auditory challenge, Hard of hearing, Tinnitus

New Hearing Aids

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Dear readers, after 7 faithful years I have sent my hearing aids into their retirement. They will still remain faithful as replacement devices, but in the past 7 years I have hardly used my previous replacement devices.
Yes, finally it was time. Of course I had prepared my visit to my acoustician well. I looked into the different devices of “my” brand, because it was clear to me that I would like to keep the same brand. I also wrote down my questions, wishes and needs and took them with me to the acoustician. Also my acoustician had prepared herself and after a hearing test and detailed conversation I got new hearing aids for testing.
And what a huge difference it was … Although from the same brand as my now retired hearing aids, the technology has changed so much in the past 7 years that the new hearing aids are a revelation. Not only do I hear more, especially the higher tones, but I also understand more. And I was not the only one to notice: even my husband did …
Everything sounds much clearer, as if a fog has dissolved or a wall has been freshly and newly painted.

When my in-laws visited us this weekend and we went out for dinner in a restaurant, I actually understood more of the conversations. Sure, I was still extremely tired afterwards, but that will never change, just as I never get to hear well, but a better understanding is a big gain.

The new hearing aids have built-in Bluetooth and my emotional highlight of testing was when I called my brother on my iPhone for the first time with the new hearing aids. All I had to do was to activate Bluetooth and my brother’s voice came directly into my hearing aisd without any additional accesory. It was as if I could call in a “normal” way again!
I am allowed to test these new hearing aids for a few weeks. After that I will test another pair of hearing aids and when their is a huge difference, I will test another pair of hearing aids that are level wise in between both other tested hearing aids.

As accessories I need only a Connect Clip for the connection with the PC and the main telephone, and the hearing aids will be connected via Bluetooth. And maybe a connecting device for the TV, but it might also work with the Connect Clip.
My Rogerpen can be easily connected to the new hearing aids using the MyLink receiver and that is also very important for me because I often use my Rogerpen.
Also now I can use an App on my I-Phone with which I can control the hearing aids even a little and if I would like to, I’m able to connect different other devices, for example alarm systems, the door bell and yes, even to the radio or television, in order to hear music.

Now I am especially curious how the test phase will go on, the hearing aids do need some smaller adjustments, so the sounds after putting on the hearing aids in the morning are not particularly suitable for someone with tinnitus, but at least I am very satisfied with the new technology. I’m also curious to know what the differences are with the other hearing aids yet to be tested and which one I’ll choose at the end.
I will keep you up to date here.

 

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auditory challenge, Hard of hearing, Hyperacusis, Tinnitus

“Marga hears too much!”

Hyperacusis, hypersensitivity to noise, is less well known than tinnitus, but there are many people who suffer more or less severely from it.
In this section “Marga hears too much” Marga van Hintumwill blog about her experiences with Hyperacusis regularly.

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Eat neatly, with knife and fork
Everyone has to deal with it as a toddler. After the spoon-bowl period, the inevitable follows. Learning to eat with knife and fork. Learning to eat neatly, without messing. So that your parents can show off with you outside the door. So that as an adult you can behave as such.

Learned young and done old!
Of course I have also experienced it. The juggling with plastic cutlery. With a blunt children’s knife. But I grew up, thanks to or nevertheless.

And as an adult with hyperacusis* I am happy with that life experience. I can still do it, eat with plastic fork and knife. At first I cherished our disposable plastic cutlery sets. They are not strong. The name says it all; disposable. We used it for a long time, and very carefully. Until they broke; end of exercise. But then I discovered the composite version. Intended for outdoor holidays with minimal packing. Very strong. We have been using them for a few years now and they are doing fine!

The disposable plates are immediately replaced by Mepaline versions; also very strong. Ideal! Then we can enjoy a “home cooked dinner”. Because nowadays we never go to restaurants. Far too much noise from talking dinner guests. And of metal cutlery on porcelain or earthenware. And don’t forget the “background music”. Sometimes I want to be surprised. Then there is the home-delivered variant; often more on snacklevel than healthy, but well: sometimes that’s allowed. I don’t hear the disc of five protest.

Noiseless cooking?
Nowadays I have time enough, to cook extensively. At my ease. I do that regularly. So at my ease. Because doing something quickly in the kitchen is usually noisy. And very painful in my head. So slowly with the pan, put it gently on the sink, preferably on a cloth. No food processor or mixer, but rather a mortar. That takes longer, but works fine! Especially for the mini quantities of dishes for 2 people!

Without metal?
Cooking, well, that is inevitable from metal pans. I tried to make more use of the microwave. But when I got the “I’m done!” – beep from the microwave in my ears, I was soon done with it.

