A Hearing Loss & Late Deafened Blog

Life Without Hearing Aids

In Assistive Listening Devices, Hearing aids on April 14, 2014 at 10:23 pm

by Chelle George

A few weeks ago my left hearing aid quit working. It’s four years old as of last January and the warranty ran out two years ago. According to my audiologist office, it’s going to cost at least $300 to fix it with a warning that it could be more. For this low income girl, that’s a lot so I made an appointment with my state vocational rehabilitation office. My goal, to send both hearing aids in, one for fixing and the other for conditioning.

People are telling me, “Get new ones!” I really don’t want to. I really like my bright red hearing aids, these hearing aids have a FM receiver built into them so I didn’t have to mess with sleeves/boots. My pretty red hearing aids are only 4 years old.

Then there’s an echo of audiologists saying, “They are only good for about 5 years anyway.” Really, why? “There’s big improvements in technology within that amount of time.” Is it really that big of a difference from what I have now? “Oh yeah, I never have clients say their old hearing aids were better. They always like the sound better with new hearing aids.”

In my experience going from analog hearing aids to digital was a HUGE deal. I will never look back at analog. Until that big of a change comes around again, I can’t see that there will be that big of a difference again. There might be nifty new programs but I have 4 different ones now and I don’t know what else I could possibly want except perfect hearing again.

And my hearing aids were $4,500. That’s a lot of money to shell out and it doesn’t feel like so long ago that I paid for these. I know people who have had their hearing aids for 10 years and they are still happy. I want these hearing aids longer than four freaking years. The longest I’ve had a pair of hearing aids was 6 years and those probably would have lasted longer except one got run over multiple times at the long row of drive style mailboxes. (Took a phone call in the car when cell phones weren’t compatible with hearing aids then forgot it was in my lap when I jumped out of my low to the ground car to check mail.)

That was in 2005 and the last time I had to go without working aids. I worked in a salon and I tried wearing the remaining hearing aid but it felt so lopsided it wasn’t that helpful. I spent around two months not talking while my blow-drying hair, spinning people in my chair to face me or learning to read lips in the mirror. My clients had to repeat often. It was awkward and forced me to be upfront with everyone about my hearing loss. We were all relieved when I got my new, first pair of digital hearing aids. After that, I had no problem telling people I couldn’t hear well.

This time I work in the state Deaf and Hard of Hearing Center which is the most accommodating environment I can possibly work in. I thought I’d be okay without hearing aids as I didn’t wear them all the time anyway but I find myself missing them. A lot. I work at different health fairs around the valley sharing resources the state offers for those who are Deaf or hard of hearing and it involves a lot of talking even if people are in denial about their hearing loss. I thought I’d get by with lip reading and my remaining hearing. Nope! It was tough because some people just can’t look at me while they talk and others don’t move their lips enough. Luckily our table display offers ALDs such as the PockeTalker, Mino and Duett for people to try out. I grabbed the PockeTalker and started using it. The chatting proceeded a lot smoother after that and it also got other people trying it out. Thank goodness for ALDs!

PockeTalker

PockeTalker

Then I went to my first meeting without hearing aids in a long time. I had an ache in my chest as I walked in. I knew I was going to miss my hearing aids here too. The meeting was at work and a FM listening system is available but this time they had a new system in place with fabulous neck loops…and I couldn’t use them. I was able to plug in my earbuds but it wasn’t the same. I survived the meeting missing some conversation all together and concentrating so much that two hours later I was tired. I wanted nothing more than a glass of wine and to go to bed after.

Comfort Contego

Comfort Contego

With my boyfriend’s ski patrol banquet dinner coming up at the end of the week I started to worry about not being able to hear. I talked to my boss, the hard of hearing specialist, about borrowing one of their FM systems to use so I could hear the speeches. I have my own personal FM system I used in the past for this event but it’s a one piece deal that won’t work without my hearing aids. She suggested the Comfort Contego with two pieces and let me borrow it for the duration of my hearing-aid-less-ness. At the banquet, we arrived early to set it up, using medical tape (less sticky) we taped it to the microphone. Viola! I could hear the speakers with my normal 50% word discrimination which was nice because my boyfriend received a couple of awards. The system cut in and out often and there is no treble/bass adjustment. I need more treble so it all had the same deep pitch. I don’t want to complain too much though. It helped, I got through the speeches and I felt connected to the event.

Patroller of the Year

Patroller of the Year award for my boyfriend.

Today I sat through another three hour health fair. This time I used the Contego unit instead of the PockeTalker. It was held in the gym which is usually horrible acoustics but they had acoustic panels on the wall cutting some of the reverberation, hooray! I was so happy to see them. Once again, it presented plenty of opportunity to talk about ALDs.

