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Tuesday, June 28, 2011

A Reader Asks Other Readers to Respond

I received an email from a new hearing aid wearer who wanted to ask a few questions of me and the readers of my blog. My answers appear in italics. Please post your responses in the comments section. Thanks!

1. I find myself frequently adjusting the volume on my aids, having come to see that as an advantage. In fact, I can turn them up loud enough so that I can hear things going on in the next room! I'm wondering if you and other subscribers use your aids in this manner, or if you just keep your volume controls at the same setting all day? The problem I have is that now I can't tell how loud something "really" is, and I'm afraid that I might adjust the volume on things like radios, etc. too high or low for others. I try to watch peoples' reaction, but I can never be sure. I'd appreciate knowing how you and other subscribers deal with this matter. Also, is the practice I've fallen into of turning my aids off in very noisy places and when I really want to concentrate common?

Speak Up Librarian: My hearing aids don't have volume controls. My options are to switch between different programs, add an assistive listening device, or take them out. When I'm concerned the volume is too loud for others, I ask and try to come to a compromise. I do the same thing as you when it comes to noisy places, I take my hearing aids out.

2. I've learned of a way to have my current BTEs attachable to eyeglass frames, so my visual and hearing helpers can be combined and put on and off at the same time. Have you or anyone else had experience with this option?

Speak Up Librarian: I haven't tried that. It's an interesting idea, but there are many times where I wear my glasses but not my hearing aids and I wonder how tricky it would be to separate them.

3. I'm frequently aware that people are making a special effort to speak loudly and directly to me, I guess because they see my hearing aids. Do you frequently have this experience?

Speak Up Librarian: No. Generally I get that response only after I've told someone I'm not hearing them and it's something they really want me to know.

4. Several times a week I'm asked about my aids. I guess as a female yours are more hidden by your hair? Do you make any effort to hide you aids/hearing problem, or do you want people to know? From what I've read on your blog, you were never embarrassed about getting hearing aids. How do you feel your husband, children and coworkers have adjusted and accepted your need for hearing aids?

Speak Up Librarian: No, I don't hide my hearing problem. In fact my friends and family frequently wish I would just shut up about it already. (That's me "reading their minds" - not that they've said that.) I haven't been embarrassed about getting hearing aids. But I have been embarrassed when I think people perceive me as stupid or slow when I don't understand them right away. Even after 5 years, I still find it difficult explaining my situation to library patrons. I read in a book last night that librarians tend to be very private about themselves in their interactions with library patrons so that could be a factor. When people are coming to me for help, I guess I want to appear "all knowing" - an occupational hazard perhaps. Since it's been 5 years now, I think my friends and family have accepted the situation. As we tell teenagers, it does get better.

Thanks for your email. I'm looking forward to reading the responses of other readers of my blog.


Dan Schwartz said...

I do .NOT. recommend attaching hearing aids to eyeglasses, except for someone who wears both every waking hour (like the elderly with a severe loss): If you take off your glasses, you also go deaf.

In the old days, eyeglass hearing aids were popular for just this reason; but with today's smaller hearing aids, attaching them permanently to the temples causes more problems than it solves.

Some of us like to flaunt our ear hardware with brightly colored BTE cases, stickers, fluorescent earmolds, jewelry, Tube Riders, and so forth. We see this trend especially with kids as an answer to bullying, with them treating not as a flaw, but as a feature.

Here is my Stupid CI Tricks for dozens of examples I've collected.

Dan Schwartz
Editor, The Hearing Blog

Rob said...

Hi! I'm Rob, the new hearing aid wearer to whom Sarah responded above. Let me clarify about the glasses thing. I have a lot of astigmatism, so not only can I not see without my glasses, but I actually get nauseated if I try to go without them. Needless to say, I never take them off except to shower and sleep. What I have now are two arms which can be attached to the frontpiece of new eyeglasses. My BTEs can be screwed into these arms, becoming the back of my eyeglasses, the part that curls behing the ears. The amplication is transmitted to a protrusion just in fromt of the ears, and a tube goes from there into the ears. I haven't used this feature yet, but I'm due for my annual eye exam in August, and I thought I'd get a pair of glasses to which I could attach the arms and my BTEs. If you'd like, I could let all of you know how all of this goes for me. I agree, though, that this would only be workable for someone who wears glasses and hearing aids all the time. I do in that I must wear my glasses all the time as I explained, and I have a volume control on my aids which I can turn down.