Metal pans on metal pan supports. Inescapable. With glass lids with silicone edges, that makes a difference. With wooden stirring spoons, that makes a difference. And Mepaline spoons, which you don’t hear either.

Metal hasn’t left the kitchen yet, unfortunately. So I have to be careful. The occasional, inevitable, rock-hard hit, when I accidentally bump into something with a pan. Against a rock-hard counter top, where I don’t have a cloth everywhere yet. Or the sharp stinging fall of a kitchen knife on the stone floor. Aaahhhhgrrr…

With knife and fork
But when the food is ready, when we are having dinner, then Mepaline crockery, composite cutlery are very pleasant dish mates. And good food. Not always with knife and fork. Because sometimes you are allowed to eat with your hands, haha …….

* Hyperacusis, literally “I hear too much”, is a condition in which you are hypersensitive to ordinary everyday sounds. “The volume control of ambient noise is permanently set to too high a level for a person with hyperacusis.”For me, the higher frequencies are particularly annoying and hurt my head.

Hyperacusis occurs in many forms. And often also in combination with tinnitus; as is the case with me.

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auditory challenge, Hard of hearing

Museum

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Source: picture by the author

As I have mentioned here before, occasionally I have excursions with a group of hearing-impaired people. The occasions are diverse and always guided. Our group is during the tour divided into two groups, one with hearing system and the other without.
I always have my own Rogerpen with me, but if there is a hearing system available, as in this case, I use the hearing system. The guide gets the microphone and we get the receivers connected to the hearing aid (through the T-coil) or CI. Listening to the museum guide becomes so much more relaxed and even while the museum guide is talking, you can look around a little without being afraid to miss a word.

So we went to the Paul Gugelmann Museum last week. I didn’t know the museum and the name Gugelmann before and the visit to the museum was a very pleasant surprise.
In this small museum in Schönenwerd (Switzerland) there are 40 machines, each with its own theme and made with a lot of love and eye for detail. All machines can move and most of them make noises. You can see an example in the picture above.
My enthusiasm after this visit to the museum was so great that I spontaneously wantet to register as a guide in this museum because I especially like to spend time between these wonderful machines and tell others about them.

The activity as a museum guide is not completely new to me. During my studies I already did an internship in a historical museum, had to get acquainted with an exhibition, prepare and execute guided tours through the exhibition and a part of the museum.
Back then I heard better than I do today and so I naturally thought about how I should approach this today. In my opinion, openness is best here.
Inform “my” groups directly over my hearing impairment and ask them, if they have questions to make this visible, for example by raising a hand.
Also I will switch on my Rogerpen during the guidance and hold it ready on standby. If I do not understand a question after one or two repetitions, then I can hold  Rogerpen  (the microphone) in front of the questioner so that I can hear the question over my receiver more clearly.
The advantage of the Paul Gugelmann Museum is that the acoustics are good because there are no high ceilings and the rooms are not too big.

So, in the practical sense I didn’t see any objections for a job as a museum guide, once a month, and in the meantime I trusted myself to register because I had also learned that the museum could still use guides.
I was open about my hearing impairment at registration and the feedback was positive. Now I have to wait until Mr. Gugelmann himself, 89 and still active, makes contact and can introduce me to the wonderful world of his machines. I’m already looking forward to it!

 

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CI, Hard of hearing

„Remco’s journey: from hearing aid to CI“

Remco is hearing impaired, wears hearing aids and is a social worker in daily life. Recently, he is discussing a CI (Cochlear Implant). In this section, Remco writes about his process from hearing aid wearer to CI wearer.

And then there was sound …
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Last Friday the time had come. The connection of the internal part of my CI with the external part. I was going to experience if everything worked. It had been two weeks since the operation and I have gone through a quiet healing process, without any noteworthy side effects.

I only suffered from fluid accumulation but this was also a natural process. It is part of this type of surgery. Unfortunately (-; my characteristic features just remained intact and I can therefore reassure everyone. The two weeks before the connection, I did of course let my thoughts shine. What will happen and how will it be? How will it sound and will it sound at all? Will it indeed be well placed? These are all logical questions.
The guidance from the hospital was also extremely professional and at the same time human. Any questions were answered quickly and often with reassurance.

But back to last Friday. It wasn’t until late in the afternoon that I had to be in Utrecht again. I left in time not to get caught up in a web of traffic jams again and perhaps also to arrive on time. Being stress-free on the road is also nice and quiet to arrive at your destination, too.
Once in the hospital we had to wait for the doctor. This took a little longer than the planned appointment. And then, then, I was called and set off for a new hearing. A new dot on the hearing Hearizon (;. The doctor explained what was going to happen and even had a booklet ready with the script, because he didn’t know if I could hear enough.

