Month: October 2012

Post Sandy Reflections

Today is a departure from our more or less regular comments on my journey through life as a HoH Boomer.

For the past two days I’ve been pretty much sleeping through Sandy the Frankenstorm.  Why sleeping?
Because I could track the pressure put out by Sandy through the changes in my headache – one variation was an invisible super-sized wrestler trying to yank my cranium in half and the other extreme was the gnome inside said cranium hammering a 10 penny nail from the inside trying to get out. It wasn’t until today that the pounding has become a less insistent pulsing. There are still storms around, but none with the incredible low pressures of Sandy. Sandy on 10/30/2012 headed south on 495——>

Around where I live power outages reigned, but we did have water and compared to the Halloween storm of last year – this one was warm so the temperatures are doable. Apparently, though, Sandy took down a high tension power pole about a mile from the office building where I rent space – sort of between it and where I live … so zowie… it took out both.

And we are LUCKY!  Incredibly lucky.  No flooding. No trees crushing people to death. No major catastrophes. My daughter and her middle daughter saw a power line catch on fire today, but they were not harmed by it. In fact, I’m at my daughter’s now, camping on the couch since she has all the amenities.

We are truly blessed. Everyone is alive and well.  We have been mildly inconvenienced, but that is all. I got to spend time with the most precious children in the world (IMO) and I know that all the people I cherish most are blessed with a roof over their heads, food in their mouths, warm beds, and love. We may fuss at each other, but we’re so very fortunate to have what we’ve got – from the poorest church mouse among us to the wealthiest city mouse we’re okay.

We are fortunate to have a government that responds quickly with FEMA for badly damaged areas when we could be like Haiti or other areas were we have no help, no hope, nothing but our own two hands. We have much to be thankful for – even with the damage and the sad loss of life. It could have been much worse.  So thank you, Higher Power (universal for everyone) for your blessings.

Tonight I sleep with a hearing aid in so I can hear my iphone alarm and I’m lucky to have both the hearing aid and the phone.  G’night all.  Be well and be blessed.

New aid/old aid

My first hearing aid was analog. I told the audiologist who fitted me that it was like hollering down a rain barrel. She was a crusty old soul and basically told me to suck it up and be happy.  I remember it was so badly fitted that the top of my ear bled. Thank heavens, she retired, and the person who took over was a dream. My hearing aid was fitted correctly and over time I finally got one of the first digital aids.  Wow.

I’ve done behind the ear (BTE), in the ear (ITE) , and bi-cross with a wire running through my hair (not fun and not repeated). I lost the bi-cross set in a snowbank between Fairbanks and Anchorage (I kid you not). I thought I was doing pretty well with my old Phonak until I got my new Phonak Naida.  Then the earbud broke and I went back to the old Phonak for a short time and I realized while it might fit a little better over the ear, I never realized how bad the sound was in comparison.

But when I got the old one it was way better than the Siemans I had before and that was way better than the Starkey model – and so on and so forth.

It used to be that a hearing aid was just a microphone and a speaker. Now there is what amounts to a tiny computer either in or behind the ear. It can shut down extremely loud, abrupt noises for folks like me who have a pain reflex to such (although there are times it can’t control it all). It conditions sound, for lack of a better term. Sound coming in at frequencies I can’t hear is somehow transformed into frequencies I CAN hear – sometimes for better or worse – put my grandson behind me in a car and it sounds like Darth Vader is shouting at me.  Oy vey!

Someone on a Deaf and HoH attorney’s list shared a NY Times blog by a person who still wore an analog hearing aid and was happy to have the wax encrusted, cracked aid (must be an ITE) fixed.  I can only assume she uses it only for environmental noises, because my first aids were awful in terms of all the extraneous noises.  The blog (above) talks about the hunt for an affordable hearing aid. It takes folks on a long journey to various retailers including big box stores. And while I’m all for folks shopping (assuming they have the time and the money to drive all over) the fact is that a competent hearing aid center like Audio Hearing Center, the one I go to – sure, I’ll plug them here since the Times article plugs big box vendors – has a very wide variety of hearing aids. They carry all the major brands.  I go Phonak because I have Phonak FM and iCom and I don’t want to change to a new brand. There are hearing aids without bells and whistles and one’s that can adapt like crazy – which for me is a godsend.  I think the important thing is to get a GOOD audiologist and a GREAT tech.  Mine is also an electrical engineer.  I have a relationship with my hearing aid vendor and staff, just like a good doctor. You go to a big box store and meet different people all the time. I will stay with Dawn and Joel, thank you.

