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Hamers and Hanging It Up


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Completely different take on it for me.  I want to keep going but may not be able to.  I have one band that is getting more popular, playing bigger gigs, and making more money than any band I've ever been in and one that plays just a few times a year.  These are two of the funnest bands I've ever been in from a personal standpoint.

Like many of us, I have had hearing problems for a while.  Mine were due to genetics as much if not more than my music listening and playing; lots of hearing problems on my dad's side of the family.  I got hearing aids 2 years ago and they REALLY helped.  I wish I had done it sooner.  Because the genetic writing was on the wall, I've also worn earplugs for about 20 years at gigs and concerts (but usually not practice).

A few months ago I woke up and the hearing in my right ear almost completely gone.  When my hearing aids turn on, there is a doorbell-like chime that lets you know they're working.  That morning that "doorbell" sound in my right ear was not the round, full sound with a decay like a real doorbell but more like someone clanking two pieces of steel together.  I held the right hearing aid up to my left ear and it sounded fine, and then the left hearing aid up to my right ear and it too was the clank sound.

I went to my GP and he said my right eardrum looked a little perforated and it should heal up in a 2-4 weeks.  Nope.  Off to a specialist.  He said if it was perforated before, it looked perfectly fine then, but my hearing test indicated "profound deafness" in my right ear.  His only suggestion was to inject cortisone behind my eardrum in case there was any infection back there.  That is exactly what it sounds like: he stuck a needle THROUGH my eardrum and shot in the cortisone behind it.  Over the next 2-3 weeks my hearing came back to at least 90% of what it was.  I can't even tell you how relieved I was.

That lasted about a month and a few weeks ago, over the course of 3 days, my right ear went almost completely deaf again.  Then my hearing came back for a week or two, and now it's gone again.  Some days it's better than others and there is intermittent ringing, whooshing, roaring, and whining sounds in my right ear.  When I CAN hear out of it, even with the hearing aid the overall sound is tinny and voices sounds robotic, kind of like everything is coming through a transistor radio.  The process of summation with my "good" ear makes my overall hearing sound OK, but not great.  It's really scary and discouraging to not know from day to day what the quality of my hearing will be or even if I can hear at all.

I WANT to keep playing, but keeping whatever's left of my hearing working the best it can for the remaining 20 or 30 years of my life is much more important.  Then again I think if I'm going to lose it anyway I should enjoy playing for as long as I can, so I'm really agonizing over whether I should keep going.  I liken to a scenario like a smoker finding out they have terminal cancer, and then choosing to smoke the rest of the time they have left because they enjoy it.  (I've heard that happens but I don't know if it's true.  I do know a guy who's had tons of lung and heart problems, just lost his mom to lung cancer, and had to go on disability himself who decided to keep smoking.)  I'd love to hear if anyone else has had an experience like mine and what you decided to do.  The thought of selling off all the gear I've painstakingly collected over 30+ years sickens me.

Edited by tommy p
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1 hour ago, tommy p said:

Completely different take on it for me.  I want to keep going but may not be able to.  I have one band that is getting more popular, playing bigger gigs, and making more money than any band I've ever been in and one that plays rarely.  These are two of the funnest bands I've ever been in from a personal standpoint.

Like many of us, I have had hearing problems for a while.  Mine were due to genetics as much if not more than my music listening and playing; lots of hearing problems on my dad's side of the family.  I got hearing aids 2 years ago and they REALLY helped.  I wish I had done it sooner.  Because the genetic writing was on the wall, I've also worn earplugs for about 20 years at gigs and concerts (but usually not practice).

A few months ago I woke up and the hearing in my right ear almost completely gone.  When my hearing aids turn on, there is a doorbell-like chime that lets you know they're working.  That morning that "doorbell" sound in my right ear was not the round, full sound with a decay like a real doorbell but more like someone clanking two pieces of steel together.  I held the right hearing aid up to my left ear and it sounded fine, and then the left hearing aid up to my right ear and it too was the clank sound.

I went to my GP and he said my right eardrum looked a little perforated and it should heal up in a 2-4 weeks.  Nope.  Off to a specialist.  He said if it was perforated before, it looked perfectly fine then, but my hearing test indicated "profound deafness" in my right ear.  His only suggestion was to inject cortisone behind my eardrum in case there was any infection back there.  That is exactly what it sounds like: he stuck a needle THROUGH my eardrum and shot in the cortisone behind it.  Over the next 2-3 weeks my hearing came back to at least 90% of what it was.  I can't even tell you how relieved I was.

That lasted about a month and a few weeks ago, over the course of 3 days, my right ear went almost completely deaf again.  Then my hearing came back for a week or two, and now it's gone again.  Some days it's better than others and there is intermittent ringing, whooshing, roaring, and whining sounds in my right ear.  It's really scary and discouraging to not know from day to day what the quality of my hearing will be or even if I can hear at all.

