A Hearing Loss & Late Deafened Blog

New Hearing Aid Molds

In Hearing aids on August 22, 2014 at 1:42 pm

By Chelle George

Yesterday I got my new hearing aid molds and the feedback problem is not nearly as bad.  That’s good news.  The new ones don’t itch and irritate my ears like the domes did which is also good news.  There is still some feedback while I insert them into my ears so my audiologist put in a 6 second delay to give me time to put them in without feedback.  Now they play a little ditty when the battery snaps shuts.  Ta-da-ta-tah!”  You are now hearing again.

New molds

New molds

There were some issues I had with the app which my audiologist tried very hard to help with.  My first problem is reconnecting to the app if I happen to walk too far away from phone.  He told me to turn off the whole phone and it should be easier to reconnect.  He demonstrated and it connected.  Later, while at home I walked too far away and had to reconnect.  The app kept telling me it couldn’t connect and I should go into demo mode.  The app doesn’t do me any good in demo mode.  Since we just turned my phone off and on an hour before, I hoped I wouldn’t have to do that every time I walked too far away.  I fiddled around some more and found out if I turned the Bluetooth device off and back on, it reconnected the first try.  Okay, I got that down now.

The next problem I needed help with was the spatial configuration (mic direction).  I could not figure out how to zoom my hearing aids forward and I could not get them to go right either which I think would be great while I’m driving to be able to hear my passenger better.  In my last pair of hearing aids, they focused forward in the car at the windshield making it very difficult to hear my passengers so my audiologist set a specific car program in them that kept all the mics opens.  So when I saw I could change the direction of my mics in the new hearing aids I was excited but then I couldn’t get it to work.    My audiologist fiddled around with it for a bit and even called the company about it.  It seems there are some glitches in the iPhone app and that’s one of them.  I sure hope they get the bugs worked out of it so I can try the right direction while driving someday.

I got something new to play with, a streaming device for my TV.  I haven’t been able to hook it up yet and even though I watch very little TV, I’m kind of excited.  The only time I watch TV consistently is during football season and that starts Sept 4th!  (Go Steelers!  Go Seahawks!) Normally I use captions when I watch TV or a movie but I take the captions off when watching football because they get the way of the game.  I have the noise turned up because I like the sound of the crowd but I do not understand much of the announcers say.   So I’ll have to set it up this week with a movie to be ready for the game.

As I got in my car at the audiologist office I thought, “I don’t have a radio in the car.  I should hook up Pandora because I can!”  My 80’s station popped up and “Another One Bites the Dust” came up.  Oh good song….  Good sound too.  It was closer to what I remember 30 years ago.  So I’m all happy in my car singing with Queen and thinking about the coming football season.

When I get home, there was a mad rush to get things together for an evening picnic with friends in the mountains (that’s when I walked too far from my phone again and lost my connection).  There was no real reason to keep my the Bluetooth device going at the picnic so I put it away but of course kept my hearing aids in. As we pulled in parking spaces were rapidly filling up because of a wedding at the reception building just beyond the picnic parking lot.  This happens a lot there and it can be kind of irritating but I think all of our group got in.

We greet the others there and I talk to a few people about my new hearing aids and then of course conversation drifts this way and that way and I’m following pretty good.  We have dinner and then sit around the fire pit.  Music suddenly fires up at the reception just beyond a patch of trees.  “Man, that’s loud,”  I keep thinking.  I keep looking at the others who keep chatting.  They seem unaffected.  I look a few picnic tables back wondering if I hear it now because of my new hearing aids or because we are closer.  I know we’ve been here dozens of times while weddings went on but I had no idea the music was in hearing range there.

Without meaning to, I say out loud, “That’s loud,” as I look into the trees.  A few others heard me and laughed.  “Now you’re hearing what we hear.”  I can’t believe I haven’t heard the music like that before.  Wow.  The world is a noisy place.

My only issue left is my ears still work out the molds. As I talk/chew/laugh, they work out and I’m pushing them back in.  I guess I have an overly strong muscle there.  It doesn’t irritate my ears like the domes did at least.  They just slide right back in and without feedback so it doesn’t rate high on my list of issues but more like a minor irritation.  Maybe there’s something I else I can or maybe I’ll get used to poking them back but at any rate, I’ll be bringing that up on my next visit to the audiologist.  First I need to wear them a while and see what else might need to be fine turned.

So for now, I’m feeling better with these new hearing aids.  I’m about to run errands in my radio-less car so I’ll hook everything up and listen to my 80’s station on Pandora.