But back to the point – which is old and new technology.  Last night I went to a Buddhist meditation and mind training seminar and had the old aid by mistake. It interpreted some sounds as whistles and others as – I’m not sure what. After a few hours of desperate lip reading I was exhausted. I’d have had to work maybe half as hard if I’d had the right hearing aid.

Sleeping with a hearing aid

I’ve never slept with my hearing aid in before. I’ve heard of folks who do and wondered why. I have been told it is to hear things like fire alarms. Last night I was visiting and tried sleeping with it in.  I wanted to see if there was some particular benefit.

I was awakened by people going up and down the stairs and going into and out of the kitchen (that had partly to do with lights) and got an appreciation that my teenaged granddaughter gets up entirely too early for school. 5 a.m.? Teenagers need more sleep than that!

Having it in meant that I was certainly not going to turn over due to discomfort.  Fortunately, mine are not so large as this one. —->

Since I can’t hear a squeal from it anymore that’s not an issue (I’m told at a certain loss we lose the ability to hear the feedback). For instance, when I get “air kisses” on my right side I am told others hear a hearing aid feedback squeal I’m blissfully unaware of.

It is not anything I have plans for in the future, but I thought it would be a good experience. At least I know it is doable if I need to – although I’m not sure why.  At home I have a vibrating alarm.

If anyone routinely sleeps with one in I’d love to know what the benefits are.

Attribution:  Photo by “Moonbeam” titled “Nutty’s New Hearing Aid”

Silly Saturday

Having made my way through Freaky Friday with only a few bumps and bruises I decided to master what was clearly going to be a Silly Saturday.

Woke up in the wee hours and realized there was a huge electrical storm (my windows were lighting up). Went to the top of the stairs and saw the dog quivering at the bottom. Took him upstairs where he proceeded to hide in the closet. I got him and covered him with a couple layers of blankets on the bed to keep him from tearing up stuff in the closet. This morning I woke up to my vibrating alarm with dog pressed against the small of my back.

Got to the train station and picked up a fellow lawyer, dashed to the office, met with a client, built a website for the lawyer (yes, I do that too) and all the time kept reminding. “I can’t hear you on that side.” Despite it all the site was launched, linner/dunch was eaten and I drove her back to Greater Boston.

I took an iphone photo of my old hearing aid and was going to send it to for her hearing aid feature and I realized (1) this thing is HUGE compared to the Naida, (2) it actually fits better that the Naida (I feel a fitting session coming on) and (3) I can wear bling on this, but not the Naida because there is no hardware in the earbud. In either case the earbud is invisible to the naked camera eye. The reason it is so large is that it has an fm plug on the end of it – on the Naida it resides on the iCom which enables me to use it bluetooth. I’m sure there is more to it than that, but I’m not a tech.

I finally remembered how to operate this hearing aid (which can be adjusted without using a remote control) and am actually pretty happy with it at this point. 🙂 The adaption back to not really hearing all of the sounds in the “hearing banana” took place quicker than I imagined it would – once I figured out how to turn it down. LOL

Hearing Aids – not for the faint of heart

Oh fer goodness sake! Who knew that the earbud of my Naida was going to be so fragile?  I had no idea that the comfy little ear bud was going to fall apart – in my ear, no less.  I was taking it out using the little pull string when the string came out, along with a tiny speaker and the rest of the “guts” I did not realize were in there. My other ear pieces are just some sort of molded plastic with a tube.  I was sitting there in the car, wondering how to get the rest of it out without the little string thing. Suffice it to say, I did get it out and the thing looked like it had run afoul of Wolverine from the X-Men. What was THAT about?  I called the dealer and it will cost $120 for a replacement for an essentially NEW product. I’m mind boggled.  Aren’t they supposed to last longer than a few months?  It is not even a year old!