I WANT to keep playing, but keeping whatever's left of my hearing working the best it can for the remaining 20 or 30 years of my life is much more important.  I'm really agonizing over whether I should keep playing.  I'd love to hear if anyone else has had an experience like mine and what you decided to do.  The thought of selling off all the gear I've painstakingly collected over 30+ years sickens me.

Damn, that is tough news to read. I have some measurable loss in both ears that largely impacts certain frequencies rather hearing overall.  I definitely feel for anyone suffering total loss in either or both ears.

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Sorry to hear that.
My FIL has hearing damage from work and gets new aids every few years.  Latest ones were like $6k or so. 
His hearing gets progressively worse. He’s like 76 now, so he may be on his last set. 

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On 11/18/2023 at 1:54 PM, BillW said:

 Honestly though, (mostly) strumming cowboy chords for several hours gets old after awhile.  I still love playing electric! 

Me too. No acoustics or cowboy chords on my solo gigs.

 

BK 6-23.jpg

Edited by Brooks
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17 hours ago, Biz Prof said:

 I definitely feel for anyone suffering total loss in either or both ears.

 

Yeah. I know my hearing is beat up, yet I get annoyed w/ mumble mouthed coworkers and patients; SPEAK UP!! haha

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My hearing has long been a bit diminished- I suspect from years of gigging and rehearsing in relatively tiny spaces with 50 and 100W heads and 4 x 12 cabs. Mostly manifesting in the form of certain frequencies being hard to pick up and multiple sound sources often cancelling certain frequencies out.

But then the tinnitus arrived about 4 years ago. :(  I've grown used to it and it doesn't bother me much anymore.

Ear protection at shows and headphone monitoring of rehearsal mix is the norm now.

Thank goodness no hearing aids yet.

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55 minutes ago, diablo175 said:

Thank goodness no hearing aids yet.

I understand the feeling, but the new HA's are pretty awesome. The streaming for music and phone calls is handy as heck, and sounds really good too. Not to mention conversations don't leave me mentally exhausted form straining to hear anymore... I love mine.

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34 minutes ago, DaveH said:

I understand the feeling, but the new HA's are pretty awesome. The streaming for music and phone calls is handy as heck, and sounds really good too. Not to mention conversations don't leave me mentally exhausted form straining to hear anymore... I love mine.

Good to know but honestly, I wasn't knocking HA's- it's more vanity and fighting getting old. I was bummed when I had to start wearing glasses in my late 40's. HA's are, in my mind the next step in the aging process. :P

 

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3 hours ago, diablo175 said:

Good to know but honestly, I wasn't knocking HA's- it's more vanity and fighting getting old. I was bummed when I had to start wearing glasses in my late 40's. HA's are, in my mind the next step in the aging process. :P

 

Just a comment about hearing aids and the aging process...a VERY important reason to get hearing aids is that they help you keep the hearing you have left; they do not hasten the hearing loss.  After wearing them for a few weeks, you will notice you can hear better when don't have them in than you could before you got them. 

Hearing loss can also lead to mental fatigue and dementia.  I would suggest to anyone who even SUSPECTS they have some hearing loss to see an audiologist or ENT and get tested.  It is better to know the extent of loss you have and if you need to do something about it, do it sooner rather than later.  I don't understand the vanity thing because it seems to me that more people wear glasses than don't these days and there's no stigma to that.  I don't see hearing aids as any different.  It is rare for anyone to even notice I have them.

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On 11/19/2023 at 10:10 AM, scottcald said:

It’s funny, I’ve written songs, on my own and with others.  It’s good and satisfying, but the reality is few will hear those songs. Friends and family will say it’s nice even if they don’t care. 
There’s something about playing live for direct reaction from people. I’ve just had poor luck gathering people/joining a group. Going to give it a go again soon. Playing on my own doesn’t appeal that much, especially if it’s a background type of thing. 

An inability to find other players has left me to playing only a few minutes each week.  A couple of weeks ago I met a guy from a neighboring town to allow him to play a guitar I had for sale. He wasn't really a humbucker guy, so after he played I showed him how versatile the middle position was, working the volume and tone knobs. My sloppiness was embarrassing - like, more than it used to be. 😄

On 11/20/2023 at 10:23 AM, polara said:

As a duo, we can, if we want, gradually ease into being a retirement-home act: acoustic guitar and vocals doing boring atmospheric melancholy stuff. A lot of the older players here, some of whom I knew when we were all young punks trying to change the world, are into really esoteric stuff now: modular synths, theremins, sound samples, etc. You can still have the fun of being creative, but now you're performing in art spaces for people who sit quietly and dig the sounds.

Yeah, but you two are really, really good!  The more "esoteric" you get the more I seem to dig it.

If anyone hasn't found them on YouTube, definitely check them out!

