Don Lombardo spent the majority of his professional life working in and around construction sites, chemical plants, and manufacturing facilities such as General Mills. When he wasn’t working closely with extremely loud machinery, he was clanking pipes and powering equipment during a prosperous career as a skilled plumber.
Needless to say, a lifetime of employment in a rugged work environment exposed Don to the undeniable truth of his trade: a persistent exposure to loud noises—despite wearing protective ear plugs or earmuffs—had significantly damaged his hearing.
“That’s what wore me out,” explains Don, a South Buffalo native. “You can protect your ears all you want, but sooner or later your hearing starts to go.”
But how does a person who experiences gradual hearing loss know that his or her hearing is starting to fail? For Don, the epiphany occurred in a casual car ride with his girlfriend.
“I was driving the car with my girlfriend in the passenger seat, and every time she talked to me, I had to keep turning my head to hear her,” Don recalls. “Turns out I couldn’t hear out of my right ear, so I had to turn around to hear with my left. ‘Watch the road!’ she kept telling me.”
Occurrences like these are quite common among men and women as they age—especially for those who, like Don, worked for many years in industries prone to extreme noises, such as the military, automotive, agriculture, and manufacturing industries. Sadly, many of these people put their pride before their hearing health and happiness, which can lead to even worse health problems down the road.
Take it from Don—ignoring the problem is not the best course of action. “I hear people all the time saying, ‘What? What? What?’ They can’t hear a thing. I tell ‘em you need to get your ears checked! They say, ‘No, I don’t need to,’ but that’s baloney!”
Fortunately, Don is the kind of guy who practices what he preaches. “My ears were shot. I couldn’t hear two or three words of every sentence, and if you miss one you miss the whole thing. I knew I needed to do something.”
That’s when Don decided to visit his local Beltone of WNY in Batavia, New York. “I just heard that Beltone had a good hearing machine,” Don explains. “I stopped in and Greg from Beltone jumped right to my attention. He explained how he would check my hearing, put a headset on me, and then I just told him what I could and couldn’t hear.”
The pleasant process and simple solution suited Don perfectly. “I wasn’t looking for anything in particular,” Don admits, “I was just given the best thing I needed. Greg hooked me up with a hearing aid that fine-tuned my left ear and supported my right ear, so now I hear perfectly. He got it right with the first setting. He and his crew are phenomenal.”
In the spirit of full transparency, Don acknowledges that the cost of high-quality hearing might not come cheap—but it is most definitely worth it. “I can’t believe what I was missing,” he says. “Birds chirping in the morning. Crickets at night. Conversations with my family. People cringe when they hear the price, but I tell ‘em you can’t worry about that! You are losing life!”
Don’s hearing health and happiness hasn’t just helped his personal life—it’s helped him in his professional life, even after retirement. “I teach a plumbing class at Monroe Community College, he explains. “Now I can hear the guys in the back and don’t have to walk halfway down the aisles and say, ‘Can you repeat that?’ It’s like I’m a new man.”
Some people attach a negative stigma to hearing loss and hearing aids—but Don’s having none of it. “I’m not ashamed. You can barely even see the tubes, anyway. And I can hear again! That’s all I need, no problem.”
Are you experiencing hearing loss? Is your loved one in need of a personalized hearing solution? At Beltone of WNY, we can help. To learn more, please visit beltonewny.com.