You may have heard Melanie talking with Concept’s Owner and President, Taylor Parker, on WMT Radio last week. Melanie approached Taylor while visiting Concept’s Cedar Rapids clinic last month to tell him just how much her hearing aids have positively impacted her life. Here’s her story, as told to Concept staff.

Ten years ago, Melanie was beginning to have trouble understanding her colleagues and clients in day-to-day conversation. She had worked for the federal government for nearly 20 years by then, and was frustrated that the knowledge she had accumulated seemed to be dismissed by those she conversed with: she’d begun to read lips and read gestures, responding to those instead of to dialogue. She remembers hearing people say, “She doesn’t understand me,” when in reality, she just couldn’t hear them through the background noise.

Melanie was exhausted. She was upset. She knew she had hearing loss, but didn’t want to have to deal with the clunky amplifiers that her mother had so much trouble wearing.
One day, Melanie was expressing her frustrations to her husband. “Ron Gonder talks about Concept by Iowa Hearing Aid Centers all the time,” he said. “He’s a highly respected person in the community – why don’t you give them a call?”

And so, years after she began noticing her hearing decline, and with all her worries about being too young (she was in her 50s at the time) and embarrassed by being prescribed hearing aids, she visited the Cedar Rapids clinic and had her hearing screened.

“The staff was all so nice to me. They didn’t try to give me a hard sell on anything – they just told me about my own hearing loss. They explained that hearing loss takes place in the brain, and that had I come in any later, I may not have been able to help my loss, because my brain might no longer recognize certain sounds.

I was so encouraged to hear that I would be able to help myself that I asked to see a hearing aid – and I couldn’t believe how tiny it was! With the way I wear my hair, nobody would even know I was wearing hearing aids,” she said. “The day I was fitted with my hearing aids was a true red letter day for me. I was so much happier as I was again a part of conversations and not left out wondering what had been said. And the difference at work was even more significant.  My conversations were far more productive.”

In fact, she opted to not tell anyone she was wearing hearing aids – and her sister didn’t know, until Melanie went to change a battery during conversation one day – that she had them. This was two years after she had begun wearing them.

“I’m not sure why I didn’t tell anyone at the time, because the improvement was so significant to me. When I put them on for the first time, it was like I had been under water for years, and I just stepped out of it for the first time,” she explains. “I could hear everything! I could understand everyone! Now I put them in the moment I get out of bed and don’t take them out until I go back to it.”

Melanie religiously upgrades every three years, too. “The technology just continues to improve so much, and every time I get a new pair, I see the difference in what I’m able to hear and understand and how confident I am in group settings.”

Melanie encourages anyone with a loss to not wait too long to have your hearing checked. “Life is so much better when you can hear well,” she asserts. “Hearing aids just improve your quality of life so much. To be able to be a part of what is going on, to be engaged instead of isolated – it just changes your behavior. Hearing aids allow me to be the best version of myself.”