A talk with Ron Robinson: I can hear … so why ever would you not?
Ron Robinson from Palmerston doesn't mince words when asked what the benefits of hearing aids are: ‘I can hear,’ he bluntly answers. For him, it’s about hearing people; and hearing what’s going on around him; and hearing and enjoying television without the family yelling, ’turn the volume down’.
Ron was fitted with hearing aids just 10 months ago, and now wears them 15 hours a day. He would have had them sooner but for the transposition of a couple of numbers. ‘I popped into the hearing caravan at the Gore Field Day last year, but somehow wrote down the wrong phone number,’ he says. So although initial results showed that he would benefit from further testing and advice, he couldn't be contacted.
‘I knew I had a problem,’ he says, ‘because I couldn't hear. My wife and I went to Singapore and Latvia where my son lives. I couldn't hear a damn thing at the airports and when we got to Latvia I couldn't hear a thing my kids were saying. What a waste to go all that way for all that time and not be able to hear. I was very grumpy. So I took myself down to the clinic to see Anne McElwain.’
Ron's hearing was damaged by long exposure to work-related industrial noise. For over 30 years he worked as an agricultural contractor driving heavy, noisy old machinery, and in his leisure time occasionally goes duck shooting. In a time before the importance of hearing protection was understood, this pretty much set him up for noise induced hearing loss. Gradually, he lost hearing in the upper frequencies and the ability to hear soft, high-pitched voices, or the radio or television without cranking the volume up.
Anne helped Ron navigate the process to access ACC funding, which covered most of the expenses and fitted him with Receiver-in-the-ear (RIC) aids. ‘I am more than happy with my hearing aids and Anne's help,’ Ron says. ‘Life is so much better and I can hear conversations. I got used to the aids very quickly and because I can hear, I always wear them now, except when I’m working with machinery. The family are delighted too; they also think I can hear better,’ Ron says.
‘I tell all my friends who don’t hear so well to go get hearing aids, and those who have stuffed them into drawers to get them out and wear them … why wouldn’t you … they give you back your hearing,’ he says.
And a magical thing about having his hearing restored, Ron says, is that he can hear the birds in the trees. ‘That's a big thing,’ he says, ‘I've never been able to hear birds before.’