Sometimes when I go to doctor’s offices or hospitals it happens that I have to take my hearing aids out. For example, when I see the Physical Therapist, I know I may want to take my hearing aids off when he massages my neck. I have a case in my purse that keeps them safe from water, oil, and dust. Occasionally the request to remove my hearing aids catches me off guard. Like yesterday.
I had to have an MRI. The technician took me to a small room, instructed me to undress and put on a gown. My personal belongings were to be placed into a locker. You can bring the key with you, she explained.
“What about my hearing aids and glasses?” I asked.
“Keep them on.”
This surprised me, since the MRI was going to be done on my neck. If I had been thinking clearly I would have realized. Ten minutes later she asked me to remove my glasses and hearing aids, and to place them on a counter. Loose. Out in the open. In a hallway.
This has happened before during out patient surgeries. “I’m just going to put them over here on the counter,” the nurse will say. Loose. Out in the open. Near water and chemicals.
“You do know they cost thousands of dollars?” I will ask, “and if you lose them or damage them with water or if someone accidentally scoops them up with a paper towel and throws them away, it will cost the hospital $6000.00 to replace them?”
This is almost always met with a gasp. They didn’t know.
My hearing aids are worth more than any of my things back in the locker. They are worth more than a pair of diamond earrings. You wouldn’t want your diamond earrings sitting out in the open, would you? Because someone might steal them. I am not sure if people steal hearing aids, but you can never be too careful. I would guess a desperate person might steal anything that could be sold at a pawn shop.
Hearing aids are even more valuable than the $6000.00 replacement cost I mentioned, because they represent weeks of painstaking programming. They may be irreplaceable. It is a known fact that one hearing aid may not sound as good as the next, even when they are the same brands and models. Hearing aids are like cars. Sometimes you get a lemon.
So it pains me to see medical staff treating a pair of hearing aids like a small Happy Meal toy.
“You can just put them right here on this counter before you go inside.”
I try to look at it from their point of view. A pair of hearing aids look like nothing more than shapeless little globs of plastic and rubber-in most cases colorless gray or beige. Mine are zebra striped, kidney shaped with pinkish blobs of rubberized ear mold material attached. Most people are shocked by the cost and don’t know about the weeks of programming. That’s why those of us who wear hearing aids must speak up. Medical staff won’t learn if we never say anything.
“You want me to put them here on this counter? Out in the open, in the hall like this? You do realize they would cost $6000.00 to replace?”