Wednesday, November 11, 2009

New Hearing Aid

Warning this is a LONG post!

On the Friday before Canberra, my right hearing aid a Phonak PowerZoom P4 AZ, started to cut in and out. It's had a good run I got it in 2001, I used to wear two of them, but I had a cochlear implant in Feb 2004, so between the two of them they lasted 8 years, which is just about on par since the average life span is 4 years.

I have quite a significant loss which has been progressing for many years and I'm now left with profound hearing loss. The hearing aid I've been using, hasn't been giving me much help with speech , but has been useful to discern what direction sounds are coming from and a few other minor sounds.

Last Monday I went to the audiologist to start looking for a new aid. After testing the salesman - yes, salesman since he was 70% salesman & 30% audiologist which annoyed me to no end, recommended the Phonak Naida IX with a whopping price tag, which blew us away.

It was supposed to be ready for me to pick-up on Friday, Thursday I rec'd a call saying that the salesman had never fitted a Naida before, so he wanted to have a more experienced audiologist there at the same time. I was rescheduled for today.

After 2 hours of fiddling neither audiologist was able to get the volume & sound quality to a manageable level at the same time to make the price of the darned thing worthwhile. The seasoned audiologist was much more personable than the salesman and asked me questions about the cochlear etc. He came up with the idea to get in a Phonak rep to see if he/she might be able to adjust the HA to suit my needs, so now it's a waiting game to see when the three schedules (if not 4) all coincide.

At this time I'm starting to think that maybe the next logical step is another implant. I love my implant, it gives me better sound quality than I ever experienced with any HA's. When first confronted with the implant idea at the age of 19, it terrified me, I had visions of Frankenstein with huge bolts coming from the side of my head with the wires attached to a cumbersome & annoying body aid like the original HA's from the 70's.

When I actually did discover that the hearing in my left ear - the dominant ear was gone, I was devastated, I had moved to Australia only a couple of years beforehand and one of the things I had been more or less forced to write in my immigration application was that I wasn't moving here to get a cochlear & that I had no intentions of getting one for a long time, infact my ENT's letter said something about 10-15 years at the earliest. No one had predicted an infection that would wipe out almost everything I had left in less than 5 minutes. it happened so fast that I automatically blamed the HA, and sent it in for repair not once, but twice, after the second time of it coming back and not working we tested the hearing... 4 weeks later. The damage was done, the ENT prescribed steroids were useless.

After many tests, including one for the auditory nerve - ouch! psychological, balance, etc we waited and waited to see if I was eligible, I was sure they were going to reject me based on my immigration paperwork. One month before Christmas my right ear crashed... I was petrified, I'd never learned sign language, I had been mainstreamed my entire life, even if I had learned it, I'd would have known ASL not AUSLAN. Thankfully I still had the stroids from the previous episode which I took immediately, the next morning some hearing had already been regained, I likened it to coming up from deep water into the shallows, I only lost 10 dcB that time.

A short time later we found that I had been accepted for the cochlear, and it has been the best thing that has ever happened to me when it comes to my hearing. I have said before that I wish I had taken a hot poker to my ears years ago, the difference is astonishing, I found myself able to hear where my dog was from the jingling of her tags, and so many other extras which I now take for granted.

In some ways I hope the hearing aid doesn't work out, there are so many benefits to cochlear, sound quality, no earmold, no more or far less ear infections, the external device doesn't need replacing as often, the running cost is higher since they chew through 3 or 4 depending on the model, batteries every 2-4 days.

One other silver lining that lies close to my heart is that if I no longer have any hearing to lose, since my type of loss (LVAS) is pressure susceptible, then I might actually be able to experience a natural birth with any other kids we choose to have. I had scheduled Caesareans with both my boys which were really good experiences, I cannot recommend my OB highly enough for scheduled C-sections, he did a lovely job, I was up & walking aorund with ease within 48hrs of both, mostly drug free, but I always wanted to have a very quiet, natural stressfree labour, this might be my chance.


  1. This makes me truly appreciate my hearing, something up to now, I've always taken for granted. I had my eyes checked last week, and my nearsightedness is getting increasingly worse, but I am thankful I have the means and the ability to have it corrected with lenses at this point.

    Best of luck...

  2. Ohhh I so realate...I have had ear/hearing problems for years, good luck!


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