A Hearing Loss & Late Deafened Blog

The Importance of Proper Fitting Ear Molds

In Hearing aids on January 27, 2015 at 9:09 am

by Chelle George-Wyatt

Who knew hearing aids could were so important? Most all of us have experienced old, cracked tubes which reduce hearing aid output and moisture in the tubes can play havoc with our hearing aids too. Other than that, I think we take our hearing aid molds for granted but lately I’ve learned bad fitting ear molds can make or break or a hearing aid’s potential.

Last August I received new hearing aids, Siemens Carats and I’ve posted some about my problems with them. One of the biggest problems was bad fitting ear molds made my Siemens. Right from the start my ear molds kept working out of my ear and I kept having to push them back in. Then I noticed if I pushed them in and held them in tightly, I heard differently…better. So I went back to my audiologist who ordered another pair and they didn’t fit well either so he suggested using fingernail polish to thicken it up a little. I applied 2 coats of red fingernail polish(my favorite color) and it helped some. I really liked having red mold since I couldn’t have red hearing aids. My new pair of ear molds came in with the same problem so I painted them too.

Other problems included a software update that crashed my t-coil program along with making all my programs sound the same. I continued to have feedback problems when going to hug people, which made me pull back. Who likes to hear squealing hearing aids? There were troubles with the bluetooth and not hearing right through that program. There’s a huge disappointment in the iPhone app for the EasyTek which at first seemed cool but ended up feeling more like a tease. (I hardly ever open that up anymore.)  Then my ears started getting sore on the inside from constantly pushing them back in so I let my audi know I just about hated these new hearing aids. This is my fifth pair of hearing aids and the only ones I haven’t had a ‘wow’ factor when getting new hearing aids. I couldn’t recommend them to anyone and didn’t feel like talking about them. I don’t like being a complainer so I quit writing about them too.

My audiologist listened to my complaints and offered to order me new hearing aid molds from another company. We agreed on the soft rubbery ones which I remember working with my Widex hearing aids 10 or so years ago when they had to crank up the power after a big drop in hearing. He knows I like red so he ordered me red hearing aid molds too.

Why they couldn't be all red I don't know but the white part doesn't show when I wear them.

Why they couldn’t be all red I don’t know but the white part doesn’t show when I wear them.

We switched out the hard plastic molds for the rubbery, soft, red molds a couple of weeks ago. There was a little of the stuffed up sound that I remembered with the old molds back when but it wasn’t as bad because there is a little vent hole. They felt comfortable right away and had a snug fit.

Now I have to back up a little. With my Phonak Naidas my best word discrimination score was 50%. With the Siemens I had 60% right away but with all the troubles I had, I couldn’t get excited. With the new, better fitting rubbery molds my word discrimination shot up to 72%. That’s a huge jump! I haven’t seen a 72% word discrimination score in years. Six months later I can finally see what my audi kept bragging about with these hearing aids. They have a lot of potential with a proper fitting ear mold.

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I felt so good about my hearing aids I decided to paint them finally.  It scrapes off easy so I can redesign at will.  I’m not used to painting on such slick surfaces either so I’m learning and will get better.

SWC San Antonio Convention May 13-16, 2015

In SWC convention on January 24, 2015 at 9:18 am

  by Chelle George-Wyatt

  Have I ever said how much I love attending hearing loss conventions?  Of course I have but it’s been a while and I’m starting to get excited for our upcoming convention in San Antonio, TX May 13-16, 2015.  It’s going to be held at the San Antonio River Walk Hotel – Holiday Inn.  Not only do I look forward to being with my friends both old and new which I consider to be my tribe but we are going to be downtown right on the historic river walk which inspired other river walks in other cities in North Carolina, Colorado in Monterrey, Mexico.  

  The river walk has about 5 miles of sidewalk to explore leading to places like the Alamo, the River Center Mall, Arneson River Theatre and Marriage Island where people get married (it’s good luck to get married on the islet).  The river walk also leads to places like HemisFair Park which was the 1968 site for the for the World Fair where one can find the Tower Life Building, a 750 foot observation tower  and restaurant.  (It was the tallest observation tower in the US until the Stratosphere was built in Vegas in 1996.)   Other places to explore along the walk is the San Antonio Museum of Art and Pearl Brewery which isn’t a brewery anymore but the property is considered the crown jewel of the river walk. There’s a small art community to visit called La Villita with art galleries, custom jewelery, pottery and imported Mexican folk art.

The river walk, sometimes referred to as Paseo del Rio, is lush and May will be the perfect time to visit with temperatures as high as 85 degrees with the lowest temperature at around 65 degrees. It’s one story below street level and lined with shops, restaurants and bars. Here’s some of the options available for attendees of the SayWhatClub convention.

  • San Antonio River Tour – (with accommodations) A boat tour of the river with a history of the area.
  • The Fork in the River tour – a 3 hour walking tour visiting 3 award winning chef’s restaurants with a history of eateries.
  • The Bar Walk- It starts in front of the Alamo and has a 3 hour evening tour of the historic bars.

I’m excited and if you are too, visit our website: http://www.saywhatclub.com and select conventions from the menu.  I’ll leave you with a few pictures Donna Penman took to get you thinking about our convention.

