Hearing Life November/December 2019 - 30

Inescapable Tinnitus

Tinnitus has long been an issue for me. First
was the sound of crickets from my days flying
helicopters in the 1960s. Second came the
music in 2002. I hear music from my youth
when my mind is idle. Third is the hum of
an engine, which began in 2015 after my
cochlear implant surgery.
I didn't tell anyone about the music for
several years, as I thought they might think
I was going crazy. But after some research, I
discovered that it's fairly common and is called
musical hallucinations-or musical tinnitus.
I've met only one other person who admits
to hearing music. He also was wearing two
hearing aids.

The next steps were relatively straightforward. My
hybrid implant was reprogrammed to act as a regular
implant. Of course, I had multiple visits with the
audiologists to experiment with different program
settings while my brain adjusted to new sounds. This
took place over more than a year.
So far, my implant experience has been amazing. I
now hear sounds I haven't heard in more than 30 years.
Things like ticking clocks, scratching, the squishing of
rubber-soled shoes and sounds at the end of words-
especially T's and D's-I'm hearing again.
The first thing I do each morning is put on my
processor. I'd be lost without it. My left ear is now
useful even though word recognition is only 53%. The
downside is that I'm now deaf in one ear and almost deaf
in the other, which becomes a challenge at night when
I go to bed. If I lived by myself, I'd need mechanical
assistance just like anyone else who's completely deaf-
things like strobe lights and bed shakers connected to fire
alarms, the telephone and doorbell.
Another downside is that I believe I'm treated
differently. I've noticed that I'm left out of some
conversations and on occasion, even stared at in public.
While hearing aids are much more common now than
they were in 1981 when I started wearing them, it's still
relatively uncommon to see a cochlear implant processor
on a person's head.

30

On Reflection

Disability compensation wasn't something I actively
pursued, as I was proud to have served my country.
In hindsight, I left a lot of money on the table by not
paying more attention to my eligibility for compensation
and VA services.
But the Vietnam War was very unpopular, and its
Veterans weren't treated like earlier Veterans. Initially,
we weren't even welcomed into the Veterans of
Foreign Wars (VFW) or the American Legion-two
organizations that could've helped ensure that earned
benefits were received.
Our treatment was unprecedented, unjustified and
unfair. Yet, like most of my fellow Vietnam Veterans, I
got on with my life. And I didn't let the label Vietnam
Vet-or my hearing disability-hold me back from being
a productive member of society.
Through it all, I learned that you have to make the
best of the cards you're dealt. And when it comes to
hearing loss, you need to be responsible for your own
health by seeking professional help when needed.
Needless to say, this chronology of events doesn't
include lost paperwork, unexplained delays and other
frustrations while working through the VA system.
But I'm lucky. The service officers at my local county
Veterans' service agency in Steuben County cared.
And they proved to be an excellent source of help in
navigating what can seem like a difficult, confusing
bureaucracy at the VA.

Gary B. Roush is a Vietnam War Veteran
retired from Corning Incorporated. He's a
long-time volunteer for the Vietnam Helicopter
Pilots Association (VHPA) where he's curated
thousands of historical documents. Considered
an expert on the use of helicopters and their crew
members in the Vietnam War, he was the historical advisor for
the award-winning documentary In the Shadow of the Blade,
which was independently produced by Arrowhead Films and
acquired by Discovery for broadcast on The Military Channel.
He lives in Painted Post, New York, is an HLAA member, and
continues to serve his community as a township councilman and
county legislator. Reach him at roush@vhpa.org.

* HEARING LIFE * NOVEMBER/DECEMBER 2019 * HEARINGLOSS.ORG


http://www.HEARINGLOSS.ORG

Hearing Life November/December 2019

Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of Hearing Life November/December 2019

A Note From Our Executive Director
Thoughts From Our Board Chair
Founder’s Corner
Supporting Our Veterans Through All Their Years: The HLAA Veterans Across America Virtual Chapter
Advocacy
Convention
Never Give Up: A Vietnam Veteran’s Hearing Journey
Walk4Hearing Update
Sue, Eleanor, Fred—And Facing Our Fears
Awards and Recognition
Acoustic Trauma and the Impact of Noise on Our Men and Women in Uniform
A Holiday Getaway to the Big Apple
Hearing Loops at Home
Hearing Life November/December 2019 - Cover1
Hearing Life November/December 2019 - Cover2
Hearing Life November/December 2019 - 3
Hearing Life November/December 2019 - 4
Hearing Life November/December 2019 - 5
Hearing Life November/December 2019 - 6
Hearing Life November/December 2019 - A Note From Our Executive Director
Hearing Life November/December 2019 - 8
Hearing Life November/December 2019 - 9
Hearing Life November/December 2019 - Thoughts From Our Board Chair
Hearing Life November/December 2019 - Founder’s Corner
Hearing Life November/December 2019 - 12
Hearing Life November/December 2019 - Supporting Our Veterans Through All Their Years: The HLAA Veterans Across America Virtual Chapter
Hearing Life November/December 2019 - 14
Hearing Life November/December 2019 - 15
Hearing Life November/December 2019 - 16
Hearing Life November/December 2019 - 17
Hearing Life November/December 2019 - 18
Hearing Life November/December 2019 - Advocacy
Hearing Life November/December 2019 - 20
Hearing Life November/December 2019 - Convention
Hearing Life November/December 2019 - 22
Hearing Life November/December 2019 - 23
Hearing Life November/December 2019 - 24
Hearing Life November/December 2019 - 25
Hearing Life November/December 2019 - Never Give Up: A Vietnam Veteran’s Hearing Journey
Hearing Life November/December 2019 - 27
Hearing Life November/December 2019 - 28
Hearing Life November/December 2019 - 29
Hearing Life November/December 2019 - 30
Hearing Life November/December 2019 - Walk4Hearing Update
Hearing Life November/December 2019 - 32
Hearing Life November/December 2019 - Sue, Eleanor, Fred—And Facing Our Fears
Hearing Life November/December 2019 - 34
Hearing Life November/December 2019 - 35
Hearing Life November/December 2019 - 36
Hearing Life November/December 2019 - Awards and Recognition
Hearing Life November/December 2019 - 38
Hearing Life November/December 2019 - Acoustic Trauma and the Impact of Noise on Our Men and Women in Uniform
Hearing Life November/December 2019 - 40
Hearing Life November/December 2019 - A Holiday Getaway to the Big Apple
Hearing Life November/December 2019 - 42
Hearing Life November/December 2019 - Hearing Loops at Home
Hearing Life November/December 2019 - 44
Hearing Life November/December 2019 - 45
Hearing Life November/December 2019 - 46
Hearing Life November/December 2019 - Cover3
Hearing Life November/December 2019 - Cover4
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