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23 minutes ago, tommy p said:

Just a comment about hearing aids and the aging process...a VERY important reason to get hearing aids is that they help you keep the hearing you have left; they do not hasten the hearing loss.  After wearing them for a few weeks, you will notice you can hear better when don't have them in than you could before you got them. 

Hearing loss can also lead to mental fatigue and dementia.  I would suggest to anyone who even SUSPECTS they have some hearing loss to see an audiologist or ENT and get tested.  It is better to know the extent of loss you have and if you need to do something about it, do it sooner rather than later.  I don't understand the vanity thing because it seems to me that more people wear glasses than don't these days and there's no stigma to that.  I don't see hearing aids as any different.  It is rare for anyone to even notice I have them.

The vanity has less to do with what others might think and more to do with my preconceived notions (mostly that I don't wanna) about aging. That said, my hearing is still pretty good. I really can't wrap my head around the concept of getting a HA before I NEED one. Even if it's to preserve what hearing I still have left.

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20 hours ago, diablo175 said:

The vanity has less to do with what others might think and more to do with my preconceived notions (mostly that I don't wanna) about aging. That said, my hearing is still pretty good. I really can't wrap my head around the concept of getting a HA before I NEED one. Even if it's to preserve what hearing I still have left.

Gotcha.  Turned out I did NEED them.  When they did my test the guy said "I have one question: What took you so long to come in?"

Side note: the guy I saw happened to play guitar and grew up in Chicago so we had some good music/guitar conversations.  We were talking about what we played and of course it turns out he knew exactly who Hamer was and has an old Standard himself.  Pretty cool.  He had moved to Tampa at some point and played me some stuff that he had recorded on his Standard but it was all that growly deathy stuff.  I couldn't make out a single lyric or riff.  He was probably there when that style was becoming the thing to do in Florida.  That was pretty funny because he definitely didn't look the part; he was kind of a skinny, wiry-looking guy with slicked back hair.  He looked more like the missing link between Don Knotts and Steve Buscemi.

Edited by tommy p
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Whenever the thought of "being too old" for anything comes up, I think about how in ten years, I'll wish I could still do the things I did ten years ago. 

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Take care of your hearing. There’s more at stake than just being able to listen to music.  I’m convinced his refusal to get hearing aids contributed to my father’s descent into a mental oblivion.


 https://publichealth.jhu.edu/2023/new-study-links-hearing-loss-with-dementia-in-older-adults

Edited by BubbaVO
I’m a shit speller
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On 11/21/2023 at 8:32 PM, Sugartune said:

Whenever the thought of "being too old" for anything comes up, I think about how in ten years, I'll wish I could still do the things I did ten years ago. 

I could hit home runs in competitive men's softball until about three years ago.  Always a threat for decades. Now, I hit one or two a season.  And the guys tell stories to the new guys about how I used to crush the ball.  They talk about me in front of me like I'm not there.

This is such a good thread. 

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On 11/24/2023 at 9:43 PM, The Shark said:

I could hit home runs in competitive men's softball until about three years ago.  Always a threat for decades. Now, I hit one or two a season.  And the guys tell stories to the new guys about how I used to crush the ball.  They talk about me in front of me like I'm not there.

This is such a good thread. 

I’ve never really hit home runs playing softball but I could turn doubles into triples, singles in to doubles and outs in to singles.  Now I turn doubles into singles and singles into hammy pulls….😀

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4 hours ago, mathman said:

I’ve never really hit home runs playing softball but I could turn doubles into triples, singles in to doubles and outs in to singles.  Now I turn doubles into singles and singles into hammy pulls….😀

Yup.  I'm slowing down too.  But we play 50+ and I still wind up running every inning for some fat guy that's younger than me!

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1 hour ago, The Shark said:

Yup.  I'm slowing down too.  But we play 50+ and I still wind up running every inning for some fat guy that's younger than me!

A couple months ago, I went to dinner with a couple guys I used to play softball with on a store team.  One of them said, "Do you think you could even run to first base now?  I don't think I could."   The other, who's the guy I go to a ton of shows with, said, "I couldn't do it."  I said, "Uh, I run a lot further than that refereeing soccer, so I'm thinking probably..."

Not that I'm the paragon of conditioning, but I did do a lot more walking this year being laid off, and I noticed in one game for U12 girls, we'd just gone end to end a couple times and one team scored.  We lined up for the kickoff, and I realized I could hear a girl behind me huffing and puffing.  That's when I realized I wasn't.  I told my wife that story and said, "You know, I'm starting to think there might actually be some truth to that whole exercise thing."

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THIS is well past the point of hanging it up.

 

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4 hours ago, The Shark said:

Yup.  I'm slowing down too.  But we play 50+ and I still wind up running every inning for some fat guy that's younger than me!

I play on a school teacher league.  I am at least 20 years older than all of them.  There are a couple who I am nearly 3 times as old.  Surprisingly, playing does make me fell young still...

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