Also, what have the experiences of members been in comparing digital to analogue aids? I'm just exploring this website, so if this has been covered in previous blogs, please direct me to the appropriate place. Mine are analogue. My hearing loss is broad-based, and they do what I've wished for for years, thinking that everything would be fine if people would just speak up and turn the radio up just a bit!

I'm really enjoying this group!


Liz said...

1. I have found after the first 2 years of wearing the hearing aids I question myself what is loud now, but my boyfriend has told me I don't turn things up too loud for others.

Most of the time I keep my hearing aids at the same level, but odd times I do turn them up with a bit of leeway that has been programmed in them. But you are lucky to hear others in the other room because I can't.

2. I don't wear glasses, so can't comment on this one.

3. I find people speak clearly to me, but I've not come across anyone yet who has attempted to speak loudly I don't think.

4. My family are ok, but it's been an adjustment for them as it has been for me. It's been a shock to some family members to realise how deaf I am. They did not realise that I was that deaf. So it came a shock.

When I first wore hearing aids I had long hair so used to cover them up. It took about 6 months before I fully shown off my hearing aids. Now I don't care who see them.

Anonymous said...

Liz, here are my responses to your responses, for which I thank you:

1. My audiologist, who wears hearing aids herself, gave me stronger aids than I really need right now so I won't have to buy more powerful ones in the near future. Right now, I'm enjoying my "super ears," and people find it "neat" that they can adjust the volume on things any way they'd like, and I can compensate by turning my aids up or down.I guess right now I'm more accurately described as "hard of hearing" rather than "deaf." Is there a formal distinction between the two?

2.I'm sure that someday you too will need glasses, and you'll see that they can correct your vision completely in ways that hearing aids cannot correct hearing. I'll discuss a related issue at the end of this note.

3. I appreciate it when people make an effort to speak directly and clearly to me after seeing my hearing aids. As you all know, aids don't give you "normal, natural" hearing.

4. I've been told that people were pleased when I showed up one morning wearing hearing aids because they wouldn't have to repeat themselves to me so frequently as they had to in the past!

Related to all the above, I've read in this blog descriptions of the experience of hearing the world through aids. I compare it with when I was a kid and, I guess, had normal hearing. It seemed that I had the ability to "tune in" to sounds of my choice. Now, it's more like listening to a broadcast in which I more hear what is being presented. I'm told that digital aids can focus on sounds, like a lecture, but they sometimes get it wrong and you can miss pleasing background sounds, like leaves rustling in the wind and birds chirping. People now seem to have trouble getting my attention in subtle ways. I think it's important for us to be able to describe what being a hearing aide user is like so we can convey to those with whom we might have an intimate relationship what we're experiencing and how it affects our communications. I'm not in such a relationship right now, unfortunately. In your experiences, have spouses and boyfriends/girlfriends ever tried listening through hearing aids for a while to try to understand what our world is like? Might that be a good idea?

Despite some of the challenges, I'm sure like you I'm grateful for my hearing aids and definitely feel that they have enhanced my quality of life.

I'll appreciate your responses and comments,


Liz said...

I am glad you get on well with them. I certainly would not be without mine although I do sometimes resent them a lately, but thats only because of problems feeling comfortable with my right ear, after an op some months ago. I hope Ear Gear will help with that.

All the best to the future.

Anonymous said...

Hi, Liz,

Thanks for your comment, as usual.

I can't imagine resenting my hearing aids as they have literally "opened up new worlds" for me, like at concerts, hearing birds on walks, etc., etc. How, if I amy ask, did the operation on your right ear affect your adjustemnt to aids?

Also, what is "Ear Gear"?

How would you describe the world of sound for us hearing aid wearers in comaprison to those poeple who hear well anturally?


Liz said...

I just have that little resentment when my aids irritate a bit. I had an op on my mastoid to see if I did have infection, after being in pain for over a year, and not shifting with antibiotics, as it would come back after some time. But when they operated I was given the all clear. There was nothing there, so I’m recovering.

