Perspectives Absent of Sound

Category: Hearing Loss Memos Page 2 of 5

A New Path

Today marks yet another step in my hearing loss journey. As it happens, just when you think the dust has settled a bit and you’ve “got this”, something jolts your complacency back into uncertainty.

About a month ago, I went for my annual hearing check-up. I was happy to learn my hearing has been stable the last few years, but what has changed (greatly) is my speech recognition scores. In one year, I went from recognizing 7 out of 10 words to only being able to decipher 3 of 10 – not very good. So what does this mean?

Here I am getting ready for the hearing test

All the wires…..

Well, amplification can only go so far and that is what hearing aids do – they amplify sound and make the world a very loud place! Here’s my struggle, I can sit in the middle of a loud movie theatre and not be able to distinguish what is being said by the actors, which is why I use a captioning device when I go to the movies. So it’s not about things being loud(er), it’s my inability to understand what is being said……Did I mention I use to be able to name that tune in under 10 seconds?!…….So what now?

It is my understanding that hearing aids will not be able to help me with speech recognition, but a cochlear implant will. I have a friend who said her speech recognition went up to over 90% with an implant, that’s huge! Another friend who enjoys music again – Oh, how I miss music….

If you’re like me, I was clueless how an implant works. I did some research and learned there are two components to a cochlear implant – an internal and external. The internal (implanted) portion has a receiver and tiny electrodes, which is imbedded under the skin behind the ear. The electrodes are surgically inserted into the cochlea.

Here are the two components from the brand Cochlear America

The external portion, includes a speech processor that is connected to a headpiece by a cord – It magnetically attaches to the surface of the head behind the ear at the spot where the internal portion of the implant is located. The headpiece has a transmitting coil that sends the signal from the speech processor to the internal part of the cochlear implant. It’s pretty darn amazing technology!

To be honest, I’m still wrapping my head around the idea. Like any surgery there are risks that have to be considered. For one, I may lose what little hearing I have left. There could be injury to the facial nerve. I could develop attacks of dizziness or vertigo and those are just a few. There is a lot to consider.

Here is information on two of the 3 brands of C.I’s – Advanced Bionics and Cochlear America

Over the course of the next several months, I will be sharing this walk with you as I navigate through the decision making process. If you have a C.I. please share your experience, I would love to hear from you!

Summer of Friends & Family

It’s been a whirlwind summer and hard to believe we are now into August, Wow! I’m trying to absorb all the wonderful things that have come my way the last two months. When they say you need to stop and smell the roses….Well, that’s what I’m doing right now because I don’t want to forget what an amazing summer this has been!

In June, I went to Salt Lake City, Utah to attend my first HLAA/Hearing Loss Association of America National Convention (it was also my first visit to Salt Lake) 

– Four glorious days spent with people like me, hard of hearing. It was the first time (since hearing loss) that I felt so completely comfortable and at ease. I wasn’t worried about ‘hearing’ or ‘not hearing’. Not sure if that makes sense to those of you that are hearing……..On any normal day, I’m surrounded by people who forget I don’t hear very well and the burden is on me to catch everything being said – it gets exhausting. So for 4 days at the HLAA convention, everything is hearing loss friendly –workshops and evening events all captioned – the stress of having to hear every word is gone. On top of that, I hung out with and got to know some of my hearing loss friends better as well as meet a bunch of pretty amazing people!

I kicked off the month of July with our second hearing loss chapter support group meeting in Tempe, Arizona, which I lead for the Phoenix area working adults. 

We had a really good turnout and an engaging audience of people that came to learn about a technology lending program we have here called AzTAP/Arizona Technology Access Program. It’s because of this wonderful group, I am able to find support and learn about programs in my community. The icing on the cake is meeting people and growing my “tribe” of hearing loss friends. 

Closed out July spending time in Indiana with my family (it was my husband’s first visit). The week was filled with activity and lots of wonderful food – Speaking of, we took my husband to an Amish home for dinner and we indulged BIG TIME! 

As a matter of fact, I don’t think I can ever have another slice of store bought bread, because the Amish bread we had sent my taste buds to another dimension! Aside from the food, I can’t tell you how special it was to have time and reconnect with my family and meet up with old friends – some I haven’t seen in over 10 years! 

