In late October, Audicus spoke with Aaron “Garth” Simko, a musician who was trying to beat the high prices of hearing aids by organizing a fundraiser on Indiegogo. A few months later, and Aaron was successful in his journey in obtaining two new bone-anchored hearing aids (or BAHAs). We caught up with Aaron to see how he felt about his journey and his future with hearing aids.
Congrats on getting your new Bone-anchored Hearing Aids! Do you feel successful in your fundraising attempts and that it was the right move for you?
Thank you! Yeah definitely the right moves were made. I was expecting the fundraising and getting the second BAHA to take a lot longer. A lot of people really stepped in and helped me and the whole thing took almost three months on the dot.
I got enough money outside my Indiegogo online fund raiser from the Denver community and friends and family by middle November to buy my first BAHA. Then I tried to make the online fundraiser work out for the second BAHA and was only able to get another $1,200. While I was planning my next move, Melissa from Ear Community called me and said she would like to help and Ear Community was able to get the second BAHA donated.
I understand that you got your first hearing aid when you were 6 weeks old, then later on got operations to get the Bone-anchored Hearing Aid. There are many hearing aids out there: analog, digital, and then implantable ones like the BAHA or Cochlear Implant. Is there a reason why you chose the bone-anchored hearing aids?
I got my first bone-anchored hearing aid 12 years ago. The technology was super new and I think cochlear was the only company available. It was the best option for my bilateral conductive hearing loss. Without them, I hear very minimally. I can only hear really loud noises, where people can yell at me I can respond. I would say that without any hearing aid help, I have about 80% hearing loss.
So technology is developing and changing the landscape for hearing aids. What do you anticipate or wish for in the future of hearing aids?
Honestly the only discomfort I have is being in any form of physical activity. I often worry about sweating on the hearing aid, and knocking them off my head. I also pack a water-proof bag for my hearing aid cases just in case it rains. For improvements, I believe we can develop a surgery to fix my bilateral conductive hearing loss. But the usual challenge is people being able to afford it. Realistically I want hearing aids to become more durable and cost effective, other than that I’m just always excited to see what they come up with.
It’s remarkable that you have severe hearing loss and are a musician at the same time. How do you think your hearing loss affects you as a musician? Do you feel that you have more challenges than others?
Surprisingly, I have to say no. It was in high school when my friend got me into music and playing guitar. We liked Metallica so I used to listen to everything on loud. I would take out my hearing aids and crank up the headphones. Even when I got my first car, I had the stereo replaced with a super loud one. When playing music with other people and in school, I found a few extra hurdles but was able to work through them. For example, I would have a slightly harder time with distinguishing different instruments in a classical music assignment and when playing music with others I cannot pick up bass guitar very well at all as well as lower frequencies. Regardless I am able to work through these challenges and hopefully I will begin working on my first solo album soon.
You can follow Aaron’s journey as a musician on his Facebook page.