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Lynn Swainston wasn’t sure whether she needed a divorce lawyer or a parrot, but she knew something had to be done about her husband John’s hearing problems.
“To be honest, we were borderline for the divorce courts because we were bickering all the time. Every time I spoke to John, I had to repeat myself and after a while, it gets a bit wearing. You start wondering whether it’s because he can’t hear you, or because he has selective hearing.”
She jokes: “I once told him, ‘I am going to buy a parrot so it can sit on my shoulder and every time you say, ‘Pardon?’ or ‘What?’, or ‘Eh?’ the parrot can repeat what I’ve said."
“We can see the funny side of it now, but at the time, it wasn’t funny,” says Lynn, 67, who is a retired administrator.
After working with heavy machinery all his life, John, 66, a commercial truck driver, had severe hearing damage, but because it had deteriorated over a long period of time, he did not realize how much he was missing. “It crept up on me over the years,” he says.
When Lynn first suggested he might need hearing aids, he was having none of it.
“We have two friends with hearing aids which are quite bulky, and John said, ‘I am not walking around with those in my ears.'"
Lynn went to her local hearing clinic, Miracle-Ear, to seek advice for her husband. "They were absolutely brilliant." So she made an appointment and told John what she’d done. “I think he went because he wanted to prove to me that I was wrong.”
However, John admits he was relieved that Lynn pushed him to address his hearing issues. “It had to be sorted out if our marriage was going to last.”
The registered hearing instrument practitioner carried out a free and comprehensive hearing test, and after pinpointing every aspect of John’s hearing challenges, talked the couple through the different options available.
As soon as she showed John the type of hearing aid he might need, and popped one in his ear, Lynn recalls, “His face was an absolute treat.” John was won over immediately.
“The thing I didn’t want was one of those great big old fashioned hearing aids sticking out of my ears, but these new hearing aids are so small you don’t even know they are there.
“There was just so much difference, even before they were tuned in properly. I was really surprised. You don’t realize just how bad your hearing is until you try the aids.”
The hearing clinic is able to offer a wide selection of the latest digital hearing aids, and John was impressed that although there were more advanced and expensive models available, his hearing aid practitioner advised there was no point spending more than he needed.
When John and Lynn returned a week later to pick up his personalized aids, Lynn admits she did have one worry. “I was holding my breath thinking, ‘How long is he going to wear them?’ I thought it would take him a while to get used to them, that it might feel odd having something foreign in his ear.”
She needn’t have worried, as John says: “They are so comfortable you forget sometimes that you have them in.”
The couple is convinced that addressing John’s hearing issues has saved their marriage.
“It immediately turned things around," Lynn says. "As we were walking around town, there was traffic noise and lots of bangs and clangs, but whenever I spoke to John, he answered me instead of saying, ‘What did you say, what did you say?’ It was lovely.
“Making that appointment at the hearing clinic was the best thing we have ever done.”