Managing New Hearing Aids

In Hearing aids on August 17, 2014 at 12:48 pm

By Chelle George

Shiny box to protect the new hearing aids.

Shiny box to protect the new hearing aids.

A few weeks ago vocational rehabilitation gave their approval for my new hearing aids and last week they were in. I went in Wednesday to get them programmed and to get hearing aids molds made. We know from the loaner hearing aid I did not like the domes. There’s some feedback problems and they constantly push out of my ear so every 5 minutes I pushing them back in. My ear became sore so I returned the loaner early not wanting to deal with it.

Here are the new hearing aids.  With domes.

Domes.  Blah.

New hearing aids-Cool! Domes-not cool.

And they are a boring color so I will have to decorate them when I have time this week.

As soon as we turned the new hearing aids on the feedback was horrendous.  If I can hear it that loud then I know it’s bad.  It’s not just the high pitched squeal, these babies SCREAM because my hearing loss is moderate/severe so the power is turned up.  Once they were in my ears they were okay until I went to run my fingers through my hair.  I winced and the audiologist said he’d take ear impressions later which will take away the feedback.  I hope.

These Siemens “Carat” hearing aids just came out last week with a new upgrade and I’m one of the first to try it.  There are more options than my old hearing aids had like turning off the annoying beep when batteries are low.  He can change the beeps to more tolerable beeps when I change programs on them and that I like because the beeping has always driven me nuts.  I made sure I had a T-coil so I continue to use the hearing loop and neck loops for my phone. I can change the programs on my hearing aids because he knew I didn’t want to carry around a remote on top of everything else.  Then he pulled out this…

Mr. Bluetooth

Mr. Bluetooth

And I’m not exactly thrilled to see this to tell you the truth.  Bluetooth sounds great but it wears my hearing aid batteries down faster and my phone battery as well.  Yeah, it has great sound but I don’t like all the extra drain.  When I use my T-coil, (neck loop and hearing loop) there is no extra battery drain at all.  I am Ms. T-coil and my audiologist is Mr. Bluetooth and here’s where we clash.  The device came with the hearing aids so of course I’ll take it.

I can’t use it to hook into meetings and I could use it for TV if I buy some adapter but I’m not a big TV fan (until football starts up again) and I’ve used captions since the late 90’s to fill in the missing pieces so ‘listening’ to TV is kind of weird.  I’m unsure if I’ll hear enough even with the bluetooth and will probably end up depending on captions anyway.

The only cool thing about this device is there’s an app for my phone which I downloaded.  It lets me chose the direction I want to hear from; all around me, focus forward or backward and to the sides.  I can control treble and bass which is nice for my music.  Music sounds so tinny through bluetooth and the neckloops.  I think that’s because I don’t hear the higher frequencies anymore and when that’s added in through my hearing aids, it sounds weird.  I hear low tones (bass) and that’s what I’m used to.

The app also shows how much life is left in my hearing aid batteries and that’s kind of cool, it’s much nicer to check in that way instead of all annoying beeping.  So he showed me how to use it all, took ear impressions for new molds and sent me on my way.

I kept the bluetooth device on as I went shopping, listening to my music with the bass turned up.  I can also change programs with that devices.  Maybe sometimes I’ll use it.

Being a good girl I wore them the rest of the of the day even though when I laid back on pillows to watch a movie, they screamed so I sat up.  Sounds come through naturally and I like that.  The domes made my ears itch too so I was constantly pulling them out and jamming my finger in so scratch.  I’d put them back in with a whole lot of screaming before they settled into my ears again.

The next day I went to work with for a full of training.  The feedback made people on the other side of the room cringe.  It’s a good thing I work I at a deaf and hard of hearing center because they all put it up with it in good nature.  I had troubles changing my programs and had to used the bluetooth device to change it so I knew where I was at.  If I walked too far away from phone, I lost the bluetooth connection and had to find it all over again.  The battery on my phone went so low I had to charge it while at work which is something I normally don’t do.

I found myself frustrated with all the technology and I’ve never felt that way with new hearing aids before.  It’s like when I get a new phone, I’m excited about all the new options but frustrated with the learning process.

When I got home, I put the new hearing aids back in their shiny box and they have not come back out since.  I’m not wearing them again until the feedback problem is fixed (this coming Thursday afternoon).  I took out my old comfy hearing aids the next day to finish day two of training at work without feedback.