And then he was there. Beautiful in blue. Shiny and shining, my bionic ear. He was connected to me and then the doctor spoke the magic words: ‘I’m going to turn it on’. And so it happened, he turned it on and with me the sound jumped on. Emotions attacked me but I was especially relieved and happy that it was there. The sound. In my ear. That the CI worked. And that I was no longer “deaf”. It is a different sound. Suddenly I heard things I couldn’t hear. Clicking heels on the stone floor of the hospital. The sound of a revolving door. My brain exploring. Certainly recognizing and then thinking of sounds; ‘Hey, is this sound also there on the hard disk’. At home I am now practicing with the different programs and also to turn up the sound a bit. The tuning will still take some time. It’s all about fine-tuning. The louder the sound, the louder my brain has to work and process. This takes energy and fortunately the CI can also finish it. It also takes getting used to the fact that there is no earpiece involved. But all in all I experience that it is different. That it is actually a miracle. That I can now become deaf without noticing it because my CI is my ‘new’ ear and hearing. I also feel like a child with a new toy. I make a sound to see what it does. And that time and again.

Finally, I’m already on the road again. A voyage of discovery that gets ever closer to that little dot on the HEARizon. And I’m looking forward to that because a new adventure awaits there.

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auditory challenge, Hard of hearing, Hyperacusis, Tinnitus

“Marga hears too much!”

Hyperacusis, hypersensitivity to noise, is less well known than tinnitus, but there are many people who suffer more or less severely from it.
In this section “Marga hears too much” Marga van Hintumwill blog about her experiences with Hyperacusis regularly.

Hearing aids as noise masks
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I am limited in my hearing, yes, but I am not hard of hearing, on the contrary. But I do have hearing aids, in plural. Very small, and because of their shape I call them “my hearts”. That makes you suspect that I am happy with “my hearts”. Especially in the beginning I was very happy with it. I quickly got used to their presence. But with the accompanying advice that I had to learn to take them out again, I was not happy with that. Desensitising; it sounds wonderful. Unfortunately, the reality was different.
My hearing aids were advised me to mask the tinnitus. So that I could distract my attention from it. That went very well during the day. At night it was not a success. Try to lie down on your side, on an ear, with a hearing aid. At night the radio and appjes offered a happy outcome.

Dip
So I didn’t get the hearing aids, because of a reduced hearing. Only a small dip around 4000 hrz has been diagnosed. That dip can be caused by my age, 60. And the numerous middle ear infections in my youth, which will have destroyed a large number of hair cells in my inner ear.

Shank balance
Hearing aids as tinnitus masks. They give a constant so-called “white noise”. That noise is tuned to my hearing dip. But I also had and have hyperacusis*.
If I set the noise masks very hard, they indeed mask part of the tinnitus. But then the sound of the noise masks itself causes enormous pain in my head again. And if I turn them less loudly, they don’t mask the tinnitus sufficiently. It was an unstable balance. And it still is.

My sweethearts
Because of a therapy I have followed, my tinnitus is now clearly less annoying. It’s still there,  still plays firmly every now and then. But all in all the tinnitus is doing pretty well. The withdrawal of the noise masks is now also going well. I still wear the hearing aids very little.
But completely without “my hearts”? No, that is still a bridge too far. They are too dear to me for that ! My hearts, or rather, my sweethearts …

 

* Hyperacusis, literally “I hear too much”, is a condition in which you are hypersensitive to ordinary everyday sounds. “The volume control of ambient noise is permanently set to too high a level for a person with hyperacusis.”For me, the higher frequencies are particularly annoying and hurt my head.

Hyperacusis occurs in many forms. And often also in combination with tinnitus; as is the case with me.

 

 

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CI, Hard of hearing

„Remco’s journey: from hearing aid to CI“

Remco is hearing impaired, wears hearing aids and is a social worker in daily life. Recently, he is discussing a CI (Cochlear Implant). In this section, Remco writes about his process from hearing aid wearer to CI wearer.

Operation successful, the patient is deaf …
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The day I knew that would come, Monday 17 September knocked hard on my door. On that day my operation for a CI was performed at the UMC in Utrecht (Netherlands). The day started early because I had to be in Utrecht at 09:00 hours so we decided to leave early. Despite our precautions we did not manage to get through traffic jams on the way to arrive on time.

