“And I heard her whisper”: a story of hearing loss

As I mentioned in my post Kickstarter: a data analysis exercise, I am a guitarist.

So, basically, my life surrounds the following: (Please note, I chose an unordered list…for convenience purposes as I write in MarkDown…but this could, just as easily, be an ordered list.)

And, in all of these circumstances, I began to notice a problem.

  • A Television that was, perhaps, a bit loud at times
  • Missing things said by my daughter
  • Missing things said at the other end of the table in meetings
  • Difficulty at Meetups, etc that prevented actually engaging with folk in discussion
  • Minor frustration that everyone else in the world mumbled

And, as you can imagine, it is obvious that this is the result of some measure of hearing loss. I’ve stood next to a drum-kit and amplifier for years…no surprise, right?

And so I searched in the Denver area for an audiologist that was both independent and would work with my insurance provider (a non-trivial task). I was lucky enough to happen upon an independent provider (i.e. not sponsored/run by a manufacturer) who also replied to e-mail in a decent time frame…which is very important to me.

After numerous tests, my expectation/fear was confirmed. But in a different way than I had expected…

My hearing loss is not “normal”…not that any is…it is not the loss pattern resultant from exposure to loud music. Rather, I have some measure of loss across all frequencies (rather than just high-end) and is a bit worse in the lower frequencies. Likely something I have had since birth…and worth of attempting to use a corrective device to help address.

And, so, I spent the most money I have ever spent on an amplifier.

This amplifier works in stereo, sits in/behind my ear, and has an amazing set of DSP controls, via the computer programming interface, to amplify specific frequencies. They are the Siemes Pure series (the 501, I believe) which means that as my hearing changes over time this same set of devices will be appropriate.

Is it worth it?

As I sat in the office to be fit for the hearing aid, Mr. Mowry (a gentleman and scholar) turned them on/off and changed settings. Let me hear the fan in the background, etc. And then, he asked Gabriella Lirit (age 5) to stand behind me and whisper.

I couldn’t understand her.

And then he turned on the hearing aids…and I heard her whisper

I love you Daddy

And I wept…

They are worth it. The expense, although onerous, is worth it to prevent my ability to process sounds from being further degraded. I can hear in meetings, I can hear on conference calls (in most situations), restaurants are less intimidating.

I can hear the whisper of a 5 year old…and that is well worth the expense. We told each other secrets the first night I wore them, and I wasn’t just smiling and nodding…I was participating.

Is it all roses?

Not quite. But neither did I expect it to be. As my 5 year old keeps reminding me…

Write down what’s wrong Daddy. Then Mr. Mowry will help you fix it. And maybe I can go with and get another piece of candy.

Altruistic that one, eh?

The “music” programme doesn’t quite work…yet.
Using a cell phone isn’t ideal (as the microphones are behind the ear)
I tend to listen to music in the office and keeping the aids in with my IEMs isn’t ideal

But all these things can be tweaked…all can be changed…I expect that, over the next several visits to the audiologist, they will be improved or strategies developed for those situations.

But, most importantly, I heard Gabriella whisper…and I understood her

Any advice for others?

If you suspect hearing loss, go and get checked now. Hearing Aids are not magic, they are just highly sophisticated devices to address specific frequency amplification based on individual hearing loss (although I admit to being intrigued by the compression algorithms).

I can unequivocally recommend the folk I worked with.

Professional Hearing Services in Lakewood, Colorado is run by an excellent staff. I have had the pleasure of interacting with Jeff Baller, Au.d., CCC-A and Dick Mowry, M.S., M.PH., CCC-A.

Their professionalism, and care for my unique requirements/thoughts, made the difference in my experience. I look forward to maintaining a relationship with their business as long as they, or I, remain in Colorado.

December 19, 2011

Comments are closed.