Back in January I had a hearing aid fitted after getting fed up of Mrs Sane complaining about me not being able to hear her finally going to get my hearing tested.
The difference it made was astounding – I hadn’t realised how bad my hearing had got. But it did leave me a bit lopsided hearing-wise because the hearing in both my ears is pretty crap, albeit worse on one side than the other.
So I went back to the hospital a week and a bit ago to get a second hearing aid to balance things up and get the T-Loop added to the one I’d already got because it never occurred to me when I said I wouldn’t need to use it how I would use the phone at work!
The second hearing aid isn’t turned up as loud as the first one because my hearing isn’t as bad in the other ear but I can hear at the same volume in both ears and I can tell where sound is coming from again. The T-Loop is also a great invention – I first tried it in the local Co-op and it was pretty amazing to walk up to the counter and be greeted with no sound other than the voice of the girl behind the till.
My desk phone at work has an induction loop in the handset which means I can hear everything loud and clear through the loop in my hearing aid. Sadly my work mobile (HTC Wildfire S) doesn’t work with the loop but I’m sure they’ll replace it with one that does. My HTC Desire worked with it once but I think the amount of times I dropped it must have broken the loop. Luckily it was due for upgrade so the very helpful people at the Three shop in Telford helped me find a new phone that works with my hearing aids, letting me try out lots of different phones until I found the best sound quality (Sony Xperia S).
There are a couple of big problems using mobile phones with hearing aids. The main one is trying to use a phone without a loop – I don’t have those jelly moulds you see on old peoples’ hearing aids, I have a “tulip” end on my hearing aid which disappears into my ear and is barely visible. It also blocks my ear and if your ear is blocked you can’t hear properly (or less properly than usual). Using a phone without a loop means removing my hearing aid and turning the volume up which is hardly convenient.
The other big problem is using a phone with a poor quality loop. They produce lots of noise – so much noise that it’s hard to make out what’s being said at the other end. The Xperia is great with the loop, giving a really clear sound quality as long as the Wi-Fi is turned off otherwise it can be a bit noisy. The new HTC One was OK but not great.
It’s not easy getting used to hearing aids but it’s worth the effort. Itchy ears are a particularly annoying problem, especially if you’ve got sausage fingers like me that just won’t fit down your ear hole! I find that regular cleaning with a baby wipe helps but sometimes you’ve just got to ignore everything that was drummed into you as a child about not sticking things in your ear and have a good scratch with something blunt.
Another annoying problem for me (and I suspect this will only affect you if your hearing aid is amplifying higher pitched sounds) is what beeping things like the microwave, the oven timer, alarms on TV programmes and the chime on clocks do to the hearing aids. Apart from being very loud, it makes the sound distorted and tinny on the hearing aid for a good 30 seconds after it’s stopped, like it’s been overloaded and it needs to sort itself out. And I can’t even begin to describe what a fork scraping on a plate sounds like.
Despite the little annoyances, getting these hearing aids has been a really positive thing. They’re so discrete that most people don’t even notice them. It doesn’t help me to hear in really noisy places like a hall full of chattering people or a train station but in most situations it’s made a real improvement. I don’t know how fast my hearing is deteriorating – I guess we’ll find out next time I have a hearing test – but I can already sign a bit so I’m well prepared!