Wednesday, September 18, 2013

The Care and Keeping of Deaf Ears

I went in for my semi-annual hearing check-up last week. Now that I'm an adult and my hearing hasn't changed in years, I don't have to go in unless there is a problem. When I was a child I had to go multiple times a year... which wasn't fun at all.  It's still not super fun, but now I at least understand the importance of it all. 

For those of you who don't know, I'm deaf. It's a genetic thing that only showed up in one person of my generation - me. I started loosing my hearing when I was about four, and it got progressively worse until I was about seven. I spent a lot of my childhood in audiologist offices taking hearing tests and getting new earmolds made and trying out new hearing aids.

I've written more about what it means for me to be deaf here. This post is specifically about hearing aids and levels of hearing.

This is the hearing aid from my left ear. It is nine years old and by today's standards, it is quite large. Believe it or not, my aids before these were even larger... when I got these I couldn't believe how small they were! And my very first power aids had a power box that I had to wear in a pouch on my waist, and it had cords that went up to my ears. NOT what a six-year-old wants to be wearing.

The earmolds are soft. I'm not sure if they're silicone or something similar, but they're about four years old and will need to be replaced soon. The tubes are new - tubes shrink up and get hard so you have to replace them every year or so. My old tubes were so bad that I was actually loosing sound. As soon as I got these new ones in, I realized that there were a lot of high pitched sounds I hadn't been hearing for months.

One battery lasts for 7-10 days. They cost about $1 each.

My hearing aids cannot be exposed to water. I have to be very careful to dry my hair, or cover my ears if I'm out in the rain.

The aids get my hearing up close to but not at normal level. I can actually hear most sounds with them (except the last few notes on the piano), but I don't hear the very high ones normally. I also have audio processing issues, which is why I rely so heavily on lipreading. Many many people don't realize that I'm deaf unless they recognize my slight accent - this is because with lipreading I get 94% of what's being said at a reasonable distance (listening to a pastor, for instance, is very different, and forget television). Without being able to lipread, I only get 20% of what is being said. Even though I can hear a lot of the sounds, my brain just can't go fast enough to keep up. No wonder my eyes get tired!

No comments: