What's in this blog? Hearing Loss and Hearing Aids

"Mankind is terrified of silence, is uncomfortable in the quiet, is this the reason they need so much going on around them that is noisy? "

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Deafness in Disguise

Interesting web site on the history of hearing aids.

Makes me appreciate digital technology and zinc air batteries even more!

History of hearing aids.

Sunday, February 21, 2010

My Wife

My wife made a comment a couple of days ago that we were have fewer misunderstandings in our wife husband communications. It's amazing how much her speaking skills have improved in the last month.

Happy New Year's, Welcome Back to the Party

What do you get when have 500 kids screaming kids, their parents, a moon bounce, live Hula dancers, live music with drums, guitars, ukulele's and 1000 people all once talking in an unfinished store space? The Lunar New Year's celebration at the China Town Center in Austin TX yesterday. This is the day that the Chinese and other countries in Asia celebrate the new year. To say it was noisy and loud is an understatement. The good news was I was able to discriminate individual voices and even talk to my wife without shouting. Another win my for my new HA's.

The second hearing challenge of the day was a Tai Chi exhibition and attending the annual banquet of the Austin Taoist Tai Chi Society. 52 practitioners and friends celebrating the New Year and another successful year of practicing Tai Chi. My wife was on the banquet committee so I provided some free labor to help set up.

It was great to be able to talk someone across the table and have a coherent conversation while enjoying a traditional Chinese New Year’s meal. Several other folks at our table had hearing issues and we had some interesting conversations about HA's and hearing loss.

A great day all around.

Link to Austin Tai Chi organization  http://texas.usa.taoist.org/

Tai Chi is an excellent way to improve balance, flexibility and bone mass. I plan on attending the beginner’s class in April.
 Article on Tai Chi and Balance  Tai Chi and Improving Your Balance

Thursday, February 18, 2010

Quiet Spaces and beautiful voices

I went to a ritual practice last night at the Round Rock Masonic Temple. The main lodge room is a large room with wall to wall carpeting, acoustical tiles and upholstered furniture. With only five of us there it was a very quiet room. In fact the quietest room I have been in since I got my HA's. I really got the chance to LISTEN. I thought I knew the voices of my friends quite well. Their deep male voices they sounded richer and fuller. Masonic ritual includes several long lectures and ritual dialogs. The spoken word can be beautiful to listen to and savor if you can.

Saturday, February 13, 2010


I was talking to someone a few days ago that I have known all my life about my new hearing aids and what a difference they have made. His response was "I know I can't hear other people and really don't give a damm. I am not that interested in what they have to say." I wonder if he realizes what he can't hear and how much he is missing. Only time will tell.

Dogs and Hearing Aids

Tonight I was sitting in Barnes & Noble drinking a cup of tea and I realized that I could hear five conversations at the tables surrounding me. I thought about what has happened to me and those closest to me during the last month. In addition to my new hearing aids we have adopted a fourth rescue dog. Rocky is a 4 month old Catahoula pup that someone left on the side of the road in Rockdale TX. No comment about the sort of heartless SOB that could do this to a dog. At any rate, a cohort of mine at FedEx picked him up, took him home and asked to keep him over the Christmas holiday while she was traveling. Rocky has never left our house. He does have a new red collar and neuter job so he is here to stay along with Hunter, Cricket and Ginger.

So what do dogs and hearing aids have in common? I recently read that people and dogs are attracted to each other because we are both social species. Dogs and people need social interaction. Speech and hearing are both a critical component to this interaction. I realized a couple of months ago that was sitting in rooms full of people and not talking to anyone. I understand now that I am social critter and enjoy the company of my friends and brothers in the various masonic organizations, my team mates and customers at FedEx as well as the companionship of my wife. My hearing aids make this interaction much more effective and enjoyable.

Friday, February 12, 2010


I have had some conversations like this, just don't know whether I was first, second or third. 
Three old guys are out walking.
First one says, "Windy, isn't it?"
Second one says, "No, it's Thursday!"
Third one says, "So am I. Let's go get a beer."

Thursday, February 11, 2010

Uncle Ernie

My Uncle Ernie was the first person I can remember that wore a hearing aid. This photo was taken in 1961 when I was in first grade and he was about 75 years old. You can see the ear piece in his left ear. One of my favorite great uncles and a real softy for kids and dogs.

Two Weeks Later and My Hearing is Much Improved

Very happy with the HA's and so is my wife. The HA's are time, effort and money well spent. No regrets about buying the best HA's I can afford.

I had appointment with Penny this morning and learned some more.

I live and work in a noisy world, about 60-70dB on average. Some places are really noisy in excess of 100 dB. I am wearing the HA's 12 hours a day. I don't spend a lot of time in quiet environments.

The hearing aids (HA's) are doing their job and my brain is learning to adapt to the new sounds a lot quicker than I would. I don't even notice that I have them on a majority of the time. I am impressed how well the HA's work.
A few more things I have learned in the last two weeks........

No one notices my hearing aids . They are invisible unless you are looking for them. Some other folks with HA's notice them but that's about it. The Streamer that I wear around my neck looks like an iPod or MP3 player.

A couple of my friends noticed the change in my hearing and asked what happened.

