Cleft Lip and Palate · facial difference · hearing

I Got A Hearing Aid

I’m the proud owner of a hearing aid. I finally bit the bullet and bought one. I like it very much. My hearing continued to decrease, while my tinnitus decided to increase. I was left with no other choice. I had had more than enough close calls walking across the street, or with people coming up on my side and scaring the crap  out of me. Life just didn’t feel safe.

All of this started with what I thought was an ear infection to what has now graduated into hearing loss, pain on the right side of the face and ear, tingling, numbness, weird, uncontrollable facial spasming on one side of my face, and difficulty chewing because of the pain. The worst thing, and the thing that continues to be my undoing, is the tinnitus.

If you don’t know what tinnitus is you consider yourself blessed. When I tell people I have people tinnitus they often ask what it is. Then like a schmuck at an auto repair shop performing that “sound his car makes” for the mechanic, I try to squeal as high as the frequency in my ear, or I play the toner on my Cleartune app. Almost always people say, “It’s like that all the time,” to which I reply “Yes.”

In the last three weeks the tinnitus has worsened, gotten louder and sometimes even throws out another frequency, attempting to harmonize with itself, albeit very, very poorly. Other symptoms from the last three weeks include, facial spasms. Like really wacky face spasms that I can not control all that well. Most of the day I expend an enormous amount of energy to keep it from happening. Then I get in the car to go home from work and let my face get it’s groove on to whatever music I’m listening to that day. We do agree on one thing, my facial spasms and I, “Hotel California” by the Eagles is a terrible song.

The tinnitus, hearing loss, and bouncing face  are all a bit too much too handle so I thought I would take it easy (sarcasm) and start using a highly technical hearing aid. It is composed of a two pieces, a receiver shaped like a pen, and corresponding in-ear device.

It took some doing to get used to it. The pen receiver has a carrying case made of leather. Someone asked me if it was a knife because of the little leather jacket it wears.  No. Thanks for playing, though.  Shelly, show them what they didn’t win. Or others have taken the more direct approach of asking “what is that?” I answer honestly, saying it is a receiver for the hearing aid you cannot see in my right ear.

The receiver picks up the sound and directs it to the ear piece.  The receiver, or pen, is best used if placed out on a table aimed at someone speaking.  There is no discreet way of doing this, but I have devised a few. I leave it on my desk in my office, I hold it like a pen in my hand, and I put it in my purse or pocket if on the go. It helps tremendously in overriding the high pitched squeal in my right ear.

It has also improved my ability to watch TV. I love to eat and watch tv.  I can do that now without the volume being on 20-24 on the TV volume meter.  The home hearing test for my parents and I to gauge how badly we hear by the number volume ranking is on a particular channel.  Such statements such as “Tonight I’m an NBC 10” or “I’m a NESN 20” are common parlance amongst  us. Now, I can watch whatever I want, including the super quiet Netflix dramas on five or seven with the receiver sitting at the base of the tv speaker system.

In a setting with lots of people around, I feel more balanced out, as if there is sound entering both ears. Unfortunately though I have to point the pen in the direction of whomever may be so lucky to speak to me. I do not want to look like a television news reporter getting the  “man on the street” perspective, I keep the pen in my pocket or my purse. I usually pick up the noise of my shirt moving around or it rubbing up against the items in my bag. Thus defeating the purpose of wearing it. I end up blindly agreeing to things that I hope do not get me or someone else in trouble.  Often I worry that I have said “Yes” to questions like “Would you kill someone for me?” Or “Do you like the Eagles’ “Hotel California?” More than anything, I hope the latter has not happened

The other cool thing about it is I can leave the room and still hear what’s happening in the room I just left. If the receiver happens to have been left behind, I’m hoping at some point to hear some juicy gossip or some stuff talked about me “behind my back.” It has not happened yet. I will keep you posted.

The sound transmitted is tinny and hollow sounding. However, this was the best of the three or four hearing aids I tried. The garden variety version your grandmother has that just goes in your ear amplified everything. With the pen, I have some control over how loud or whom I get to listen to. It is nice. The Bone-Anchored Hearing Aid, or (BAHA) was not a fit because I already have solid bone condition and I did not love how it felt. I do know that BAHA is a great hearing aids for a great many people in the craniofacial community. It’s just not my jam.

One would think that in 2017 with the advent of $1,000+ headphones and beats by Dre that the world could come up with a better hearing aid. Unfortunately, this is not try. However, if there were ever a person to get the mix, tone, and warmth of sound right, I strongly believe it would be Dr. Dre. I say this after listening to some of his music over the years, but mostly because I watched HBO’s The Defiant Ones. So get on it Dre, please. Don’t leave money on the table! These devices are not cheap.






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