’t want to give them back.”
“I love the fact that we can do demos so people get an idea of what it will be like,” Robin continued. “Nina embraced everything she was hearing. She takes it as it’s coming and it’s all in a positive direction.”
Nina’s mother Lorna has also been very happy with the positive changes. “Pine Tree Society’s testing was very thorough which was very helpful to us. When she has her hearing aids in, she doesn’t talk as loud and we notice she’s not trying to overcompensate. She just seems happier. And she’s taking it very seriously. She takes very good care of her hearing aids and keeps track of when the batteries are running out. Her sense of responsibility with them is really impressive. She’s taken this on herself and it’s not an afterthought.”
Nina agrees. “I’m not an organized person. I always forget things but I rarely forget my hearing aids. I feel like it’s a change for me. It’s a great experience. When I don’t have my hearing aids in it feels like I have a pillow over my ears. Everything sounds fuzzy. With them in, everything is sharp and easy to hear.”
Nina loves to sing and, with the Bluetooth capability of her hearing aids, she can stream the song she’s practicing directly from her iPhone to her hearing aids.
“Imagine if every time you wanted to listen to music you had to take your hearing aids out to put your ear buds in,” said Robin.
The Bluetooth capability of hearing aids has been a game changer. People of all ages are embracing the technology and hearing better as a result.
For Robin, “The fact that new hearing aids can pair with a person’s phone and other devices has definitely been a boon. I’ve had several kids recently who have embraced the technology. A grandfather who was a flip-phoner also embraced the technology and went into the 21st Century in the matter of a week. He thought it was amazing.”
Nina couldn’t agree more. “It really helps. It’s a much clearer definition. And when I’m at rehearsal with a group it’s much easier to hear other people and follow the director and what’s going on.”
In the words of one of her favorite artists, Nina Simone: “This old world is a new world and a bold world for me.”
And Nina is feeling good, singing well and hearing well thanks to the Audiology Department at Pine Tree Society.