Friday, February 09, 2007

Plugged In

I had an appointment with my audie (audiologist).

Before I go on, I want to stress the importance of seeing an audie if you think you have a hearing problem. I do not recommend going to a hearing aid dealer/specialist (to me, they're nothing more than glorified [hearing aid] salespeople working on a commission). Audiologists have the training, the credentials, and advanced knowledge about what hearing aids are right for you. They work with you. I feel more comfortable, too. Sure, hearing aids (HAs) are not cheap. The last ones cost $1200 apiece. HAs have an average lifespan of 5-7 years. The ones I have now are about 5 years old. It gets expensive to get HAs replaced every 5-7 years, but it's worth it.

Here's some interesting facts: Just like fingerprints, every ear is different. What's more, the ear changes its shape every few years-even two years. so sometimes it's necessary to replace the earmold because they don't fit anymore. Otherwise pockets of air get in there and it whistles in your ear (very irriating!), not to mention how damaging it is to the ear.

My hearing dropped since the last time I got new HAs. I am in the process of getting new, more powerful HAs.

I had to get new earmolds for my new HAs. This is common. This was the reason for my appointment.

The audie tied up a small piece of cotton with a string and pushed one gently into each ear. Then she filled each ear canal with a thick, pliant material (think silly putty but more waxy-like). She leaves it to set for about 15 minutes. It feels cool and well, ...there. I don't chew gum that much, but I wished I had some gum to release the plugged in feeling, but then again, that could affect the molding process.

She returns and pulls them out by the sting and then checks each ear for anything that may have gotten stuck in there.

She tells me that my earmolds will be bigger than the ones I have now. This is because my new HAs are going to be more powerful. This helps to avoid the feedback or whistling problems. (I always wondered why some of the hard-of-hearing or deaf people I knew had bigger earmolds than others. I just didn't question it because I thought every audie's specification was different.)

I have a new appointment in three weeks. I will be getting new HAs!! The only downside is that the brain needs to adjust to the new HAs. So things will sound different until it adjusts to it. The sounds I hear are always hollow-like, kind of tinny or metallic. A dropped coin sounds "rattlely." It's pretty much artificial. Most of the time, it only takes about a few days to a week to retrain the brain to get used to the HAs and the sounds.

I will post an update on that once I get the new HAs.

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At Sun Feb 11, 05:09:00 PM , Blogger Sue Flaska said...

Just curious if cokular (sp?) implants would benefit you. Other than that, I learned quite a bit from this post. There. My lessons for the day.


At Sun Feb 11, 08:02:00 PM , Blogger Shari said...


That's cochlear implant. I could be a candidate. Yeah, one of my ears may qualify for a cochlear implant because it's in the profound range. I will consider that as a last resort. It's weird that it got so bad. My speech recognition went from around 85% in my twenties to around 46%. Just weird. I remember being able to talk on the phone without hearing aids as a kid. Usher Syndrome has so many subtypes within each type (Type 1, Type 2, and thye 3). I believe there's like 7 subtypes in type i, three in type 2 and one in type 3, but don't quote me on that. Everyone progresses differently.

I am glad that you learned something. This is why I thought I'd write this blog. To tell the world my perspective and perhaps teach something about different aspects of living with Usher Syndrome.


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