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[personal profile] outsidetheparty
So I got these hearing aids.

They are inch-long plastic triangles that sit on top of my ears, each with a long and fairly stiff wire molded to reach from there down to my ear canal, ending (at some depth for which I have not yet determined the optimum value) in a tiny bead-like speaker. Each tiny speaker, unfortunately, is capped by a big floppy disposable silicone wedge designed to cork up the ear from the outside world, and as an earwax shield. These tickle and at the end of the day itch, and often cause an underwater why-won't-my-ears-pop sensation.

They have a startup chime. It starts playing after a short delay, to give you time to stuff the hearing aids in first. I get a certain nerdy glee out of listening to it. The box they came in is clearly designed with those gearhead "unboxing" videos in mind. They are shockingly expensive.

There was some cognitive dissonance the day I went to put my ipod headphones in my ears only to be reminded that there was already something in there.

I honestly cannot decide whether they are helping me hear better or not. Things certainly sound different -- when the doctor first turned them on the difference was startling -- but I can never judge, when somebody says something that I don't quite catch, whether it's because the hearing aids aren't doing enough or the person was just inaudible or even if I'd be able to hear it better without these chunks of plastic in my ears. When I wear them I am more conscious of background noises, birdsong or fan noise or whatever's going on, but whether that is a good sign or a bad one I am not equipped to say.

I have 60 days to make up my mind (before I lose the option to get most of my money back for returning them. Insurance? No. Personal check.)

Date: 2009-07-16 01:19 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] kassrachel.livejournal.com
I wonder whether it's the sort of thing where, as your brain gets used to the new input, it will be able to process that input better? I read a book once about cochlear implants where that was true, but I have no idea whether or not it is true with something external like a hearing aid. [livejournal.com profile] bayleaf will probably know. *g*

In any event, I am fascinated!

Date: 2009-07-16 04:39 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] outsidetheparty.livejournal.com
Yeah, there's definitely some adjustment over time, both to the physical "there's a thing in my ear" sensation and to the audio. I also need to try them in more situations -- a big crowded party would be ideal...

Date: 2009-07-16 04:24 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] ellinor.livejournal.com
They are shockingly expensive, aren't they? But I'm glad you've made the step to try them. My mother once predicted (and dreamed of) a generation that wasn't self-conscious about hearing aids, and this is just a little example of that that makes me happy.

As for their effect, naturally [livejournal.com profile] bayleaf would know more, but I gather this is a pretty common reaction to hearing aids, and that your brain and ears will adjust somewhat -- I watched mom take days (or more) to get accustomed to a new tuning -- but if they're not amplifying the right tones to make it easier to hear speech, they might need retuning.

Best of luck with them!

Date: 2009-07-16 04:48 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] outsidetheparty.livejournal.com
I don't feel self-conscious about them at all -- if anything I wish they were a little bigger, so they could've included a volume knob and an off switch. I think with so many people running around wearing those bluetooth headsets all the time, hearing aids hardly register as unusual.

Shockingly expensive is the word. It's like, yeah, I think they're helping, but are they helping $3000 worth? For that much money I want them to be able to do more stuff -- noise cancellation would be cool, or, like, simultaneous translation or something. They ought to be able to play MP3s at the very least.

Date: 2009-07-16 05:41 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] shgb.livejournal.com
real-time translation would be awesome... and for that money, they really should support bluetooth, that would open up all sorts of possibilities.

I never really thought of hearing as being so much more complex than vision, and yet you can go from almost blind to near-perfect vision with a $50 pair of glasses, but spending $3000 for hearing aids apparently doesn't produce the same obvious result.

Date: 2009-07-16 05:58 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] outsidetheparty.livejournal.com
There actually are bluetooth-enabled hearing aids; I'm planning to ask the doctor about them next week (the things I still seem to have the most trouble with are understanding what people are saying on TV and on the telephone; if I can hook those up to bluetooth transmitters and control the volume for myself, that might be worth some extra money... plus the idea of possibly being able to listen to my ipod through the hearing aids gives me some Nerd Joy.)

That's a good analogy with the cost of glasses; I hadn't thought of it that way. Lenses are certainly less complex than hearing aids, but still I wonder how much of the expense is just because it's a "medical" device -- really all it is is a very fancy pair of headphones hooked up to a miniaturized equalizer; it's really hard to see how the price tag is justified.

Date: 2009-07-16 08:40 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] ellinor.livejournal.com
There is also an FM attachment that you can add to some hearing aids that you can hook up to transmitters for the telephone, the television, and a microphone (which you can, for example, put on the podium when you're at a presentation and can't sit up close) -- but I gather that it's also shockingly expensive and not compatible with all hearing aids. Frankly, bluetooth sounds like a better idea. I don't think it existed when my mother got the FM.

I love the idea of simultaneous translation and mp3s.

completely OT

Date: 2009-07-21 01:49 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] entrochan.livejournal.com
I can't find your email address. Can you send it to me?

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