last week i added a whole new category of accessories to my collection. i got a hearing aid, and a ton of shwag and sound that came with it.
my medical drama all started with hearing loss. the hearing loss led to brain surgery to remove the tumor that was causing the hearing loss. getting rid of the tumor wouldn’t restore my hearing in that ear. the best case scenario was that the hearing i still had would remain, and the worst was that i’d have no hearing at all in that ear.
after the surgeries i ended up with a little bit of hearing in that ear. not really any useable hearing, but there was still some there.
this means that i live in a mono AM world. gone are the days of FM radio, hearing things in stereo. being pretty much deaf in one ear is an inconvenience, but AM is better than nothing at all. i’ve learned to make adjustments – strategic seating when i’m with a group so that my good ear is pointing in, asking folks to walk on my good side. triangulation is maybe the biggest problem. with hearing in only one ear, i can’t tell where sounds are coming from. i can hear a car coming, but i can’t tell whether it’s behind me or in front of me. someone shouts “hey kriste!” while i’m out for a walk and i have no idea what direction it came from. so i look like an idiot swirling all around trying to find the person. but chances are that if they’re saying “hey kriste!” they know what’s up with my hearing. so it’s an inconvenience, but not much more than that. and my vision is corrected well enough that i can usually find them, and i can look and see which direction the car is coming from.
so being deaf in one ear is no big whoop. the only time i was really bummed about it was this may when the new beastie boys album came out. i downloaded it and listened to it, and it hit me that i would never hear it in stereo. bummed, but not the end of the world.
meanwhile, my mom was researching the baha – bone-anchored hearing aid. she meant well, wanted my life to be as easy as possible, but i just couldn’t take the idea of another thing implanted in my head. i already have a shunt on my right side. i told her that when i was ready to think about a hearing aid she’d be the first to know. she kept researching and then found out that there are behind-the-ear hearing aids that might work for my hearing loss. so i set up an appointment for a hearing test and an appointment with my fabulous ENT, dr. benton (the guy who saved my life by sending me for the MRI and finding my tumor), to talk about options. i had the hearing test with diane and she said that she thought that a regular behind-the-ear would work for me because i actually have enough hearing to amplify. during the hearing test i heard words in my left ear – it had been a really long time. diane said that i should come back in and she’d have a hearing aid set up for my specific hearing loss. dr. benton said to go for it. so i did.
i came back in and she had the hearing aid all ready to go. i put it in and i was amazed. we chatted and i could actually look away and still follow what she was saying. she told me to take it for a spin. so i walked out to the waiting room and sat down on my mom’s right side. she didn’t even notice that i had it in. it’s pretty inconspicuous. i walked out on the sidewalk and i could tell which direction the cars were coming from. it felt like a miracle.
i headed back to diane’s office. she told me (in both ears) about the crazy things that these hearing aids can do. this one is wireless, and it has 4 programs that she can adjust for different environments – she basically has a mixing board in her computer for it. i press a tiny button at the top and it goes from the regular program to one that’s mixed for someplace with a lot of background noise. there’s a program for talking on a phone, and another one that she’ll set up if i identify a need. you can even clip a microphone on your shirt and it becomes a bluetooth telephone – sending the audio straight into the hearing aid. i’m not much of a phone-talker, so i doubt i’ll be going for that feature.
my parents and i talked it over – it costs in the used car range – and decided it was worth it. so i called diane and said i’d go for it. went with boring old taupe instead of electric blue. she said she’d have it in a few days.
she did. i went back in and she had it all set and ready to go. of course the first thing i did when i got home was listen to the new beastie boys album.