Monday, March 10, 2008

My own P.A.

Aside

Well actually it is P.C.A. - personal communication assistance, aka hearing aid in old money. I’ve been wondering if I’m making mountains out of molehills. Just because one can’t hear ’ t’ and ‘s’ and ‘f’ it isn’t the end of the world, but on a good day it’s a blasted nuisance; straining to hear the denouement of a radio play and missing it when the actor drops his voice , and on a bad day it’s like slowly slipping into oblivion. I can’t count the number of times someone has spoken confidentially to me at a gathering and whilst I smile hesitantly I’m not sure if they have told me they have just won the lottery or that their dog had just died.

On Friday we went to see Kate, an audiologist with lots of letters after her name. She immediately inspired me with confidence and we had a thorough chat about my symptoms, after which she examined my ears- noted my little perforation in my right ear and gave me an Audiogram which measures one’s hearing threshold and gives specific information about which part of the ear isn’t working properly and which parts of the hearing spectrum are missing.

I asked Kate what the perforation looked like and with the aid of a special instrument I was able to view it on a screen. It was all very clean and tidy and both she and, the ENT specialist agreed that as it had been there since the fifties – it would be best to leave it alone. In fact the hearing in that ear is the same as the other. I have high frequency loss- difficulty hearing softer high-pitched sounds (‘s’,’t’ and ‘f ’but no difficulty hearing the deeper vowel sounds. In quiet listening situations I can follow a conversation but when it gets noisy, I need amplification in order to hear clearly.

I then went to keep my appointment with the ENT man who was very busy and kept me waiting half an hour but he apologised and looked such a nice young man I forgave him. Kate had warned me we would probably go over the same ground again, which we did and he said he would write to my doctor and then sent me back to Kate.

Now we had to choose the hearing aid best suited to my loss of hearing and life style, and I was very surprised to discover that Kate had been partially deaf from birth and has worn hearing aids since the age of ten. She has worn all kinds of hearing aids and uses her real life experience to get the most out of modern technology. I was impressed when she showed me the PCAs she had in her ears.

The West Country Clinical Hearing Services are fully independent which means they look at all hearing aids from all manufacturers so they offer the best advice that will suit individual needs. We decided on the best one for me and I chose the colour – champagne. Kate asked me if I had any idea of the cost and told me the range of prices. She said my hearing loss was not as great as hers and mine was in the middle price range. I tried one in my ear and it felt quite comfortable.

Next Friday I go to have them fitted and have a 45 day trial. If I change my mind during that time I get my money back minus the consultation fee. Otherwise the cost includes free ongoing support and consultations for the life of the hearing aids. I’m having Delta 8000 which listens and thinks how to deliver the best combo of sound quality, speech understanding and comfort in all situations. It had a built in memory that registers the characteristics of my different sound environments. Kate can then fine tune Delta to match specific needs. There’s more to the science bit but it can wait until I actually have it on my person.

26 comments:

Z said...

I hope it is a success - I suspect that it's only when you have it that you'll realise how much you've been missing.

R. Sherman said...

I think you should go with the complete ensemble: ear-thingy, trench coat and fedora. Then you can stand next to famous people, touching your ear and speaking into your wristwatch. They'll think your and MI72 Special Agent.

Unless, of course, they cart you off for a different sort of examination.

Seriously, I hope it works out. My mom has some hearing loss but refuses to have it checked out. I think she has visions of carrying around some sort of monstrous ear-horn and yelling "eh?" at people. One must take advantage of available technology.

Cheers.

john.g. said...

My friend, the Poachers dad has a digital aid in each ear. They have been marvellous for him.....when he turns them on!!

Nea said...

Pleased to see you haven't blown away.

If the PCAs hear as good as they sound (?)please let us know. I will probably be needing something similar very soon.

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Sam, Problemchildbride said...

You need one with satellite radio, baby. It's the future.

kenju said...

Your experience with it is very similar to mine; I also have high-frequency hearing loss, plus tinnitus, which makes it all worse. The hearing aids I need don't fit in the ear, but behind it. They are super small, though and my color will be grey. I am looking forward to hearing easily again.

PI said...

Z: that is what I'm hoping for.

Randall: I'm thinking Marlene.
BTW if it works out you'll really have to have a go at your Mum. It's all too easy to retreat into a quiet world. And we didn't oughta!

Crescenet: thank you:)

Sam: I don't want to shoot the price up any higher. As it is MTL is having to sub me temporarily.

PI said...

Nea: don't worry I'll be doing progress reports.

Judy: sorry about the tinnitus. She didn't offer me the ones behind the ear - just as well as I'd be more likely to lose them. How do they stay in place? They are very neat aren't they?

Kate said...

Hello again Pi - As I come from a long line of 'Eh'? folk, I have no doubt I will eventually need one myself. I remember my Dad having one of the old style ones which looked like an ear. He used to drive us all mental by moaning that he still couldn't hear and would spend a lot of time fiddling with a pin trying to clear the hole part of any fluff etc. When he was not fiddling he was ranting that it was set too loud and programmes being watched on the telly were often ruined by the high pitched whistle! eeekk ! that's of course when he didn't have it switched off - hehehe...

