auditory challenge, Hard of hearing

Ode (to my hearing aids)

Hörgeräte
Source: http://de.freeimages.com/photo/hearing-impaired-1307604

Dear hearing aid, when we first met, it wasn’t love at first sight. You were small and alone, but I didn’t really want you. Our cooperation was not from the heart in the beginning. I did carried you, and you did your best to let me hear better. But somehow I also felt blocked by you. For example, when I had to run to the train or otherwise hurry, it was as if you wanted to stop me. Meanwhile I know that this was my own resistance against you, I had not yet accepted you in my life.
Later, you became even smaller in the meantime, you got company from the hearing aid in the other ear. Even then our relationship wasn’t quite cordial, although I already realized then that I couldn’t go on without you. I would rather call it a hate-love relationship now.

When my hearing gradually decreased even more, you grew. You were no longer in my ear, but behind it and, to be honest, I found you ugly. Not fair, I know you had to work much harder for me and ultimately gave your best. Nevertheless, I began to appreciate you a little more, because I was now sure that I could no longer function properly without you.
When little by little I saw what additional devices you could connect to, it became clear to me: I need you. With you life is much better and easier.
In this process, you were the more sensible one: you let everything go over you and never protested. And you have always done what you could do best: support me as much as possible.

Yes, yes, you think maybe I didn’t notice your great loyalty and reliability and I din’t care. But you have it wrong, dear hearing aid!
You will never become my great love, but hate for you will certainly no longer exist and I have learned to accept you. You are now part of my life. From the moment I wake up and activate you until the moment I put you to rest when I go to sleep, you work for me and you are my second ear. You are faithful, almost never let me down and I try to take care of you as best I can. That’s the deal we have.
There will hardly be a better relationship between us, but I would like to tell you something: Thank you hearing aid that you exist and thank you for everything you do for me. I couldn’t live without you anymore and I hope we will be a couple for a long time.

 

NB: the original text has been published in German on 27/11/2015

 

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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 Hintum will blog about her experiences with Hyperacusis regularly.

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APK for a hyperacusist
More than 3 years ago I followed therapy for tinnitus and hyperacusis* at Erasmus MC in Rotterdam. An intensive therapy. Partly in a group, partly individually. To start with there was a course day in a group. We received a lot of information and got a folder full of advice and tips we went home with it. A tiring day, because of the group structure. And the course day was held in a room with climate control. Two factors, which are not particularly favourable for hyperacusians. In the months that followed I had a number of individual conversations.
Your car goes to the garage every now and then, for the apk, the annual vehicle inspection. That’s a must, from the National Road Traffic Agency. Now, after 3 years, I thought it was time for an apk. So I approached the Tinnitus team, Audiology department of the ENT-poli. A mouth full. I was allowed to come for a follow-up appointment.

Registration columns
And so my sweetheart and I went to the brand new part of Erasmus MC in Rotterdam. The clinics had just moved to that part of the city. Everything was brand new. From the parking garage we entered a huge hall. With a lot of incoming daylight. And with registration pillars. Where no human being is involved anymore. You are supposed to enter your ID card. And the computer recognises where you have to be, at what time and for what purpose. And with all that information neatly on a freshly printed piece of paper, you can then walk through. And walk on. It looks like Schiphol , the dutch Airport, but without a treadmill. Boy, what a distance. But we, with our trained legs, din’t have a hard time doing that! We admired the beautiful floor along the way, were amazed by the amount of daylight that enters and were sightseeing and so towards ENT-department.
And in the ENT-Audiology department there is another registration column. Where again no one human being is needed anymore. That’s called the future! The computer takes over. It is cheaper than a staff member who wants to go on holiday, a thirteenth month and consultation with the manager. If the computer were the way to keep healthcare costs within acceptable limits. Alléz. But the manager will still manage. He or she cannot be replaced by a robot.

No new developments yet
And once the apk starts, it is evaluated separately, looked back, summarized, concluded and looked ahead.
Science, especially with hyperacusis, still has a hard time. The approach of hyperacusis has in some respects changed a bit compared to that of tinnitus. But there is certainly no new view yet. There are, certainly with regard to hyperacusis, no really new developments yet. The therapy as it is currently given, will eventually also not be able to offer a guarantee. Not everyone is completely helped with it. But maybe, in the distant future?
I have experienced the therapy as useful, especially for tinnitus. As for the hyperacusis, the therapy has not had much effect there, unfortunately. I certainly found it useful to look back. And to look ahead.
A few hours later I could leave again. With an approved apk, for several years. I may, if I find it necessary, come back again. It wasn’t really necessary. The National Road Traffic Agency won’t tell you that ….

