New hearing aids? It’s supposed to be an exciting time but it’s usually full of discomfort and adjustment. I recently blogged about switching to Phonak water resistant behind the ear hearing aids. When I got them, we programmed them and I took them home. New hearing aids usually make the world sound foreign and strange, so I was prepared for that. What I wasn’t prepared for was the fact that the hearing aids weren’t reducing background noise. This is the main benefit of my previous hearing aids- they reduced background noise and amplified conversation. I rode on the subway with the Phonak aids and felt like I was on a rollercoaster. The machinery noises overpowered the conversation of my friends and I felt out of place. At the movies, the new hearing aids did amplify sound well and I think I was able to hear better. Otherwise, the Phonak aids weren’t going to work for my everyday life because most of life revolves around conversation and talking.
Another issue was the placement of the hearing aid behind the ear. I thought they were going to be like my old hearing aids when I was young. These aids went all the way behind the ear and were kind of long. The Phonak aids were short and sat almost on top of my ear. I had gotten them in a clear color which I thought was going to look really cool- see through, yeah! But it looked weird sitting on top of my ear. So I’m getting them re-cased in black so they’ll blend in with my hair. After that, we’re going to re-program them and see if we can improve the sound experience. I really want to like the new hearing aids, and I really want them to work for my life. Until, then I’ve got my trusty Widex ones to hold me over. Maybe one day I’ll invest in these amazing iPhone compatible aids that are soon to be released. These utilize the iPhone as the transmitter- no intermediaries or neck loops needed. Very cool!!!
What have been your experiences when getting new hearing aids? How have you managed the transition?
P.S. Grad school has taken over my life, but I don’t want to let this blog fade away. Hopefully I’ll be posting more soon.
It has been TOO long, guys! I’m sorry I haven’t posted but I promise you I will not let this blog fade away. I’m really excited about sharing with you over the long haul. I remember finding a blog written by a pregnant woman with Usher Syndrome and being so disappointed when she stopped posting before the baby was born. It’s like you missed the ending to a good story. So…long story short, that’s not happening here!
So let’s get to it. You may have noticed my title: kayaking & hearing aids! What’s going on here? I have been kayaking 3 times, once in Beacon, NY (my favorite town ever), once in Costa Rica, and once in Inwood. I really enjoy it every time as it’s both a physical challenge and a mental challenge. You really have to strategize your strokes and figure out how to maneuver where you want to go. It requires a lot of effort to go against the current and forge ahead. I’ve always had to kayak without my hearing aids, which presents a challenge. I feel very uneasy about leaving my hearing aids on shore and also about having them in a watertight container on the kayak itself. Neither is ideal for me. My hearing aids cannot get wet and I wouldn’t want to risk losing or destroying them. Something else to consider is that if you’re kayaking with other people, you might not be close to them in the water and it can be hard to communicate.
Yet, when you’re out there on the water, it’s as if you’ve conquered the world. It seems BRAVE and CRAZY to be on your own in a plastic contraption, rolling in the current. You look around you and the world looks different and shiny and brand-new. Majestic bridges, green trees, picturesque sailboats. It’s life from a different perspective. You’re small and yet you feel large in the moment.
This kayaking high is what brought me to ask my audiologist at Helen Keller about waterproof or water resistant hearing aids. She asked me why I was interested, and I may have oversold my love for water activities (I don’t actually do that many). She was able to help me, telling me about a behind-the-ear hearing aid from Phonak that was highly water resistant. It was really exciting to hear about it. I don’t think this technology was around when I was a kid. I selected those hearing aids and now I’m just waiting for them to come in. I’ll review them once I get them.
I can’t wait to try the hearing aids. I needed them this past weekend when I went kayaking on Sunday at the Inwood Canoe Club’s free weekly open house. Uptowners should definitely check it out. The current was a little all over the place and I had trouble hearing the leader. But I had informed them I wore hearing aids and someone stayed with me to help me navigate better. It was an absolutely beautiful day and it made me eager to go kayaking again soon. There is a really amazing MTA kayaking getaway deal that I’ve done before and highly recommend- would definitely do it again.
The word “disabled” doesn’t stop me from doing things. I know if there are any challenges, I just need to come up with a solution. I believe that being open about my challenges empowers me. I believe it helps others to better understand me. Asking for help and communicating what I need requires inner strength and confidence. It would be easy to pretend I heard everything or walk by myself (slowly, away from the group) or not go to the bathroom because I don’t want to figure out where it is. But that would be sad and I really wouldn’t be fully participating or enjoying experiences. There’s no shame in asking someone to repeat or holding onto a friend’s arm in the street. I’ve even had a movie theater usher help me find my seat on my way back from the bathroom. It might be a little awkward, but it’s nothing compared to living a life of fear and shame. If you know something that invigorates you, pursue it full force and turn any obstacles into hills you just walk over 🙂
When I first got hearing aids at 4 years old, they were NOT cool. I forget what style they were, but I remember wearing something around my neck and a clip on box. Yikes! Later on I got flesh tone behind-the-ear hearing aids. I still felt a little different and a little self conscious about it. But I was a kid, and I adjusted. Eventually, my hearing aids became just another accessory I wore like a watch and earrings.
There are many annoying things about having hearing loss. Sometimes, it seems like you say “What?” ALL the time. But all the annoying and negative things are out the window today. I think there are actually some unexpected perks and advantages to hearing loss.
1. You have an excuse to get close to interesting people- singles, pay attention!
You might be at a bar or at a party or on the dance floor. You might be on an actual date. Since you wear hearing aids, you have an excuse for sitting closer to them and leaning in, or even talking into each other’s ears on the dance floor.
2. You can mute the world at will.
Too loud? Witnessing a relentless argument? Can’t sleep on the plane? Tired of noise pollution? Just take your hearing aids out or turn them off. So simple and easy! Others might actually be jealous of the ability to do this.
3. You can always claim you didn’t hear.
Good for getting out of sticky situations. You were supposed to take out the garbage- you didn’t know! You were supposed to turn in the report today- you didn’t hear that! The discount expired- nobody said it! Who can argue against you?
Do you have any stories about these perks of hearing loss? Any more to add?