Fortunately it didn’t matter much now. The preparations started with answering a number of questions, which I had already sent digitally before. When this was over, I got the most charming hospital outfit of this decade. If you had been there, you would hardly believe how it was like for me. Anyway, after that it was the way to the recovery room, where I underwent some tests and got questions again. Then a start was made with the infusion, the infusion with which I would be down for the duration of the operation. I was asked if this could be done by a co-assistent  (I was assured that he could do this, although he had not done it often yet) and for me this was not a problem. What was a problem, finding a suitable vein to insert the infusion. No matter how they pulled and knocked, my veins had disappeared under the radar. At first a vein was found but it was not possible to insert the infusion in it. After a while a second attempt succeeded.

The doctors came to exchange some last details and shortly after that I went down. It all seemed surrealistic, a futuristic environment with operating rooms in a kind of vault. I jumped on the operating table and got a mask on. I looked upstairs and suddenly it became blurred and green in front of my eyes and I was sunk into a deep sleep. About three hours later I woke up at the recovery and got an ice cream for my sore throat. It felt like there had been a steamroller crushing for hours. Gradually I became more and more awake and soon I got to talk again. In this case, I talked for two. I was impatient too and I wanted to see my sweetheart. She had been waiting all this time. And waiting is not really her thing. Eventually the redeeming phone call was made to the ward and I could be picked up.

And there I went, on my way to the ward. My sweetheart was picked up and when she entered the ward, she was radiant as always. I got a sandwich with coffee and then I asked for the same again. The doctor came by to say that the operation had been successful and that as far as he was concerned, I could go home. The last details had to be filled in and then I got the green light from the department to go home. At home I worked quietly on my recovery and let the wound heal. Luckily I had no noteworthy side effects and especially took some rest.
Now the stitches went out last Thursday and last Saturday, after more than two weeks, I could finally wash my hair again. A nice feeling.

On October 12th the CI is connected and rehabilitation starts in the form of adjustments and speech therapy. Until that time it will be: the operation is successful but the patient is deaf …

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auditory challenge, Hard of hearing

“Job: searched and found …”

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In this new section I will regularly write about the topic “work” myself, or invite guest bloggers. The aim of this section is to approach “work and hearing impairment” in an open and versatile way, to show the bottlenecks and positive sides.

In my blog I sometimes use to write about people with hearing impairment and their challenges in finding a job or at work.
There are people with a hearing impairment who see no or few challenges in finding a job or in the workplace.
There are people with a hearing impairment who feel somewhat challenged about “work” and people who feel particularly challenged.
Of course, the first question that arises is: what makes the difference? Why do some people manage to easily find and/or keep a job? Why do some manage it with difficulty and some hardly or not at all? Of course, this question cannot be answered unequivocally, because it is usually not only the auditory challenge that plays a role.

About the many reasons why it is often more difficult for people with an auditory challenge to find a job is already much written and also I have already written about it https://hardofhearingweb.wordpress.com/2016/06/19/good-work/. They are all good reasons not to deny and not to underestimate.
Today, however, I would like to shed light on a reason that you almost never get to read, but that is still more important.
And this reason is called: How does one stand to its hearing impairment, how independent and self-confident is the hearing-impaired job seeker or employee?

In the 15 years that I have been active professionally and otherwise in the world of hearing-impaired people, one thing has become particularly clear to me from the beginning: the more self-conscious the hearing-impaired person is, the further he or she will go in private and working life.
If you are self-conscious about your hearing impairment, this is not a guarantee that you will not face challenges, but self-confidence is a good prerequisite to achieve a goal, for example, acquiring a job.
If one is “self-conscious”, one knows better one’s own strength and weakness, one can orient oneself also better on a suitable job or training and, just as importantly, one can present oneself in the application process as well.

Employers like to see employees or job candidates who know what they need, know what they want and why they want to work exactly in this job or at this company. For employers, the main thing is that they hire the right person for the right job, matching their company. And if the candidate, hearing impaired or not, cannot convey the message that he or she is this person, he or she will hardly stand a chance.
And that’s where the shoe usually pinches for a hearing impaired person! A hearing impairement often brings with it uncertainty, which can impair self-confidence. Uncertainty about one’s own talents, whether one can do a job or not dare to emphasize one’s own strength in the application process.

If  you think about how one could bring potential employers and hearing-impaired job seekers closer together, above all the self-consciousnes should stand in the foreground.
Employers should look more at what an applicant can do, rather than focusing on what an applicant can’t do.
Hearing impaired applicants should also become more aware of what skills they do have instead of what they cannot. And if they find it difficult to find out for themselves, they might ask for some help with that.

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