Acoustic panels

Acoustic panels

comfort contego and me

The last two weeks made me realize how much I depend on my hearing aids, how much I need them and how much they help. Having something programmed specifically to my hearing loss makes a big difference in my understanding speech. I wrongly thought I’d get by fine without them but now I want them back. Using a neck loop to headphones makes for even better hearing and I miss it.

Sigh. My appointment isn’t until the 28th of this month and that’s just to get things started. After that, it’s waiting for approval and if I get approval then sending my hearing aids off to get fixed. It’s a process. I’m going to be one very happy girl to get them back.

Between the Worlds

In advocating, Relationships on April 7, 2014 at 3:28 pm

by Chelle George

A few weeks ago, I watched the 2000 documentary Sound and Fury for the first time.  It starts out with a little girl, Heather, from a Deaf family who wants a cochlear implant (CI).  Through the filming it appears she was talked out of it and the family  moved to a Deaf community in Maryland.  Instead, her newborn cousin gets a CI.  Sound and Fury

Thirteen years later, here is Heather Artinian doing a presentation for TEDx.  She went ahead and got a CI 3 years later for reasons she discusses in her video (link at the end of the post).  She’s doesn’t regret it and in fact gets another one later on.

In the video, she talks about being on a bridge between the Deaf and hearing worlds.  She’s there to fill the gap between both worlds.  She’s not alone on that bridge, there are lots of us there but most of us are invisible.

Her presentation is easy to relate to even though she comes from a strictly Deaf world.  Many of us come from a strictly hearing world but we’re all on that bridge together.  There are things we too can do bridge that gap.

Take a look at her video and feel free to comment here.

The Heather World

While at the SWC Convention in July 2014…

In SWC convention on March 29, 2014 at 2:45 pm

Written by Erica Penn

Visit the farmers market!  Every Saturday, the Dane County Farmer’s Market meets in the Square near the Capitol Building for food, goodies and fun! Since the SayWhatClub Convention will be hosted in Madison, Wisconsin from Wednesday, July 16 through Sunday, July 20, 2014, come join your SayWhatClub friends, old and new, at the Farmer’s Market on Saturday morning July 19, 2014!

dane county farmers market

Dane County is rich in both rural and urban culture. In 1972, Mayor Bill Dyke recognized a need to unite the two cultures and provide a means for city dwellers to reap some of the county’s agricultural benefits.

Inspired by Europe’s open markets, Dyke called on the Dane County Extension Office and the Central Madison Committee of the Chamber of Commerce to help him replicate the European tradition. The three agencies joined forces to develop the Dane County Farmers’ Market.

However, county farmers were ahead of the game. Grocery store and mall parking lots, gas stations and heavy traffic corners were popular bartering grounds. The agencies hired Dane County farmer Jonathan Barry as the first Farmers’ Market manager. He formed a grower advisory committee to help give some direction to the newly formed Farmers’ Market.

The grounds surrounding the State Capitol are an ideal site to host the market. The magnificent landscape and stunning architecture serve as a spectacular backdrop to Dane County’s most celebrated event.

In the early years, farmers relied on the Chamber of Commerce and the other two agencies for financial support and advice. Every Saturday morning, the farmers paid a small fee to sell their goods.

On the first Saturday in 1972, eager buyers set out to the square with the hopes of loading their bags, wagons and cars with nature’s gifts, only to find just five farmers and their wares. But by 1973, farmers by the dozens parked overnight to secure the best spot on the Square. In 1974, Barry issued season passes for the stalls in an effort to organize the growing Farmers’ Market. The only rule then, and one still enforced today, is that products must be Wisconsin grown.

The Market has undergone tremendous change since 1972 due to the efforts of the seven individuals who have served as market managers. Today, vendors are members of an organized co-op with nine elected vendors who serve on the Board of Directors.

Additions to the Saturday morning market include 1) a Wednesday morning Market, held in the front of the County Courthouse on Martin Luther King Jr. Boulevard, 2) an Early Winter Market, held in the Monona Terrace Convention Center, and 3) a Late Winter Market, held in the Madison Senior Center. Both the Wednesday and Saturday Markets run from mid April to early November. Hours on Saturdays are from 6:00 a.m. to 2:00 p.m. and on Wednesdays from 8:30 a.m. until 2:00 p.m. See the When & Where page of this website for details: http://dcfm.org/.

Although the Market constantly undergoes change, those responsible keep in mind that the mission of the Dane County Farmers’ Market is primarily to unite the urban and the rural cultures. Whether you are young or old, the Market is an event like no other. The energy and enthusiasm that flows around the square from dawn until mid-afternoon confirm the Market’ success! Don’t miss out on this incredible foodie adventure with your SayWhatClub friends! Don’t delay – register today!

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