This op was in March. I’m healed inside the ear and my scar has healed nicely, but the bone behind my ear, although it’s knitting together. It will take up to a year to fully heal.

There is no reason why I can’t wear my hearing aids, but my right ear that was affected. I find behind my ear on operated area, it gets tender, and so I fiddle with my hearing aid hoping it to feel a bit more comfortable, but end up taking it out.

Ear Gear, this site will show what they are. It’s a stretchy fabric to fit your particular make of hearing aid. They do them for bone anchor and CI too. :) Its early days me wearing these, but I have already felt much benefit and comfort from them.

Describing the world of sound, I think the best way for me to describe I would have to go back to my early days, as I remember this better, which are familiar sounds sounding artificial, but then eventually hearing it like you used to.
And what was once a quiet street to me, where I used to live; wondering where the birds went. Finding the birds never disappeared, and to hear a lovely morning chorus out of them. :)

Now.... With hearing aids, I don’t hear the birds like I used to. But if I do find to hear the odd bird still. I find it a precious moment. :)

Anonymous said...


Are your aids digital or analogue? The analogue aids help you hear ALL the sounds. That's the kind I'm wearing now. I'm going to really try to take care of these, and when my insurance will pay for new hearing aids, I'll get a pair of digital. I'm thinking the digitals will be better for meetings and seminars, while I love my current BTEs because I hear many, many birds on walks. Has anyone else tried switching for one type of aid to the other?


Liz said...

Mine are digital hearing aids. That's all I have ever known. :)

Anonymous said...

Has anyone out there had experience with both kinds of aids and can compare them in diffrent situations? Mine seem to be working great for me, picking up the volume and allowing me to turn sounds up and down.

SpeakUp Librarian said...

Hi Rob,

You may want to check out Steve's blog Hearing Aid Know.

Here's an article he wrote on switching from analog to digital aids.

Amanda said...

We've shared this post with our readers in hopes that they will be able to contribute as well. Thanks for all you do Speak Up Librarian! We love your blot!

Anonymous said...

I can sort of understand how digitals would help you focus in on the most important sounds, like a lecturer's voice. I guess right now, I'm kind of on a "high" hearing all the sounds at the volume I choose, no more straining to hear, etc. I now know that people have experienced switching from analogues to digitals. Does anyone out there use both kinds according to the situation, as I imagine I will do someday?


SpeakUp Librarian said...

Thanks, Amanda!
I'm hoping to share a post on TV Ears soon. Stay tuned.

Anonymous said...

I have aids which I do not wear all the time, and I am wearing them less and less...
I have had them going on three years, my hair is short, and so far NO ONE has mentioned them. I usually wear them when I am out in a large group, at church, in a restaurant, at a show or play.

I wear them while watching TV when I am too lazy to use the TVEars or not at the TV with the setup attached.

Last night I was watching Poirot, and the TVEars needed charging...I had the volume up to 60!!! to understand the dialogue.

Do you have some shows that are harder than others to understand?? I have problems with British shows on PBS.

SpeakUp Librarian said...

That's interesting that you should mention that about British television. I just rented an Agatha Christie DVD from the library. It said CC on the case but I couldn't find any captioning options on the main menu. We went ahead and watched it without captions with the TV at normal volume. This was an Agatha Christie story I was familiar with so I generally understood what was happening. When it was over, my husband commented on how much he enjoyed it. He was surprised when I said I didn't because I couldn't hear what they were saying.

It has certainly been my experience that my ability to understand dialog can vary greatly from show to show. It all depends on the actors' voices, the style of dialog, and the amount of background noise on the show and in my home. That's why I advocate for captions.

Anonymous said...

I'm wondering if your problems with some shows suggests the desirability of at least having access to analogue hearing aids? I can always turn mine up so as to be able to understand anything, for example. - Rob

Anonymous said...

I really like TVEars a LOT. I actually prefer them to the hearing aids as I watch TV in bed, and don't like the noises of the aids against the pillows when I move around. TVEars are very easy to control, volumewise. [Not a problem with PBS, but on commercial TV I can control volume when the commercials come on.

Anonymous said...

Aren't TVEars analogue? Might that prove my point?From how well my aids work and from what I've heard of the experiences of digital wearers, I'm wondering if the old analogues might have been abandoned prematurely? - Rob