A Hearing Loss & Late Deafened Blog

An Exceptional Experience

In Uncategorized on October 22, 2014 at 2:58 pm

by Chelle George

Last week at work (the Deaf and Hard of Hearing Center) one of the employees retired. I didn’t get to know her well because she’s Deaf and my signing is weak but she was always super nice to me. She spoke as she signed and she signed a little slower when talking to me so messages and small conversation were exchanged over the year since I’ve been working there.

My favorite memory with her  is her coming into the office I work in with a speechreading flyer I made. This is the graphic I copied onto the flyer.

lipreading

She came in, called my name and I turned around to find the flyer up to her face, the teeth and the black part cut out of the middle of lips and her tongue waggling at me. I about died laughing and spent the rest of the day smiling. I think she had run all over the building showing off her little joke because I heard lots of laughter.

The day of her retirement party I was invited to join everyone in the gym which was decked out with round tables and table clothes and various kinds of cows (she collects cows) on top. Food lined tables on the side and lots of people were showing up, lots of Deaf people. With my plate of food in one hand and my punch in the other, I scanned the room to see where I might in. About 50 people were at various tables signing.  The gym seemed quiet for this kind of event but there was conversation everywhere with flying hands. I spotted a lone table across the way and sat down feeling awkward. A few others who are hearing (but fluent in sign) later joined me.

I sat there knowing I wouldn’t get much out of the ceremony. I attended a wedding in the hearing world the week before hearing precious little. English may as well have been a foreign language because even though I heard the voices, I couldn’t understand a thing being said.

 I’m used to being the odd one out, showing up to support people, not understanding much and this wasn’t any different except it was a different language. Since I had been gone for 10 days, I forgot about the retirement party and didn’t even think it would be all in ASL (American Sign Language) until I showed up and watched the crowd. Oh well, I liked this lady and I wanted to be a part of it even if it was just my body being there.

Just before director got up to start speaking, another co-worker came by and said she’d send an ASL interpreter over to my table to voice for me. Cool! Just before the speech started an interpreter sat down and started voicing for me…the only one there not fluent in sign. He started out facing forward watching the director so I had to lean into the table some to get better view of his lips and to catch all the voice I could but I didn’t care because I hadn’t expected accommodations at all. I’m enjoying the stories and laughing and feeling a part of it.

Then he turned to face me saying something like, “Oh good” and carries on voicing the speeches. Another interpreter had stepped up behind me to sign what was said being up front so that guy sitting with me could face me fully making it easier to read his lips and I could sit straight up now.

Within two minutes, I was completely overwhelmed with gratification and the generosity of my work place in making sure I understood and was part of the crowd. Why am I so surprised? This is the Sanderson Center and things like this happen all the time. My eyes welled up with tears but I choked them back while biting my lip. I don’t want to cry! If I started crying I wouldn’t hear/see the stories being shared and I didn’t want to freak the poor guy out who may think something was wrong when everything was so right.

I managed to keep the tears in check for the ceremony and by the time it was finished, it was time to go home. I collected my stuff and managed to escape the building without crying but I’m still felt overwhelmed. I drove all the way home thinking I had a handle on it but when I stepped into the kitchen I lost it when Ken asked me about my day. The tears poured down and I could barely speak. Ken thought I had a terrible day but I kept shaking my head no. Eventually the whole story came out and he understood.

I’m good at advocating when I think about it but sometimes I forget or don’t plan ahead so then I feel guilty asking or try to set things up at the last minute. Then I accept I’m not going to hear and maybe that’s not acceptable. It doesn’t mean I have to be demanding, I just have to think about things carefully and plan ahead. Most people are willing to help out. And I know this! But I forget.

At work the next day, the co-worker who I think set up the voicing for me, and I talked about it. She told me, “Come on, this is the Sanderson Center, of course you’ll be accommodated.” I know that but this one really took me by surprise and went straight to my heart. What a great place to work and I’m so honored to be among all the good people there.  Thank you Sanderson Center!

My Top Ten List

In Uncategorized on October 19, 2014 at 10:59 pm

By: Sara Lundquist

As I look at the calendar I start to get tense and look back at this past year and I marvel of all the changes that have been made. This upcoming weekend is the Tae Kwon Do tournament when I noticed the crowd was more hushed, I noticed I couldn’t hear a TV, or my kid’s voices.   I am not sure at this moment my hearing dropped or it was slowly dropping and it kind of hit me on this weekend. Either way it has been a learning curve with hearing aids, and accepting this new normal.

I look at this past year and I thought I would make a list of 10 things I have noticed and learned. I was able to get a hold of my audiogram from 1996 when I was 19 years old. I was in college and attending the University of Wisconsin and studying Communicative Disorders.   I had a conductive loss at a 30-35db loss. In all reality and what I know now I would have been wearing hearing aids back then.  I am now 37 and I have a mixed loss that ranges from a 60-90db loss. That is a big difference. Will it change from this point, I don’t know but if it does I know there will be frustrations but I feel I will be better equipped to handle it.

