Been away awhile. No good excuses, or fantastic stories of Smelly Pirate Hookers, just didn't feel like writing. It happens. As should be expected, life continues to roll. This one is a story of caution.
At the ripe old age of 34, I was told I am a candidate for hearing aids. Joy! Well, not really joy, but there is good news (at the end of the post). Apparently years of Shooting, Rock & Roll, and a bit o' time working in loud plants can hurt your hearing. Especially if you don't wear hearing protection. Like most kids/teenagers, I was convinced I was bullet proof. As I grew older, I saw the error of my ways. More specifically I heard the error of my ways in the form of Tinnitus.
People hear Tinnitus differently, mine is an always present high pitched ring that sounds like feedback from a microphone, while others associate it with crickets, or even a low hum. There isn't a cure for it. It's always present. Most times I can tune it out, but night is the worst. I have to sleep with a fan or some other white noise to drown out the ring. In reality it sounds worse then it really is (no pun intended).
Now, the good news. I'm not a lost cause. I don't need the hearing aids just yet. As I age, and my hearing goes into the expected decline I most likely will need them all the time, but the loss I currently suffer mainly impacts speech with background noise. I can recognize that something has been said, but the words don't register (women's voices particularly - because of the frequency). One on one it doesn't have much impact, but in an area with background noise, I will probably have to request something be repeated, especially if I'm not looking at you.
So, what can you do to protect your hearing? Easy! wear hearing protection! When I shoot indoors I wear both plugs and muffs. I picked up a cool set of Peltor hearing muffs, that allow you to hear regularly, but cut out at higher decibel levels. If I go to a concert (rare, but it does happen on occasion), I picked up a set of in ear plugs. They are almost invisible, and allow you to hear regular conversation but block harmful noise. Next on my list is to replace the custom plugs I lost (should be $60 or so at the gun show). $60 custom molded plugs, and $100 Peltors are cheap when you consider the hearing aids I'm looking at run about $3000 an ear.