“What?” I watch as someone speaks to me. If I was better at reading lips this would be much easier but it was the first time I’d gone deaf and I was not well practiced at reading lips. The person tried again, and again. After the third attempt, and my total inability to comprehend her words, she looked at me with confusion and walked away. Unfortunately, I was a waiter at the time and that was a person at one of my tables. I had already struggled to interpret their order while I was at the table and I had serious doubts about how well I had done. I was not tipped well that evening.
The reason I was deaf was because of surfing. I have ninety nine percent bone closure in both ears from surfing through many winters in the north east. When I couple that with an inflammation of my ear or with any water blocking the very small space that leads to my ear drum, I lose most of my hearing.
Earplugs exist. This is true. I use them. Most suck.
I’ve had so many experiences where I bought the moldable circle blobs and molded them to my ear before surfing and twenty duck dives later they’re completely opened up and sliding off my ear. Then I just try to force them in, even though its horrible for you, and I still end up getting water in my ears because they fall out any way. At least that has been my experience.
Even the higher quality standard ear plugs on the market leave so much to be desired. I’ve tried a lot of them and they never quite fit right, they fall out too easily, they still let water in and they’re far more expensive than they are actually worth. There is of course the custom fit ones designed by specialist doctors in New York City, but those cost hundreds.
Towards the end of last summer I was playing with the idea of getting the surgery. The surgery, in case you are not familiar, is that a doctor slices the back of my ear, flaps it forward so that my skull is exposed, and then ever so carefully, drills through bone to reopen the hole in my head that has closed. Fun Fact: your body grows bone to close your ear canal when it is exposed to too much cold in order to protect your inner ear. The inner ear is where balanced is maintained and without it, you can’t even walk so, technically, even though it was a bummer I was deaf, it was because bodies are kickass. Anyway, I did not want to get that surgery. Who would? But I was so over going deaf.
Just then I was gifted a pair of SurfEars from a friend. It so happened that the waves were very fun on that day. I wore them, and after the first hour, I was amazed. I could hear everything perfectly and I was getting no water in my ears. Duck dive after duck dive I came up, and came up able to hear fine. The plugs stayed in place and did what they said. They let sound in and keep water out. I’ve been an advocate for them ever since. The only point of contention people ever give me is, “But they are expensive.” To which I say, “No they’re not.”
First, consider that they are made up of several small pieces that all are easily adjustable to fit your ear, but also stay intact in the ocean. Then think about that they allow you to surf real waves and still stay in your ear. You can rely on them. Then, finally, there is the fact that they allow you to hear while you’re both in water and on land. I can have a perfect conversation with someone in the ocean and when I return to land I can still hear. So simple but so important.
I’ve spent more continuously replacing subpar earplugs in a season than it costs for one pair of SurfEars, and they will last as long as you can take care of them. Finally, for anyone who doubts my point, consider that I no longer have to get “the surgery” anymore, because I wear SurfEars. That surgery costs thousands. I think a pair of SurfEars is like sixty bucks. That’s not expensive.
Written by John Anguilo