Top-Ten-list

  1. Always carry hearing aid batteries with you. I learned the hard way this last week. I decided to leave my bag out in the car after lunch and I was subbing in science. Well both hearing aid batteries went dead. I had about 3 hours of the day left to go with no break to run to the car. Thank God we were watching a movie very little talking and listening had to take place. It made me realize I need to learn to speech read more then ever which will be my number 2.
  2. I hear with my eyes as much as my ears. I need a big boost in speech reading. I can do a word here or there but I need a lot more practice. I lack in this area greatly. Although I have done a few experiments on my own while listening to someone I really do concentrate on their face. I will close my eyes at times and my comprehension really goes down. I need that visual; I need to see it as much as hear it.
  3. Hearing aids are not miracle aids. Yes I really rely highly on my hearing aids. I recently told a friend who is Deaf, I can’t sign proficiently, I can’t read lips for a full conversation. I rely on the hearing I have. I have become great friends with the phonak and starkey hearing aids I own. I don’t have perfect hearing with my hearing aids but they make up for a lot of lost ground.
  4. Ear molds are better then domes. This is an individual thing but wow a big difference for me. I was given domes then got moved to closed power domes in my hearing aids. They annoyed me and I could hear better with my finger in my ear with them. When I bought this up I was told it just took time to get used to. I then went to another audiologist and they told me my hearing loss was to great for the domes and that is why I was having the problem. I was told I needed the ear molds and I sure can tell a difference. What I learned from this, you know what you need. If it doesn’t work for you and you have a finger in your ear, it isn’t working. I will never use domes again. You can change doctors nothing is set in stone.
  5. You are not alone. Family and friends supported me and listened to me but I needed to find someone who understood me. I have found friends and the Say What Club. They understand hearing loss. They can laugh with you and help through the tough times. I urge anyone who is going through a trial to seek out a group that understands. As a fellow SWC friend says you need your tribe. You need the people who walk in the same shoes as you do. Seek them out!
  6. Car radios suck. Ok so I am blunt and to the point. Maybe this again is just me. I try explaining to my husband I can hear the music and the beat but I very seldom can make out the words. I can hear parts of words but it kind of sounds like a broken foreign language. I will keep the radio on I like music but the words nah can’t do it. But I have never been able to really listen to the music and get all the words so maybe this isn’t such a new thing.
  7. I have become to love the assistive listening devices I have. I was very stubborn at first I didn’t want to try these. I felt that I was not profoundly deaf or hard of hearing so I didn’t need these. I was wrong. I use the streamer on my TV a lot. It blocks out everything but the show or movie we are watching. It makes a big difference. I still use the captions but I seem to be more engaged in a movie if I use it. Otherwise I seem to lose focus and I am off doing something else. When we are watching a family movie I need to be involved and enjoy the time.
  8. Keep my family in the loop. My children know when I can hear them and when I can’t. If I say I can’t hear you they are really good at waiting till we are somewhere else and then ask me. My kids understand my hearing aids. My husband will hook up and ask if I want the streamer on the TV or for the music we are listening to. They support me and that makes such a big difference.
  9. Sign language- I know some but I need to learn more. When we are in a situation and I can’t hear my kids I would love to be able to use more sign. Today in church I used sign to my son and we understood each other. I hope another class will be offered soon in my area.
  10. Pimping and blinging my hearing aids have become an obsession. Heck if I can go and see all these fun glasses at the eye doctor why do hearing aids have to be beige or dark brown in my case. I can decorate them and maybe no one will see them but I know they are there and sassy.

So here is my list of 10 things I have learned this past year. I wonder what my list will look like in another year.

Continuing Adventures with New Hearing Aids

In Hearing aids on September 23, 2014 at 5:04 pm

by Chelle George

(Continued from these posts: New Hearing Aid Molds & Managing New Hearing Aids)

Out of all the years I’ve worn hearing aids, this is the first time I wasn’t over joyed with new hearing aids.  The ear domes didn’t work, the new molds didn’t fit and kept working their way out of my ear so I kept shoving them back in which made my left ear sore.  If I held my molds in place, I heard a lot better.  As soon as I let go, things started to sound tinny again.

I went to present to a senior center for work and their meeting was held in the worst possible acoustics ever, high ceilings, shiny floor, windows for walls and hard wood furniture all over.  Noise bounced all over so that even the other speakers weren’t using the microphone because of it.  I couldn’t understand the speakers and I wondered how the seniors in the audience were handling it.

I phased out and brought out my phone to see if my hearing aid app could help with the reverberation.  I focused my hearing aids forward (zoom in) which helped a little.  I was thrilled with that option.  Then about 20-30 minutes later, the app figured I had been in the zoom long enough and went back to the master program.  Ugh!  Shouldn’t I be the one to decide when to change it?  I put it back on zoom hoping it might be a temporary glitch but half way through my presentation the app changed me back to the master program again making it very hard to answer questions from the audience.  So no, that wasn’t a glitch.

