Wednesday, May 13, 2009

New Hearing Aids

A few weeks ago, I was fitted with new hearing aids. My old hearing aids are about 3 years old, and pretty much work fine. However, my "back-up" hearing aids (the ones I wear to the pool or on a boat, or take on vacation with me in the event of needed a spare) stopped working after last summer. Since I absolutely CAN NOT be in a situation where I don't have a back-up, I decided it was time to get new aids.

The Phonak Naida hearing aids were recommended, and I was pretty excited. They are supposed to have a marked improvement on speech clarity, and also have added benefits of being water-resistant, significantly reducing feedback, and cutting out wind noise. However, within an hour of leaving my audiologists office, I knew they weren't going to work for me. It basically sounded like I had cotton in my ears AND a horrible head cold. It was fun for about 2 seconds to realize I could hear things like people talking two rooms over, but not at the expense of being able to function. Back to the drawing board.

Today, I was fitted with yet another kind. These are the Unitron Digital BTE with volume control. As soon as my audiologist put them in, I already knew that they were 1000 times better than the oh-so-special Naida ones (seriously, for $2000 a piece you think they'd be better!!) Anyhow, we did a little tweaking, I went and ran some errands and hung out at home and then went back for some minor changes. Now I am going to try them for a few days.

Its always frustrating, challenging and hard to get used to new hearing aids. Even if they are "better" the changes in sounds, frequencies, hearing things I didn't hear before, and getting used to how different people's voices sound is tiring. On one hand its exciting, because it IS an improved quality of hearing, even if its hard to pick up on the improvements immediately. I know I have to go with the flow and just test them out for more than a few hours. So far...

The Good
* Clear sounds, improved volume without excessive feedback
* Seem to do okay understanding speech, though I haven't talked to anyone but my audiologist and my 2 year old!
* Am picking up sounds I previously didn't, such as the clicking of my turn signals or the clicking of the keyboard
* Very similar programming as my old ones--regular setting, noisy situation setting, and telephone setting (also an "auto" setting, but I'll get to that in a minute...)
* Cost - I totally forgot to ask but I figure they can't be any more than the Naida, right? We were prepared to use our home equity line of credit for that, so I figure it will be the same with these. Who knows maybe they'll be significantly less?? Doubtful...

Now, The Bad
* The volume is a little unnerving. I mean, I have always been one to crank it up as loud as I can, but this is sort of...almost too loud, where certain sounds have almost a vibrato or trilling effect. My audiologist lowered the volume a bit but said that may just be something I have to get used to. I have already noticed it a lot less this afternoon.
* The "auto" setting is supposed to automatically adjust to noisy situations on its own. Um, I hate this. I have tried these settings before and hated them. I don't like my hearing aids changing setting because a loud car happens to go by the house for 1 second. I prefer to change it myself. Fortunatley, my aud. made it so that I also have a regular setting in which it won't change.
* Music. WTF. Put on my favorite CD and it was like, warped, garbled, sounded awful. I would not have recgonized the song had it not been displayed on the dashboard. The only thing I can figure is because the hearing aid is supposed to clarify and amplify speech, and reduce background, maybe the combination of singing and music is screwing with it?? Must ask.
* One other thing...since the volume is louder, the hearing aid automatically like, lowers for a second when loud noises occur (like a door slamming, child screaming at the top of his lungs, car backfiring, etc. I think this is to keep you from being overwhelmed by sound, but I don't like it AT ALL. She lessened the severity of it of for me, but its like, if someone slams a door everything goes quiet for a split second.

Anyhow...I'm heading to my parents house for 4 days to run yardsale for my mom, so I'll be in a comfortable environment to test them out - one I'm familar with but without being TOO familiar. Oh and I am going out tonight with the girls from my "mommy group" so that will be another good opportunity. Also testing out a new push-up bra to see if it can stay in place for more than 5 minutes. Here's hoping both endeavors are successful!!!

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