I’m on the fence with these new hearing aids.  There’s some cool features but I’m worried the ear molds won’t be able to control the SCREAMING feedback.  If they don’t, I’ll return them and try another kind.  Maybe my hearing loss is too severe these days for hearing aids???  That thought floats around in my mind too.  In which case, I’ll have to consider a cochlear implant or go the deaf route with more sign language.  However I feel like I cope pretty well without hearing aids with lip reading and a few rules (like face me when talking to me).

I’m facing another threshold I think.  If my hearing drops even a little more it will shift my entire world once again.

threshold

Finding Your Hard of Hearing Tribe

In SWC convention on August 7, 2014 at 5:35 pm

By Chelle George

  The SayWhatClub convention was held last month in Madison, WI.  A number of us came together for about 4 days finding our place, in our tribe.  We love the convention idea, the workshops, the location and the hotel but mainly we come together because we enjoy hanging out with others who are hard of hearing.  We understand our communication needs and help each other along and no matter what, it’s like being with long, lost friends/family.

I think of looking forward to getting there and I completely wear myself out while there trying to soak up as much as the tribal high as I can.  I have a great time.  This blog post is dedicated to the people who went and made the convention what it was.  I miss everyone so much.

Marty and I at the registration table.  I get to work with some of the best people.

Marty and I at the registration table. I get to work with some of the best people.

A scene from the welcome party with Vicky, Maurice, Henderson, Nancy with Marti, Joyce and Joanne at the table behind.

A scene from the welcome party with Vicky, Maurice, Henderson, Nancy with Marti, Joyce and Joanne at the table behind.

Then later a few us gathered (tradionally) at the hotel bar to visit.  You see Jim, Tom, Marti and Jazzy.

Then later a few us gathered (traditionally) at the hotel bar to visit. You see Jim, Tom, Marti and Jazzy.

The city bus tour crowd on Thursday.  Lots of them toured the city and even our local chair, Donna, said she learned things about Madison.

The city bus tour crowd on Thursday. Lots of them toured the city and even Donna, who lives near Madison, said she learned things about the city.

I didn't do the city tour but as I came back to the hotel, I found them all getting off the bus.  Here is Leslie, me and Stephen.

I didn’t do the city tour but as I came back to the hotel, I found them all getting off the bus. Here is Leslie, me and Stephen.

The cochlear informal chat gathering with Michele, Wendy and Robin.

The cochlear informal chat gathering with Michele, Wendy and Robin.

Here is Pat, who helped arrange the tour, Vicky, Shelley and our local chair, Donna.

Here is Pat, who helped arrange the tour, Vicky, Shelley and our local chair, Donna.

Even the hotel guy got in the fun when I returned some equipment we didn't need.  The hotel was a fantastic choice.

Even the hotel guy got in the fun when I returned some equipment we didn’t need. The hotel was a fantastic choice.

The Friday Night fish fry crowd.  We gathered outside the Old Fashioned while waiting for them put tables together for us.  It was good company and probably the best fish and chips I've ever had.

The Friday Night fish fry crowd. We gathered outside the Old Fashioned while waiting for them put tables together for us. It was good company and probably the best fish and chips I’ve ever had.

Socializing wasn't all that difficult between the tribe in spite of the acoustics.  Pictured are Lorne, Donna, Shari, Mike and Joanne.

Socializing wasn’t all that difficult between the tribe in spite of the acoustics. Pictured are Lorne, Donna, Shari, Mike and Joanne (who I seemed to have caught half way to a smile).

Another great group of people. Vicky, Nancy, Marty and Stephen.

Another great group of people. Vicky, Nancy, Marty and Stephen.

Good food, good people.  What more do we need? Here is Henderson, Pat, Jim and Mary Lou.

Good food, good people. What more do we need? Here is Henderson, Pat, Jim and Mary Lou.

Here is Brenda and her husband Tom who accompanied her to the convention this year.  He learned things and had fun too.

Here is Brenda and her husband Tom who accompanied her to the convention this year. He learned things and had fun too.

The bar is a popular spot after the workshops, after the touring and when things are winding down. It’s not about the drinking so much as it is just being together.  Leslie, below, had us laughing so hard that night our stomachs hurt.

Leslie taking a selfie for her matching outfit and drink (in person the drink was blue!).

Leslie taking a selfie for her matching outfit and drink-in person the drink was blue!

These are my people and they are my tribe.  They are where I feel the most comfortable.  I think we should open a hard of hearing intentional community.  Once a year is not nearly enough time to be with these people.

There are more fun pictures floating around which other people took.  I’ll go through them, get permission to use them and show them off in another post in the not too distant future.

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