A few days later, my boyfriend and I tried to hook up a transmitter and there were no instructions.  We had no idea how to hook it up to the TV!  After half an hour of frustration, we gave up.  Between that, the app glitch and the hearing aid molds not fitting I finally had a meltdown.  I took the hearing aids out and put them away.  I had no desire to wear them.  For the first time in 23 years of wearing hearing aids, I could understand why some people hate their hearing aids and lock them away in a drawer.

I’m not the typical hearing aid wearer though.  After I had a good cry my resolve returned.  I didn’t put my hearing in again, however, until  my next audiologist appt.  I let him know how unhappy I was and why.  All the gadgets and high tech’ness of the hearing aids felt like a tease.  He was on the phone right away, ordering me different, new hearing aid molds.  He suggested painting the current ear molds with fingernail polish in layers to thicken them up so they would stay in better. Right away I envisioned red ear molds. Here’s were I learned when molds don’t fit right, we lose bass in sound he said.   Yeah, that’s it!

I also had problems with harsh sounds but I knew this was a matter of programming and my audi is a great programmer.  Anything in the kitchen hurt and I wound up clenching my teeth then taking my hearing aids out so I could relax.  Another issue was walking to the store with my boyfriend, I could not understand him with the traffic noise.

My audiologist listened and then spent about half an hour reprogramming my hearing aids.  He ran a test called ‘live speech mapping’ (a similar program is called ‘real ear measure.’)  He put something around my ear and slid something through the hole in my mold into my ear.  My audiogram was up on his computer screen and he introduced a squibble of noise and lines bounced up and down on my chart.  He said those noises represent the sounds of speech.  When it was done, he made a few adjustments and ran the program again.  I think he did this three times in all.

Sounds were easier on my teeth and tolerable.  We stood outside his office with the traffic and tested the new program and I could understand him.  Whew, I started feeling a little better.  Before leaving his office, he advised me to leave the other technology alone until I could get a proper hold on my new hearing aids.  Unfortunately, I didn’t wear them all that much the following week either because I still had to push them back in often.  Maybe I should have painted them with 6 layers?

The next week I went back for my new hearing aid molds which have a kickstand kind of thing on them to help keep them in place.  Another major relief.  The only adjustments to my program this time was add a new program that zoomed my mics forward since my app won’t let me have it longer than 25 minutes.  At home I painted my ear molds red again because I like the color and they could still be a little tighter.

Then I added nail decals to jazz them up a little until I have time to paint them.

Then I added nail decals to jazz them up a little until I have time to paint them.

I’m careful to paint only the outside edges staying away from where the receivers go in and the hole inside the ear.  (Good thing I used to be a hairdresser!)  I don’t want plain hearing aids, I want something I can show off.

The hearing aids are more suited to me.  I use the bluetooth feature to listen to music often and I find myself picking up more words with the lyrics.  I tried using the phone with it but it was a major struggle.

Easy Tek

Easy Tek

My boyfriend and I broke out the transmitter again the other day  trying to hook it up, his way, and I had the devil of a time pairing my Easy Tek to  it.  I tried until the battery died and when I plugged it in to be charged I took the hearing aids out too.  (Maybe my audi has something there.)  The next day I finally paired it but still no sound so next time I’ll try hooking it up with an audio splitter.

Every time there’s apps to be updated on my phone I say a little prayer the Easy Tek app will be updated too.  No such luck yet.  Today on my way home from teaching a hearing loss class I was listening to music again and all of a sudden my Easy Tek turned off.  No clue why.  My hands were on the steering wheel and the device hanging over the top of the seat belt.  Let’s hope that’s a one time glitch because if it happens often I won’t have any use for it and it will go into a drawer.

I also wish it would remember my bass position each time I turned it on.  I up the bass because for all these years that’s how I heard music with my high frequency loss.  I’m used to bass and although the tighter molds help, I still want a little more when my music is on.

I think I hear too much outside noise too when on bluetooth.  My audi said he shut down all the outside noise but I know through my old Phonak hearing aids, that isn’t always possible to shut it off the outside world completely.  That’s another thing on my wish list for hearing aid manufacturers, to be able to shut the outside world entirely when all I want is my music or especially when I’m trying concentrate on the phone as well.  I want no outside interference because I need/want every shred of noise I can get at that point.

I also have more feedback than I’d like still.  When I hug on someone, the hearing aids sound off.  If I put my hands to my ear, they sing.  Sigh.

As my audi reminded me, no hearing aid is perfect and that’s true.  They all have their glitches and they are better than nothing.  Even after 23 years of hearing aid use I guess I still get my hopes up.  Hearing aids aren’t called hearing miracles for a reason.

That’s where my adventure stands right now.   I’m done bitching so maybe the more positive stuff will start coming out now.  Understanding more lyrics is a good thing.  Being able to hear the neighborhood kids run up and down the street screaming is a good thing.  Maybe.

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