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“Huh?” My Cop Life with Hearing Loss

I’m a cop with a “disability.” Shortly after I was born, I suffered a reaction to medication that affected the nerves around my ears. I have significant hearing loss, and because of that, I have had my career opportunities limited. At 17 years old, I stood in a Marine Corp recruiting office with my parents blessing, ready to sign my life away. I was determined to make a career out of the Marines. I had my eyes set on boot camp in 2003 and I was specifically requesting a job that would get me into combat. There was nothing else in the world I wanted more. And then I went to MEPS and sat in an old booth with headphones so tight, if I didn’t have tinnitus, my ears would’ve been ringing from the pressure. I guess I missed a few beeps and they kicked me out. Attempts at waivers never quite panned out and eventually the recruiter told me the options were exhausted. I was crushed. My hearing loss was less profound then and I thought I heard everything just fine. I’d performed fine in school. I held conversations just fine. Plan B was community college.

Fast forward to 2016, and holy shit, I knew I was missing a ton. I’d spent years progressively saying “huh?” more and more. I noticed I was dialing up the TV and radio more and more. I was missing whispers on perimeters in the dark. I knew it was a problem. I was terrified to take steps to correct it. I was worried the stigma would end my career in law enforcement. I didn’t know any cops with them. I looked at prices for corrective surgery. I couldn’t afford the $30k per ear or the 6 month recovery. I looked at hearing aid prices. I couldn’t afford that either. My insurance barely touched them. Frankly, I was scared.

In 2017, I finally bit the bullet. I called an audiologist. I had not been to one since college. I tried to join the Army after a few years in college. Same result. That last audiogram was enough to keep me out. I was afraid to see the new results. I even found myself hoping that maybe I just had a blockage in my ear. Maybe it was a tumor or a big ball of wax. I wanted it to be something that could be fixed immediately. Turns out my ears were bad. It wasn’t a quick fix. Or was it? The audiologist told me what she charges and I walked out and never looked back. Then I found an opportunity that literally changed my life.

Did you know that Costco, in addition to being one of my favorite places to shop, has optometrists, pharmacists, and EVEN AUDIOLOGISTS on staff? I had visited the hearing center a few times and picked up brochures every time, but I was still nervous. I called and scheduled an appointment about two weeks out. I went in, got a FREE hearing test, and then the sweet audiologist let me put tester hearing aids in. Holy smokes, I almost cried. I could hear a watch ticking, I could hear my hair brush against my collar, I could hear the hand dryer in the bathroom two hundred feet away behind a closed door. AND IT WAS LOUD! She let me try a few, but I knew what I wanted. I had 4 copies of the brochure in my truck.

Today I wear a ReSound Hearing Aid on each ear. I was able to afford them through generous contributions to my HSA from my employer. It took a few days to get my pair ordered and in stock. But when they arrived, I walked out wearing them after a brief fitting and adjustment. They have replaceable batteries, last a few days, and Costco even sells the batteries cheap! I barely feel them anymore and find myself reaching up to double check they’re in. I’ve even accidentally gotten into a shower a time or two forgetting about them. You know what the coolest part is? They’re Bluetooth capable. I stream music, video games, podcasts, EVEN MY PHONE CALLS directly into my ears! All I do is answer the phone and keep the handset close by. It sits in a cradle in my car and people hear my just fine when I talk in a normal volume. They require minimal maintenance and I drop them in a small desktop dryer every night. I clean them briefly every morning.

Neither ReSound nor Costco paid for or requested I sing their praises. They probably won’t even read this post. I wrote it because they changed my life. They saved my life. I can hear my kid laugh at full volume. I hear birds in the morning. I can watch TV after the fiancé goes to bed without her wrapping a pillow around her ears. I can still take them out and turn them off and sit enjoying a quiet peace that those without hearing loss may never experience. I work every day now confident in my ability to hear my fellow officers. I can sit through trainings and learn from the instructor rather than reading the materials. I’ll say it again, ReSound hearing aids saved my career and forever changed my life.

If you are reading this and you think you may have hearing loss, I’m happy to answer any questions you may have about hearing aids. I’m by no means an expert, but I know what you’re going through. Don’t be afraid to pick up the phone and call a Costco hearing center. They’ll bend over backwards for you, and all you’ll pay for is the hearing aids and the batteries. They were wonderful.

I’m a cop who technically has a “disability,” but after accepting it, addressing it, and moving past it, I wish I’d done it a long time ago. Don’t waste time getting the full enjoyment out of life.

The picture attached are the ones I have. Mine are a slate gray. I swear they’re smaller than they look and I don’t feel them at all any more!

Resound Hearing Aids