So today I looked for my last hearing aid – found it, put the battery from the damaged one in it – nothing.  Not good. So I found the hearing aid I’d lost for a year (under a car mat, no less) and put the battery in that one.  It booted, then died. I considered the patriarch of the clan, but went with the one that booted. Got a new battery and put it in.  I realized that it actually fit better behind the ear than the Naida so I’m going to have to get the Naida refitted. It has not been particularly comfy for me in the BTE part.

Because one good FAIL deserves another I killed my iMac by downloading the new OS (sigh) and spent two hours on the phone with support trying to figure out whether it was better or worse with the old hearing aid on (no iCom for that one), getting disconnected once and then still having to truck up to Salem, NH to the Apple store to have a Genius  fix it in 10 minutes.  I tried wearing the old aid in the store, but he caught all the background noise and I turned it off and tucked it in my purse so I could hear the Genius.

I tried wearing my old one to a meeting tonight where there was a lot of background noise (and terps) and ended up taking it out yet again. Thankfully, the folks with the little kid who was bored out of his mind went home at the break, but I decided to just do terps tonight. I’m tired of sound headaches and the older hearing aids tend to give me more of those. Sometimes I wonder about those old ear horns… ear horn

Mentioned this to some HoH friends who freaked wondering where their back-up aids were in the event their primary aid went down.  A good reminder that strange things can happen when you’re dependent on an appliance that is small and sort of dainty to hear things.

Let this be a lesson to those of us with back up aids.  Know where they are in the event you’ve got a sudden system failure.

Photo of earhorn by Photo by Chainsawbait

I don’t have a CI – never will as I’ve nerve deafness, but I appreciate the difference between what I can hear and what others hear. Hearing aids don’t help differentiate sound any better than a CI does.

The Limping Chicken

This enlightening short documentary made by St John’s College, Oxford features Helen Willis who was one of the first people in the UK to receive a cochlear implant.

The documentary shows how cochlear implants work, gives examples of the difference between ‘normal’ hearing and what Helen hears, and shows her life as a student in Oxford. We also find out that Helen, who lost her hearing due to meningitis, uses BSL with her parents and friends.

Helen sees being able to live in a world of silence and a world of synthetic sound as “a gift.” This is well worth a look.

The Limping Chicken is supported by Deaf media company Remark!, provider of sign language services Deaf Umbrella, the Deaf training and consultancy Deafworks,the RAD Deaf Law Centre, and BID’s upcoming 5th anniversary performance by Ramesh Meyyappan on 12th October – don’t miss it!

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Just found this blog. This isn’t a test (unless it is a test of how long it will take you to laugh) and it is totally something everyone – deaf, HoH or hearing should read. (ROFLMAO)

The Limping Chicken

Whether you’re a signer, a lipreader, a hearing aid wearer or a cochlear implant user, or maybe a bit of each of those (and some other things too), there are some things that truly only happen to a deaf person. Things that simply don’t happen to everyone else. Here’s my long-held list below. How many have happened to you?

When you tell people you are deaf, they ask if you understand Braille.

You are forced to remove six-month old bits of food from your Textphone every time you make a phone call.

You curse your mobile phone’s auto correct function when you tell people that you’re “profoundly dead.”

Once in a while, you lose your hearing aids and spend the morning searching for them, before discovering them in the pocket of the trousers you are currently wearing.

At an audiology appointment, you try to *beat* the audiologist by watching them…

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Deaf buttons

No, not on coats or clothing.  I looked up Deaf buttons and came up with Cafe Press and Zazzle.  I went with Zazzle and ordered 4 different ones.  I have Talk With Your Hands (ASL) and I (heart) ASL on my purse.  I will offer the other two to people at the ASL signing meetup tonight.

I would have ordered another one but it used the term Hearing Impaired and the Deaf Community does NOT like that term. (Maybe I should write Zazzle?)  I can see why Hearing Impaired implies the person (me or anyone else) is impaired.  Oddly enough, years ago I was told not to use “partially deaf” or deaf, but to use hearing impaired.   Now Hard of Hearing (HoH) is PC.  I have a hard time keeping up with PC terms.