Sunday, November 18, 2007

Phonak, update

I am still getting used to my new HA's. We attempted, again, to see a movie, last night. Once again AMC Theaters failed me. The CC did NOT work. It was kind of frustrating. This time, however, we remained at the theater and watched the film. I just did not think it was fair to make my husband miss the movie. It was, thankfully, a slow moving dialogue movie so I was able to make sense of most of it. But it was a TERRIBLE movie -- Lions for Lambs. It had these really good actors but the script was terrible and the story was terrible. Everything was so heavily stereotyped, the story line was complety hyperbole, and it masqueraded as a left wing bourgouis academia/intelligentsia film. Ugh. Do not waste your money on it.

We did not waste our money on it (just our time). We had used two free passes to see it, which we had gotten when the CC did not work the last time. This time we earned FOUR free passes. Of course, those passes are useless if the CC does not work!!

I love these new aids. I went to a couple of shul functions over the weekend. It was noisy, but I could hear! I could carry on real conversations and follow those of others. Way cool!!

Dinner time, now, I made eggplant parm. Yumm.

Thursday, November 15, 2007

Day two, Phonak

Ok, day two was yesterday. What I noticed: I am definitely able to hear better in noisy situations. The hearing aids compress ambient noise and surrounding noise very well, and yet allow me to hear speech, in conversational settings. We went out to a noisy restaurant for dinner last night -- and I was able to hear and converse. I even heard the waitress!

Day three is today: I am getting more used to the phone. I do find that if I use the HA's in full telecoil mode works best and even better if I turn BOTH HA's to full telecoil mode. I really do better eliminating surrounding sounds. But, I do not see a humongous improvement, yet, in phone use. It may be that I need some tweaking of the program.

This morning I rode in on the bus with a friend and I was able to hear her really well.

This is cool.

Tuesday, November 13, 2007

Phonak, no, phone, ACK!!!

So, today I went again to the audiologist, whose name is Jobe Schwartz, by the way. She is cool. Anyway, she gave me two new hearing aids to try, called Phonak. They are incredibly expensive -- $4800. And of course, insurance does NOT cover them. (If anyone out there would like to contribute to my hearing aid fund we would be most grateful! Email me at for details on how to do so.). So, I am going to try them out for two weeks. Jobe asked me to keep track of what I am hearing and what not so I am going to use my blog here to do that.

First, she puts them on and makes a series of adjustments to them via a computer program. These are digital hearing aids -- and POWER digital aids -- I think the first of this kind. I have tried digital aids in the past but had not been too happy with them. I found that I simply could never get enough volume with them. I had been begging for power digital aids but until now I had not been aware of any. These ARE power aids, let me tell you. I have been hearing sound ALL day. It sounds like there are airplanes flying overhead constantly. But it was not unpleasant, nor did it interfere with my hearing. Also these hearing aids have a program called "EZPhone". EZPhone works by automatically detecting the magnet of a phone receiver pressed up against the ear and automatically turning on the hearing aids' telecoil which is the part of the aid that enables hearing on telephones. This is not 100% foolproof as it may not always detect the magnet so there is a button that allows one to manually turn on the telecoil. Now, there are basically 3 modes of hearing aid use: normal, normal/telephone, or telephone only. For me, personally, I have always preferred to use the telephone only mode when on the phone. I have always had a problem with hearing on the phone if I can also hear the noise around me. In the telecoil only mode, I would hear ONLY what the person on the other end of the phone was saying and not the noise around me at my end. (Of course, now with cell phones that are so sensitive that they pick up every little sound, that problem has returned.) Anyway, the default EZPhone program is a mixed normal/telecoil program and that did not work for me. So, I asked Jobe if it were possible to change the EZPhone program to automatically detect and switch to full telecoil mode. She was not sure but she called Phonak, and lo and behold! - Yes, it was possible. Phonak told her how to do it and it was done. So now, the phone rings, I pick it up and put it to my ear -- and I can hear on the phone. I no longer have to turn my hearing aid switch to telecoil first. COOL.

The thing is, I used to also turn the other hearing aid off when I was on the phone. But this time, I decided to see what would happen if I use the phone, with 1 hearing aid in full telecoil mode and the other in full normal mode. Well, it seemed to be fine. But I did not use the phone a whole lot today. We will see how it works tomorrow.

I listened to a music CD in the car. It was not so great -- for some reason the compression feature of the hearing aids kept kicking in and I would keep experiences moments of "dead time" -- like the sound of silence when a radio station suddenly loses its signal or simply stops broadcasting. I am going to watch that. With my old hearing aids (Sumo) they would compress when I would take the subway or walk the streets (of Manhattan) but these hearing aids did not do that at those times.

Soon, I am going to watch TV. I am going to experiment with watching without CC but I do not have high hopes for that. But I am keeping and open mind (and ears...)

Good night!

Monday, November 12, 2007

Am I hearing things?

So, I went, finally, to the audiologist. She tested my hearing and there has been a slight degeneration of my hearing but only very slight.

So, to my surprise she said that I would most definitely be considered a candidate for a cochlear implant. And now that I know that I am scared. At this time I am pursuing new hearing aids and am going to get a bluetooth adaptor called the Eli. I am also going to get a CapTel phone to see how that works for me.

I AM going to ask to speak with someone about the cochlear implantation and find out if my insurance covers it.

If anyone can guide me with this I would be most appreciative.

I had a really negative experience last night. First, a slight backtrack: I used to go to movies with my husband but over the past couple of years I have been extremely reluctant to do so as I find I miss so much. Now that I use closed captioning I really cannot do without it. Now, of course some theaters offer a CC device, which is actually called "Rear Window captioning". I had never tried it in the past, assuming 1) it would not be particularly good, and 2) it would effectively single me out. Welll, both my assumptions were sort of right. The device works reasonably well but on screen captioning would be MUCH better. Or some way of having the captioning superimposed on the screen for me. And yes, it DOES single me out, no way out of that. Additionally, the choice of films to see and theaters with captioning is far more limited than simply going to any film at any theater. I have to find a film I like that is playing in a theater with the CC set up.

So, last night we went to the Garden State 16 to see We Own the Night. This is a brand new theater with 16 films playing at any given time and only 3 films will have CC -- and not all at the same time. We entered the theater and I adjusted the plexiglass reflector until I could clearly see the words, "Please adjust your rear glass reflector" or something to that effect. We sat through all the LOUD commercials (that kind of volume is just NOISE to me, I cannot make sense of any of it), and all the, also LOUD, coming attractions. Finally, the movie starts. No CC. I wait through the beginning credits. No CC. I give it 5 full minutes into the film. No CC. That message remains the same. I go out and get a manager. I am told not to worry they will get it up and running. I go back, sit down. Five full minutes later -- No CC. I wait another five minutes. No CC. I get up again, get the manager, who says they will fix it. I go back, wait five minutes. No CC. By now I am ready to cry. It is not like we can go to a different film or theater. it is now too late for that and I cannot sit through this film. And I have to ask my husband who can very well enjoy the film without CC to leave with me. I HATE this. WHY can't they simply have CC in ALL the theaters??? What is the effen big deal???


Friday, November 2, 2007

Finally, a move on to better hearing

Just a quick note: I have an appointment this coming Monday at Hackensack University Medical Center Speech and Hearing Center for an audiological exam/review. I will be assessed for new hearing aids, and also, perhaps, for my candidacy for a cochlear implant. This will be interesting. If I get new hearing aids (most likely scenario) I want them to be bluetooth equipped/enabled. I will post updates here as I have them...

Also, watch this spot for my Dating Tales of the City...

Shabbat Shalom!