PEACHTREE CITY, Ga. - Amy Beaucham loves the fly-by-the-seat-of-your-pants world of improvisational comedy.
The 61-year old is part of an improv group called the Nitwits, who meet Saturdays at the Newnan Community Theatre, working without a script or a safety net, playing entirely off each other.
"You have to listen," Beaucham says. "That is number one. If you're not listening, you're not going to be able to be the best partner for your other actors."
But 3 years ago, Beaucham began to realize she couldn't hear what people were saying.
She first noticed the problem at work, teaching gifted students at Peachtree City's Kedron Elementary.
"I would have to walk up to students at their desk and say, 'What was that?' which really interfered with my teaching," Beaucham says.
During improv practice, she was missing cues.
So, Beaucham decided she had to do something.
"I didn't want them to have to kindly ask me to bow out because I was making mistakes on stage," she says.
Beaucham got her hearing checked at Belltone Hearing Aid Center in Peachtree City, where Jared Babb, a licensed hearing instrument specialist, says he sees a lot of people who delay getting help for hearing loss,
"Most of our patients have waited, I think, the average is around 8 or 9 years before they do anything about it," Babb says.
Beaucham needed hearing aids in both ears. So, Babb recommended a hearing aid designed for iPhone users like her.
"You can adjust whenever you need to," she says. "You don't have to fool around with hearing aids and take them out."
Beaucham controls the volume, sound filters, everything with and app on her phone. She can even listen to audiobooks or music using her hearing aids.
And it's all discreet.
"Everybody's on their phone now," she says. "So nobody's going to know you're dealing with hearing aids when you're on your phone."
Now that she can hear more clearly, Beaucham says it's easier to keep up with the back and forth on stage.
"That's what improv is all about, listen and respond, listen and react," she says.
And it's nice, Beaucham says, to feel like she back in on the joke.
"I didn't know how much I was missing," she says. "That's the thing. You don't realize how much you're missing until you get this intervention."