It’s definitely been the summer of friends and family. I have some really exciting things coming in August, which I will share with you SOON!

Stay tuned……

G is for Games (with the Gameboy Geek)

Recently I was invited over to my friend Dan’s house, “The Gameboy Geek”, for a gaming party.   Never been to a gaming party before; therefore, I didn’t know what to expect – this would be the first time I’ve actually played board games with hearing loss.  (Yea, It’s been a few years….hahaha!)  I admit, I’m not usually one to sit still long enough to play board games, but I decided to go and check it out.

There were several tables set up and a different game was being played at each table.  Quickly into our table game, I realized I couldn’t keep up – I forgot how interactive gaming was!  As a matter of fact, one game we played involved quite a bit of collaboration.  I admit, I was lost and decided to just observe, but it made me sad because I wanted to be a part of the fun.

After the gaming event, I reached out to Dan (or “Geek” as I call him) to share my difficulty in playing games at his party.  I asked if he could suggest some games that would be good for people with hearing loss and here are his suggestions:

Happy salmon.

Reverse Charades

Letter Tycoon

Dan makes it easy by showing you how to play each game in the videos, I like that and look forward to having a gaming party of my own very soon!  What’s your favorite board game to play?

F is for FM System #AtoZChallenge

While hearing aids these days are (in of itself) some pretty awesome technology, they can also be enhanced by the use of an FM System to help a person hear distance or in a noisy environment.

You may recognize FM in terms of radio – FM Radio (Frequency Modulation).  The reason FM transmission is used to help hearing aid wearers is that it’s resilient to noise and interference, which helps preserve the quality and clarity of the sound being transmitted.

Here’s my SmartLink .
It’s a three-in-one device: an FM transmitter, a mobile phone Bluetooth link and hearing aid remote control. It’s pretty cool!

How does it work?  As you can see it’s small and portable, which makes it very convenient to use in a variety of daily situations where hearing assistance is needed.  When I am in those situations, I turn on my “SmartLink”, it syncs up to my hearing aids (via Bluetooth technology) and I’m quickly able to hear better – sometimes a few tables over, so be careful if sitting next to me!

Just like any part of the body (ears no exception) if you’re straining to hear, you will suffer mental fatigue – I am often exhausted after being in challenging hearing environments.  This is why I like using the FM system because it reduces my mental fatigue and allows me to have the energy to do other things as opposed to collapsing at the end of the day.

You can purchase an FM system online, in electronics stores and through your audiologist.  If you don’t wear hearing aids, but struggle to hear, you may want to consider getting a hearing test! (Also, read my “A” post about my audiogram experience – haha!) Have you had a hearing test lately?

E is for Egg Explosion #AtoZChallenge

My husband and I have been on the low-carb way of eating for a few months and with that, you eat A LOT of eggs!  I’m often boiling eggs so we can have hard boiled eggs ready for consumption on a moment’s notice.  The thing about boiling eggs on the stove is (with my method), it takes a bit of time and attention for the perfect hard-boiled egg.  My little process isn’t hard, but it’s that waiting for the pot to boil that gets me every time!

Here’s my method to get the perfect hard-boiled egg:

  1. Put the eggs in the pot and cover them with water.
  2. Place the pot on the stove and let the water get to a rolling boil (Here’s where I get inpatient)
  3. Once at a rolling boil, set the timer for 6 minutes
  4. After 6 minutes, pull the pot off the burner and let the water cool down w/eggs in it.
  5. Once the water is at room temp, the eggs are done!

As I said, I get inpatient and begin doing something else while I’m waiting for the water to boil – like a few weeks ago.  I was distracted by getting on the computer, couldn’t hear the water boiling (surprise, surprise) and BAM, Egg Explosion!

Eggs exploded – Ruined a good pot too!

You can imagine the smell in the house!

Nothing a little incense can’t take care of!

So, at the recommendation of a friend, I decided to buy an egg boiler that you can use in the microwave.  You just set your eggs in it (with a little water), microwave for 9 minutes or so and DONE!  No more worries about eggs popping, pans burning and a horrible smell in the house.

My new microwave egg boiler – Problem solved!

Please share your kitchen mishaps so I don’t feel alone…….

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