Re: What the ear specialist told me...
I have lost most of the hearing in my right ear from a viral infection. I can still hear lower frequency tones, but not mids or highs. Apparently the virus killed the nerves, because my doc said a hearing aid won't help much and it isn't going to improve. (This happened a couple of years ago.) The hearing in my left ear is still pretty good, despite exposure to loud music for years. He did advise me to wear hearing protection, and I got a set of musician's earplugs. They allow me to hear the cymbals better than conventional foam or silicone plugs, but it's not entirely natural sounding. I still find myself playing without them sometimes because I like the natural sound better, but I try to wear them as often as I can.
It sucks to have the hearing loss. Even though I hear OK on my left side, it is often difficult to understand what people are saying, and I pretty much have to watch TV with the captioning on. I still enjoy music, but I know I no longer hear well enough to do serious mixing/EQ work.
Take care of your hearing as best as you can. It stinks to lose it.