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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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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