PI said...

Kate: sounds like my MIL. Thank goodness we have progressed. I'll let you know:)

sablonneuse said...

yes, I hope you'll tell us what kind of hearing aid you choose and how you get on with it.
I recognise the symptoms and guess it won't be long before I have to follow the same route as you but I have some way to go before I catch up with Bear. He has the TV volume porpainfully loud for me - but that's because I sit next to it to see properly. Oh what it is to get older. . . .

moon said...

I have many relatives who wear hearing aids...they have a much better quality of life because of them...I hope you are comfortable with them quickly...we are so lucky that technology improves so many things by leeps and bounds!

rashbre said...

Someone I know went along this route and was so pleased they had. It made a lot of difference in noisy surroundings because of the ability to differentiate the sounds and saw a general jump in 'involvement'.

Good luck with this.

Mike & Ann said...

Hi Pat, Mike here (Nea's Pa). First of all thanks for the comment on my blog. Prove's it's working again. Secondly, I too have high frequency hearing loss (two hearing aids). They are a great help when you get used to them. But you must persevere. Apart from the hearing aids the thing that's helped me most has been lip reading lessons. Suggest you start them now(probably before you really need them) - it will be easier. Hope this helps. Best wihes, Mike.

Daphne Wayne-Bough said...

I suppose, like Cyril, you will be asking for "Banjo" instead of vin chaud on your next winter holiday!

PI said...

sablonneuse: be assured I'll take you with me every step of the way.

Moon: I'll do my damnedest:)

Rashbre: ooh I'm looking forward to being more involved:)

Mike: that's good advice and I'm pleased to hear of your success. Thank you!

Daphne: I'm being thick - the only Cyrils I can think of are Fletcher and 'nice one'. P'raps I should get a digital brain.

SpanishGoth said...

Love does not require hearing, only heart.

Truth needs no feeling, only soul.

Empathy is all.

I am sure you will find what you require as the majority - you already have.

bisous,
SG
XXX

PI said...

SG: that's lovely. Now I shall have sweet dreams.

Guyana-Gyal said...

When I was a child, a quack damaged my left ear, I've never gotten accustomed to not hearing well, and we don't have high tech. hearing things here, but one day, one day...

Hee hee, I like Randall's suggestion.

Keith said...

I thought my hearing was failing last week. I hired a video from the library (I forget the title) about gang-life in the Bronx, NY. The entire cast were young coloured men and girls, I think they were negro (am I allowed to say that?). They were speaking English, but I couldn't understand hardly a word. I thought it was my hearing. I kept playing bits over and over, but it was no use. I really thought my old brain was giving up on me.

I came to the conclusion that it was their terrible accent, diction and "street-talk". The funny thing was, they understood each other perfectly! I gave up on the video and took it back.

OldOldLady Of The Hills said...

Sorry I haven't been by Pat....You have been very very busy, my dear...I understand from other friends that this Hearing Aid buiness is not as simple as one might think, and reading your experience it seems there is a lot of 'fine tuning' that goes into it all, which is a really good thing, don't you think? Kate sounds WONDERFUL and a perfect person to help with this 'fine tining'...How good that you found her! So very many people I know have had problems with thier 'aids'....But I know they keep improving them all the time. Much good luck with this, my dear...!

Kim Ayres said...

Do they come with built in MP3 players?

My father's mother had one of those old types with a big dial on a box hanging round her neck to adjust the volume. In arguments with my grandfather she would pointedly turn off the sound

PI said...

GG: was that a duck? I hope it came to a sticky end. What bad luck.

Keith: I have the same problem with Max in Eastenders - and the first thing I shall test with the PCAs. Dreadful little man that he is!

Naomi: I am lucky with Kate and realise I shall have to persevere. I couldn't cope with contact lenses but that was for vanity - this is more important I think.

Kim:My MIL was the same and the whistling droves us dotty. That was her excuse for not wearing it. I now feel more sympathetic.

amarkonmywall said...

Oh! It's Kenju's Pat who has been coming by so sweetly these past few days! That's so funny because I was over here last night reading this post (without comment, until I put it together this morning). I came by because I had asked Judy about her allusion to PCAs. I've been fearful of going to the doctor, prefering instead to think that I have just a badly clogged up ear full of wax- which might in fact be the case. Or maybe not. But I can't much longer deny that my hearing on one side is dimiished, esp. when I'm reading myself to sleep lying on my hearing ear and I can barely make out what my sweetie is saying to me as we drift off to sleep. It gives new meaning to whispering "sweet nothings." :-) So now, thanks to first Judy and now you, I'm off to get my ears checked. Appointment first thinking in the morning. Happy Easter, Pat and thanks for coming by!

PI said...

Vicki: welcome and Happy Easter to you. I'm so glad Judy's and my experience has been helpful and the best of luck with your appointment. I shall be visiting you and learning more:)