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New Hearing Aids on the Market

In Hearing aids on January 2, 2015 at 1:34 pm

by Chelle George

One of the cool things about working at the Deaf and Hard of Hearing Center is I get to try out new products. They have a great demo room with a lot of technology and I get to play with it along the way to familiarize myself with it. Another great thing about working there is I run across some great people too. A few months ago someone called our information number and left a message wanting to learn more about financial aid for those wanting hearing aids.

 I was forced to call him. Even with CaptionCall I am not comfortable on the phone because I’m never sure how good the captions will be and I often interrupt people when they are talking thinking they are done. During the awkward phone (the captions weren’t the best), I found out he works at a local hearing aid manufacturer. I didn’t know we had one in the city. He’s a marketing guy for ClearFlex, a new hearing aid being introduced through Harris hearing aids.  He knew people who needed financial help in obtaining hearing aids and I’m always willing to help however I can.  I gave him my email at the end of the phone call and shared our financial resources with him.

Through a number of emails, I learned more about their hearing aids. They don’t use a middle man (an audiologist) so their hearing aids go straight to the client. They come with a tablet so people can program their own hearing aids. There’s the typical beeping hearing test to take through the hearing aids from the tablet to form the basis of the hearing program. Or they can program an audiogram into it. Did I want to try it? You bet! Especially since about this time I was sick of my Siemens.

He sent me his website and I watched their video at  www.clearflex.com   which had no captions at the time. I could follow the speaker as long he faced the camera but as soon as he turned away I started to lose words so I emailed the marketing guy telling him captions would be good. His response was, “It’s on YouTube, they have automatic captions already.” It was hard not to laugh because only the hard of hearing know how bad YouTube captions are so I told him, “YouTube is notorious for bad captions, try it yourself.” If he wanted he could watch ‘Caption Fail’ videos on YouTube for fun. The next day he said, “You’re right. We’re going to work on that.” They have and it’s now properly captioned.

He came in a week or so later to let me take the hearing test right off the tablet and when I pulled out my own audiogram, it was pretty much right on. He had only domes for me to use with the receiver in the ear (RIC) aids and domes and I don’t get along we found out with the Siemens. The feedback was horrible so he took me into the adjustment part of the tablet to play with that and I did until the feedback was minimal. It was great to play with the programming. They have 5 categories to play with: volume, tinny sound, background, compression and feedback management. I smile at the “tinny sound” name. That’s something everyone who wears hearing aids can understand.

A co-worker came in while I was playing with it all and expressed interest in the product. She had just given back the Siemens she tried out (same hearing aid as mine) because they couldn’t make a good enough ear mold to control the feedback. She had work to do so I filled her in later.

I had questions. How long have they been making these hearing aids. About 4 months then, 6 months now. Do they have a warranty? Yes, a 3 year warranty. How expensive are they? Half of normal hearing aids because they don’t use the middle man so about $2200 for two hearing aids. Yes, they are worldwide and can sell all over. How does it work for people who aren’t technology inclined? They can program an audiogram into the hearing aids before shipping. They have people watch the video and the person will either say, “Yes, I can do that or no I can’t.” How many programs does it store? There’s currently 3 program memories. They come with a t-coil but a person needs to request it be turned on. Ear impressions? They would have to made at a clinic/ENT who would send them to ClearFlex. ClearFlex pays $75 for ear impressions/molds. The finished product is usually shipped in 2-3 weeks (sometimes less).

He went back to the office and wanted to see if he could let me and my co-worker have a trial run with the hearing aids. After that it took him forever to pin me down for a time to come back as I was off getting married and I needed to coordinate with my co-worker too. A few weeks ago we able to get together and this time he brought the CEO of the company in with him! How cool is that? This guy knows his hearing aids.   He told us about all the work he’s done prior to these hearing aids having worked within in the industry for years with an impressive background in the component parts themselves. He knew our current hearing aids by looking at the brand and model and right away he knew we had to have custom made molds to be able to hear with the ClearFlex. They brought only domes with them. (My co-worker has a severe hearing loss while I have a mild to profound sensorineural hearing loss.) We tried the hearing aids anyway, eager to play with the tablet. Unfortunately neither of us could hear well, as he predicted, so he made an appointment with us the following week to get ear impressions and have ear molds made.

This little experiment didn’t dampen our enthusiasm as we had so much troubles already with the Siemens we expect adjustments and special fittings. They showed up the following week, took the impressions and sometime after the holidays we will get to try them.

I see many advantages to these hearing aids and I can’t see audiologists happy about this product either. I’d love to be able to play with my own programming when needed instead of making an appointment with the audiologist and waiting. People with some computer know how would probably like being able to fiddle with their programs getting it to their liking. If they are new to hearing aids, they can sit and tweak for hours as long as they have patience for that and they can tweak them in all possible settings. Maybe less hearing aids would end up in drawers? We know how we like the world to sound and sometimes it’s hard to describe them to our audiologists.There are some advantages here. Maybe it excites me because I have some know how. The disadvantages I see is it could intimidate people who don’t like messing with technology. Some newbies to hearing aids might feel lost but I think the basic descriptions such as “tinny sound” might make it easy. They hope to get rid of the connecting wires from the aids to the tablet (only used for programming) soon with bluetooth in the hearing aids. That’s a drawback for people who don’t have the dexterity to plug the tiny wires in.It’s not for everyone, to each his own. One person might appreciate this kind of thing while another would rather let someone else deal with it for them. I’m excited to give it a go and I will write about it afterwards.

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