One of the most common accidents with hearing aids is a pet thinking it’s lunch.*
If you Google the phrase “pets eating hearing aids,” you will find endless articles and pet shaming photographs detailing this horror. No matter how often I read these stories however, I never believed it would happen to me. Throughout my life as a hearing aid user, I never had problems with my dog, Daisy, or my cat, Greta, going near my hearing aids. I could leave them on my bureau every night and know they will be in the same place the next morning. Although Greta and Daisy were senior animals when I received my Audèo V, both of them were in the prime of their youth at ages eight and three, respectively, when I received my first hearing aids at age 12. I was lucky that even then, they never once mistook my hearing aid for a meal.
My views on pet behavior around hearing aids, however, changed when I started taking live-in pet sitting jobs at age twenty-two when I met a cat named Neeley.
There are very few places in life where I actively feel my disability. With an Audeo V riding in my right ear, amplifying the world’s sounds, I can almost feel “normal” when I am around other people. Conversation has its difficulties, but usually most people are accommodating in a large crowd. Often, the participants will even say “Oh, no one can hear in a crowd like this anyway.” We all laugh and enjoy the evening, mostly filled with jokes, and the occasional drink.
One place where I consistently feel my hearing loss, however, is when my dad asks if I want to take a ride on the boat. Any time I go near water, I have to leave my hearing aid at home. Most hearing aids are not water proof, and my model is incredibly sensitive to even the slightest drop of moisture. At the beach, I can still pose as “normal” because I spend so much time body surfing over the waves until I am carried back to shore.
In the hull of a Sunfish, however, I cannot pretend my loss does not exist because I have no hearing aid to help me sail across the sea. As I put on my life vest and help my dad take the boat into the water, however, the dizziness accompanying my loss is accompanied by embarrassment. The only other children who sail with their parents are ones who do not yet know how to sail themselves. By the time they are twelve, they can man Optis and Sunfish by themselves.
Everyone else my age has been sailing on their own for years. Seeing as I am one of the few who still sails with a parent, I cannot help but feel ashamed, even when I know I should not. At this point in my life, I have opted not to sail altogether. Continue reading “Missing the Boat”
As a social media community manager, I get to talk to a lot of people about their hearing loss. It’s been amazing to hear people’s stories – whether it’s a mom sharing an Instagram video from the first time her child’s hearing aids turned on, or a post about how new technologies are allowing a hearing aid wearer to enjoy sounds in situations they never before thought possible.
While most of my interactions have been virtual, the raw emotions are still there. I still feel a closeness with anyone whom I can answer a question for or connect them with our community of people facing similar hearing situations.
A few weeks ago, however, I had the opportunity to go offline and connect with a Phonak user in person, during filming for the new Phonak Virto V custom hearing aid testimonial video.
When I first met Josef, I was immediately warmed by his presence. His friendly demeanor and grandfatherly characteristics makes him someone you could sit down with for hours and listen to the stories he could share from his 81 years of life.
Imagine a world where every newly constructed building would include accommodations for those with hearing loss, including acoustically-friendly designs, captioning and the latest hearing assistive technology.
While it seems like a lofty goal, one 16-year-old from California is encouraging his community to do just that.
Johnny Butchko knows too well what it’s like to not be able to understand people in public spaces.
“Every day that I am in school I have difficulty hearing in the halls, the cafeteria and the courtyards, because there is a lot of background noise,” he said.
Johnny was born severe-to-profoundly deaf. Equipped with Phonak Naida Q 50 UP hearing aids, he uses an FM system and captioning in the classroom, and a caption phone at home, but in public spaces, the feeling of being lost in translation is all too common.
If you’re active on social media, you probably have a list of hashtags you use when sharing photos about hearing loss. #HearingLoss, of course, #LifeIsOn – the official Phonak hashtag – and others such as #hardofhearing #deafkidsrock and #hearingaids. One hashtag campaign, however, recently gained international attention, with the important message: #ShowYourAids.