* 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

The test phase in the next phase

Dear readers, as already announced in my last article, I will now report on the further course of the test phase of my new hearing aids.

During my stay with my mother in the Netherlands I was able to test the new hearing aids extensively.
The first test was a nice and cosy meal with my mother’s neighbours. I really noticed that I actually could understand the conversations a little better despite the background noise.

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Source: Picture from the author

The next day there was also the next test: in a nearby townhall the Dutch Sinterklaas with his helpers was warmly welcomed by a large group of seniors. Not a senior though, but as being already 50+, I was allowed to accompany my mother. Although the acoustics were not that good and the microphone wasn’t always working properly, it was still possible for me to follow most of it quite well.
When a music bingo started, with short pieces of music from the 60’s, but the quality of the music remained to be desired, I had my doubts, but actually everything went pretty well. And at the end, with the help of my two neighbours, I had bingo too!

And then it went on with testing. Sinterklaas also came by somewhere else, read a long poem and I heard everything relatively well.
Later that day my mother and I went to a big shopping mall to walk and look around a bit and to enjoy some coffee and cake. Since my mother can’t walk very well and not for long anymore, I brought her wheelchair with us. Since the communication between me and my mother became more difficult, because of course I walked behind the wheelchair for pushing, I hang my mother the Rogerpen around her neck and so we could communicate perfectly!

Of course, the test at both airports was just as challenging. The noise, the many, mostly incomprehensible messages … But also with the new hearing aids I mastered this challenge.

Landed on Swiss soil again, I went to the acoustician a few days later. Of course, I also reported extensively on my testexperiences there. And then I received the second pair of hearing aids for testing. These new hearing aids are of the same brand and the same type but in the 3 quality levels that exist they are on the lowest level, where the first hearing aids I tested were on the highest level.
Thanks to the computer, all the settings could be easily transferred to the new hearing aids and voilà, I was able to continue testing again.

In the home of the elderly people where I am a volunteer, the activation specialist and I organized a small and cosy Advent gathering. We drank punch with the residents, sang Advent songs, read Advent poems and -stories and even solved an Advent crossword puzzle. Surprisingly the Swiss Samichlaus gave us a short, belated visit and of course we had to sing to him.
My hearing aids passed this test well, although I noticed some differences with the previous hearing aids. Understanding in a group was less pronounced than with the first hearing aids of the highest level and the suppression of background noise was also better with the first hearing aids.

Fortunately, I still have time over the festive holidays to continue testing until I have to make a decission!

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auditory challenge, Hard of hearing

The test phase is running

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Last week I was not only fully occupied, the week was also mainly in the context of the test phase of my hearing aids. Apart from some minor negative experiences, there is almost nothing else to report but positive ones.

This week it was again confirmed that with the new hearing aids I clearly hear more and even understand a little better. Sometimes I can clearly hear a sound that I have not heard before or at least not so consciously. In the meantime I have “trained” my husband so that he explains a sound to me when I ask him or look at him askingly.

Even calling or skyping with my mobile phone is a bit more fun, because I can better understand the phonecall conversations, through Bluetooth now directly in my hearing aids.
Tomorrow I will receive the additional devices for the landtelephone, PC and television and then I ‘m very curious whether the experiences are just as good.

There are also a few things that need to be adapted. So the high tones are a bit too strong for me (although I need that for speech understanding) and they come relatively quickly to my pain threshold. But that’s a matter of adaptation.
What’s stranger is the humming sounds I hear in certain situations, for example near a train station. I suppose this has to do with an electronic atmosphere, but I’ll check this with my acoustician tomorrow.

Highlight of the test phase and absolute highlight of last week, yes, if not of the past 20 years … was my music experience. Via Bluetooth I heard familiar music from my mobile phone. When I listened to it, tears shot in my eyes: I hadn’t heard any music so detailed and clear for a very, very long time. It’s especially hard to describe for good hearing people, but I still give it a try. Most people know the song “Bohemian Rapsody” by Queen. In the song there is a multi-voice part where the voices go from left to right. For the first time in a very, very long time, I heard the voices go right from the left to the right hearing aid. I also heard the details in the audience clapping (it was a live recording) instead of “just” clapping. I could also clearly hear various background noises and details of the instruments. In short, it was a real musical experience.

And that, my dear readers, gave me back the pleasure of the music. As I mentioned here once before, listening to music was a big part of my life. I have always very much enjoyed listening to music. But as my hearing loss increased, listening to music became less and less fun. Even so much that I got gradually less concerned with listening to music.
Now that listening to music has become enjoyable again, the pleasure of music returns.
And that’s a big plus for me.

The next two weeks I will be in the Netherlands again, but afterwards there will be a lot to tell and I will continue to report here about the test phase.

 

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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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