Wednesday, May 30, 2012

I can hear clearly now ...

My hearing aid is fixed.
Two weeks ago, I had to leave my right hearing aid behind with the audiologist for repair.
In the interim, I've been wearing my old hearing aid (from the days when I wore a device only in my right ear).  It's been less than pleasant, but it was better than nothing.
Yesterday, I finally got the repaired unit back.  And what a difference.
Obviously, the damned thing had been operating poorly for some time before I gave up in frustration and insisted that something be investigated.
Turns out it was broken, but good.  The speaker had somehow been dislodged; there was a crack in the casing; and the outer facing had to be replaced.  Essentially, they had to rebuild it.
The repair cost me $299.00 -- an expense that is not covered by my insurance because I'm still within the five-year limit of the plan.  But it had to be done so I had to spring for it!
I remember just prior to getting this pair of hearing aids back in September of 2008 (when I was wearing only one hearing aid), the device broke in June of that year.  I had to pay $250.00 then to have it fixed, knowing full well that when my hearing was tested in September, I would probably be going to binaural aids.  I was right.  But at least the repair left me with a "back up" hearing aid that I was able to use when this one broke (luckily it was the right ear and not the left!).
The audiologist was showing me what she was doing as she programmed my hearing aid for me.  The graph plotted my hearing as it was without a hearing aid, and how I would hear with the hearing aid.  It was interesting to finally understand what the graph meant.  The line of what I could hear normally (without the hearing aid) was plotted out entirely outside the range of the normal speech range.  As she put it, "Without your hearing aid, you don't hear anything with your right ear."
Tell me something I don't know!  I sleep on my left side, and once my left ear is buried in the pillow, the world is all quiet for me.  I hear nothing because only my right ear is exposed to sound, none of which can get through to me.
I don't hear John talking to me.
I don't hear the dog barking.
I don't hear the telephone ring.
I don't hear thunderstorms, regardless to how violent they might be.
I didn't hear the commotion outside the night the bear visited.
Here's a copy of my hearing test results:
The shaded portion at the top reflects "normal hearing range" -- that's the range in which someone without a hearing impairment would test.  The "x" is the left ear; the "o" the right.  You can see that both my ears tested below normal hearing.   You can also see that clarity of speech is significantly diminished, especially in my right ear.  She explained that some sounds cannot be deciphered, regardless to how loud they are projected for me.  Hence, I often have to ask people to repeat themselves, even when wearing my hearing aids -- I simply cannot process what I'm hearing.
I have mild to medium-severe sensorineural hearing loss in my left ear. (Sensorineural hearing loss results from missing or damaged sensory cells (hair cells) in the cochlea and is usually permanent. Also known as “nerve deafness”, sensorineural hearing loss can be mild, moderate, severe or profound.)
My right ear has medium to severe mixed hearing loss.  (A mixed hearing loss is a combination of  sensorineural and conductive hearing loss. It results from problems in both the inner and outer or middle ear.  Any problem in the outer or middle ear that prevents sound from being conducted properly is known as a conductive hearing loss. Conductive hearing losses are usually mild or moderate in degree.  In some cases, a conductive hearing loss can be temporary.)
Throw in tinnitus in both ears (mine is a constant hissing sound that drives me nuts); the right ear is worse than the left. (Tinnitus involves the annoying sensation of hearing sound when no external sound is present. Tinnitus symptoms include these types of phantom noises in your ears: ringing; buzzing; roaring; clicking; whistling; hissing.  The phantom noise may vary in pitch from a low roar to a high squeal, and you may hear it in one or both ears. In some cases, the sound can be so loud it can interfere with your ability to concentrate or hear actual sound. Tinnitus may be present all the time, or it may come and go.) 
But for now, my right hearing aid is fixed and I can hear clearly again.
At least, I can hear as clearly as my hearing can be corrected.
If life gets too noisy for me, I simply remove my "ears" and the world becomes fairly quiet!

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