The #ShowYourAids social media campaign exploded this summer thanks to one young woman, Emma Rudkin, who knows from experience how tough it can be to wear hearing aids proudly.
Emma, a 19-year-old Texas native and this year’s Miss San Antonio, started the social media movement and non-profit, Aid The Silent, to raise awareness and support for the deaf community.
I talked with her about the #ShowYourAids movement and how she gained the courage to show off her Phonak hearing aids.
Anybody who asked me about biology six years ago would know my unwavering response: “I hate biology and can’t wait for it to be over!”
Biology started strong with top grades, but within a month they started declining — a consistent trend in my science classes between ages twelve and sixteen, due to an increase in class pace and my hearing loss worsening. The teacher would use strange words I could not inference and lecture while drawing on the blackboard. The strain to hear in such circumstances often ended in migraine headaches.
I thought junior year would be free from this trend, after my surgeon declared me “cured” with the success of my ninth surgery. When it turned out not to be, I blamed my poor performance on simply being stupid, until I realized that my teacher’s voice fell right within my worse frequencies. The migraines should have been a dead giveaway, considering they had a knack for arriving right in the middle of biology class. Denial and my fear of permanent disability kept me from admitting I could not hear, causing me to not get a hearing aid until after biology came to an end.
Fast forward to the year after I graduated from college; I opened an invitation to my high school reunion, initially thinking that I did not want to go. My mind changed, however, when I saw the one of the classes alumni would be able to visit: “Ms. Warren: Biology.” Continue reading “The Before and After of Biology Class”
Everyone with a hearing challenge has a phone story.
I knew from my very first hearing aid that the phone was going to be a problem. The technology at the time included a phone program that worked if I was in the right location with my head cocked at a 27 degree angle facing east during the new moon. Static was a persistent by-product.
The audiologist will tell you many things when you get your first hearing aid. Keep it dry and don’t wear it with wet hair. Put it in a desiccating box, and change the gel packs every six weeks. Blue stickers mean the left ear, and red stickers mean the right. Come back once a year to get it re-adjusted to your latest decibel range. Cover it up to keep from getting sweaty during sports practice. Always leave your hearing aid at home when going to the beach. Clean off the wax as often as you can so the microphone does not get clogged. No one can hear anything if their hearing aid is full of wax.
Absent from this long list of warnings are instructions on how to proceed through the infamous dating game with a hearing loss.
Maybe it’s because I’m a newbie (less than three years) hearing aid wearer with mild-to-medium hearing loss, but this has been a subject of continued annoyance for me.
Of course, my batteries aren’t falling out of my hearing aids when I’m wearing them. No, they tend to fall out when stuffing them into pockets, bags, drying boxes, jewellery boxes, and all the other various places I put them (shhh I know it’s bad) when I take them out of my ears. Which happens, because I like my deafness when I’m alone at home, don’t need extra volume on noisy fellow travellers when I’m in public transport, and use my earbuds quite a bit for phone, music, and podcasts.
In any case, even if I don’t change my nasty habits, it seems that now that I’m carrying these V90s my battery-falling-out days are over. Look at the photograph closely (it’s not easy to photograph, and easy to miss):
September was a special month for me. As a basketball fan, I was eager to go home every evening and follow the Basketball World Cup in Spain. On September 9th, Slovenia was playing the USA in the second game of the quarter finals. Although I’m a supporter of the French national team, every basketball enthusiast looks forward to watching Team USA and its constellation of NBA superstars display their high-flying skills on the hardwood.
However, this time around it wasn’t the thunderous dunks of James Harden and Anthony Davis that caught my eye, but an unknown member of the Slovenian team who was wearing a headband. Wearing a headband isn’t anything unusual in our sport but in this particular case I was surprised to notice that it was helping the player hold hearing aids behind his ears. Something that wouldn’t have struck me prior to working for Phonak.