Signia's Everyday Heroes.
At 24, Mat Hench hasn't let hearing loss stop him from becoming a successful physical therapy assistant and filmmaker.
What were your first signs of hearing loss?
I always mentally understood that I had some degree of hearing loss my whole life. But I never experienced knowing that I had it. In school, my ear doctor exempted me from taking the school hearing test because he said I would fail it. I took it anyway, and the doctor was right – I failed. It was shocking, but I should have expected it.
It wasn’t until a year, year and a half ago that I said to myself, “You know what? I could be hearing better with hearing aids.” When I put them my in ear for the first time, I didn’t cry, but came close. It was fairly emotional. I didn’t know what I didn’t have until someone showed me.
What was your turning point or a-ha moment that led you to seek treatment?
There wasn’t so much an exact moment. Just the inconvenience when talking to people. After the second “what?” if I still didn’t get it, I would just laugh and hope it was the right reaction. I didn’t know what was said, but would just give a courtesy laugh.
In my job in physical therapy, it’s really crucial that I hear my patients – especially so I know I’m not hurting them.
What was it like being fitted for your Styletto Connect hearing aids?
When I first saw Styletto Connect, I thought, “Yeah, these things are sweet!” I like the different color options, but resonated with the Silver and Black option. It’s the real deal.
After I got them, I cut my hair so they’d be more visible. I want people to see these things! I love the aesthetics of the hearing aid. It pushes close to jewelry or wearable fashion, but they’re hearing aids. My first type of hearing aids were a neutral color to blend in with my hair. But with Styletto Connect, I like rocking them.
What’s your favorite feature?
I love love love taking calls on it with the microphone and streamer. Phone calls were difficult to hear over the phone. Styletto Connect makes phone calls a totally different experience. I can hear phone calls with both ears, hands-free. I feel like something from the future. I feel like Iron Man. As a YouTube creator, I love to pull videos up on my phone. No one has any clue I’m watching videos and getting audio in my ears. Everywhere I go, I don’t have to worry about taking headphones, since it’s built in. On a walk, I can just pull up some music.
On a different level – the rechargeability of it is amazing. That the case itself holds multiple days of charge is phenomenal. I like camping and without electricity I can just pack them up in the case – and not have to throw away batteries every week. Before Styletto Connect, there were times at work when the battery died, and I’d go the rest of the day without hearing aids.
No one else is doing what Signia is doing!
How have your hearing aids affected your everyday life?
There’s quite a difference from when I put them in and take them out. I have the ability to hear people talking to me. I can hear TV and movies. They make it dramatically more clear and easier to hear. I like the directional aspect of hearing aids and different settings. In a noisy setting, I can tune the background noise out. Instead of getting a whole room of conversation, I can hear the person I’m talking to.
Can you talk about personal relationships before hearing aids? Now that you have them?
One on one, I didn’t really struggle a terrible amount before, if everything was clear and loud enough. Now it’s easier, though, even in crowded places – at work or out to eat. In social situations, I can hear conversations. Before, when I was in a room with a bunch of people, I had trouble hearing. I’d have to put my hands behind my ears.
Specific examples of how hearing aids have helped?
When I was driving, while playing music and with my friends talking from the back, it was impossible to hear everything. But now I can use the myControl™ App to hear behind me. Immediately, it’s like woah! It cuts out so much of the extra noise coming from the front. I can actually hear my friends much better than they hear me.
Tell us about your audiologist. How has she helped you?
We go a long way back – I’ve been going to her for several years. When I was younger, I made a comment about not wanting hearing aids. Years later, they still had it on file that I didn’t want them, but I regret that now.
She did a great job explaining my hearing deficit, pointing out where my hearing loss is on the hearing scan compared to where normal hearing would be. She also explained how hearing aids help to bring my hearing to those normal levels. My audiologist has been very helpful, which is important – you need a professional to adjust the hearing aids to make sure they’re right for you.
Without an audiologist, I had no clue how bad my hearing actually was. I thought I heard like everyone else. People would think I’m not listening. Glad she was there to show functionally what I was hearing and what I wasn’t.
What would you say to other young people who might be afraid to get hearing aids?
At least try them out. A lot of places offer a free exam and free trial, so you can try them for a week. I had them in for 10 minutes, and was convinced of the huge difference they could make in my life. I went from thinking I was just gonna try out hearing aids, to wanting hearing aids right now! The trial doesn’t cost anything, so just give it a shot!
If We Treated Glasses Like Hearing Aids
In this humorous video, Mat breaks down the stigma about hearing aid use by showing that they are no different from eyeglasses. Can you relate to his experience?
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