I had gone to the audiologist way back in October of last year, and not too long after that visit, I was given two brand new hearing aids. The shock of all the noise was a lot to take in for the first couple of weeks. There were appointments of adjusting certian sounds through the months of November and December. We were just getting it right, but for some odd reason, I just could not get my hearing aids to stop distorting my voice when I yelled for my kids, or when I heard certian high pitches.
My audiologist and I were baffled. It was at the point of, just before Christmas, she said, “It might be that it would be something you’ll have to live with.”
In the middle of that whole process, I decided to make my hearing aids stand out by exchanging the beige colored ones for some bright purple ones.
Eventually, I plan on getting some bright colorful earmolds to go with the purple hearing aids. I’m not going to hide the fact I wear them to hear the world around me. My future students need to see their teacher isn’t ashamed of being deaf/hard of hearing. (The reason I use both is because I am profoundly deaf in my right ear and severely in my left. I’m right on the edge of being completely deaf, though with hearing aids, I am hard of hearing.)
That doesn’t mean I can function like a hearing person does, though! I still have to work twice as hard as a hearing person. I still lipread, use sign language is my primary language, and can’t hear certian speech sounds. My clear speech is all due to some amazing speech therapists I had growing up. I still can’t hear my voice completely. I can’t hear the “s” or “th” sound, but when I talk, I know what it feels like to make those sounds. I’m just a great fooler… No one can guess I was born deaf with the way I can talk.
Even though I thought I would need to resign to the way my world now sounded, which was different than what I had grown up with. I was beginning to resent wearing hearing aids, but something nagged in me to keep fighting to get the sound I was familiar with back.
It had been a month since our last appointment, and I decided I should try one more time to see if we could figure out how to get it the way I had with my other hearing aids.
I called through my video relay app on my phone, and immediately, the secretary knew who was calling. I tell her that I just can’t stand the way a a certian pitch gets distorted, and I just want to try one more time in adjusting my hearing aids. “Sure!” my interpreter signs back to me, “Would tomorrow at 11:45 work for you?” I nod and sign, “YES!” I had a glimmer of hope that my hearing aids could be adjusted to be what I wanted.
The next day, as I walked into the office, I was greeted cheerfully by my audiologist and she immediately tells me that she now knows what needs to be done for me. “I had a client yesterday who is just like you, but he had a bit of a nerdy way of figuring it all out.” The guy apparently had a pitch app on his phone that helped him find what pitches his hearing aid went crazy on him. After a few minutes of detective work, she discovered that, according to the computer program, the hearing aids had a feature called a whistle diffuser and a feedback diffuser. At the pitches of whistles and feedback, the hearing aids would automatically try to “dial” down the down, causing it to sound robotic. Once she turned those features off, the whistle pitches came through the hearing aids just as they were supposed to sound. With the feedback diffuser off, you would hear the feedback. It just happened that the guy didn’t like hearing the feedback or the whistling, so he had his turned back on. “I’ll learn to live with it!” he had told her.
“You grew up with having analog hearing aids. Feedback and the whistle sounds are something you’re used to. Lets try turning off those features and see what happens.” It dawned on me, at that moment, that my old digital hearing aids had the feedback reducer feature and was turned off as well. I told her, and she laughed. “That could be just it!”
The second those features were turned off, I suddenly could hear clearer. I asked her to bump up the volume, and that helped quite a bit.
Its been four days since that final adjustment, and I say final because everything sounds like what I am used to. Music is clearer, and I can hear the high saprano voices I love without it becoming distorted. I called for my kids the other day to tell them it was time to go home, and I didn’t sound like a robot. It’s amazing how that made me feel. I was me again.
The con is I can hear feedback in my right ear now. It is a sore reminder that I do need new earmolds soon. Once I do get new earmolds, that feedback will be gone, and they’re going to be colorful, too! That will be fun.