When I take the HA's out it's like stuffing my ears with cotton or wearing ear plugs. Sounds are flat and muffled and muted. Not too exciting, yet this is what my hearing has been like for years and I learned to live with it.

When I listen carefully, I can hear and understand how the HA's compensate for the high frequencies I can't hear. Some sounds like garage door openers, toilets flushing and machinery are loud and sharp. But these noises occur at the same frequencies that are used to pronounce the soft consonant sounds that make it easier for me to understand what's being said to me in a conversation. I'll take the amplified sounds along with the amplified consonants rather than neither which is the choice I have.

My tinnitus is much less noticeable with the HA's. It's still there but it's masked by everything else I can hear now. I notice it now when I take the HA's out before when I go to sleep.

Sunday, February 7, 2010

Itching and Sore Ears, Easy Fix, Wally to the Rescue

My ears were sore for a couple of days when I started wearing the HA's. I talked to a local herbalist who recommended using Wally's Ear Oil. She was right, the Ear Oil did the trick, just followed the directions on the bottle and used a few drops at night after I took the HA's out. No more sore ears and it smells good. 
Web site for Wally's

Friday, February 5, 2010

One Week and a Day, life is better

I have been wearing the hearing aids and using the Streamer for one week and a day. The hearing aids are a huge improvement compared to my unassisted hearing. Sounds are very flat and muted, also my tinnitus is much more noticeable without the hearing aids. I am very impressed with the XW's and the quality of the sound. Nothing sounds tinny or artificial.

The Streamer is great in relatively quiet places. I use it several hours a day and only resort to using the handset on the Blackberry while I am driving.  One neat trick I learned was that the voice dialing, and recall the last number functions on my Blackberry work well with the Streamer. I use my Sansa MP3 Player with the Streamer with OK results. I think the speakers in the HA's are too small to reproduce the bass adequately for music. I do like like listening to E-Books on the Sansa using the Streamer

My wife says that she noticed the difference in the first few days. I have been turning the volume down on every thing. I never knew how loud TV commercials were. I also noticed all sorts of beeps and chirps that our gadgets and household appliances make that I didn't notice before.

Starbucks and other eateries require me to tun the volume down two or three clicks to keep the noise tolerable. Same thing in the Subaru.

Do my hearing aids increase my enjoyment of daily life? Yes
Do they improve my communications? yes, every time I speak to someone or listen to someone else.

Wednesday, February 3, 2010

The Noisiest Places

The noisiest places I have been with my hearing aids;

1. My Subaru Forester at 65mph in a thunderstorm, volume down 2 notches

2. The laminate flooring factory in Temple TX. HA's off and ears plugs in

3. Most Restaurants, I'd rather eat in the car or preferably at home!

Noisy Restaurants

Link to article in Wall Street Journal on noisy resturaunts

WSJ Noisy Restaurants

Tuesday, February 2, 2010

The Other Parts of My Hearing Test

One set of test results concerned me more than some others was the Speech Test. What is a Speech Test?

from web page posted by Dayton Ear Nose and Throat  Dayton Ear Nose and Throat web page

During speech discrimination testing the audiologist typically will present monosyllabic words in a quiet environment. However, to gain more insight into how well an individual understands speech in conditions that are similar to everyday situations, monosyllabic words may be presented in the presence of competing noise, cafeteria noise, or multi-speaker babble. The presentation of speech in competing noise is a more realistic approximation of typical communication functioning.
The discrimination score is a representation of how well an individual will do with hearing aids. Those with good or excellent scores are expected to do extremely well with hearing aids and will hear very much like an individual who has normal hearing. Individuals with poor discrimination scores are expected to still have some difficulties even with hearing aids. However, their ability to understand conversation with hearing aids is expected to be much better than without hearing aids.

Speech Discrimination Scores

Correct interpretation:
  • 100%-90% Excellent understanding of speech
  • 89%-90% Good understanding of speech
  • 79%-70% Fair understanding of speech
  • 69%-60% Poor understanding of speech
  • 59%-50% Markedly reduced understanding of speech
My test scores are;
80% in the right ear which is Fair
68% in the left ear which is Poor

This is pretty accurate picture of my experiences listening to other people. My new hearing aids and Streamer using Blue Tooth have made a significant improvement in how well I can understand what is being said to me. I use lots of numbers and a lot of computer terms in my conversations at work and on the phone with customers, peers and tech support. I have learned the hard way to repeat back what has been said to me and use the phonetic alphabet to spell certain words and phrases.

What's a Phonetic Alphabet?

The SRT Score

Speech audiometry includes determining speech reception threshold (SRT) and testing of word recognition . Speech reception threshold testing determines the faintest level at which a person can hear and correctly repeat easy-to-distinguish two-syllable (spondaic) words. Examples of spondaic words are "baseball," "ice cream," "hot dog," "outside," and "airplane." Spondaic words have equal stress on each syllable. The individual repeats words (or points to pictures) as the audiologist's voice gets softer and softer. The faintest level, in decibels, at which 50% of the two-syllable words are correctly identified, is recorded as the Speech Reception Threshold (SRT). A separate SRT is determined for each ear.
Tests of word recognition attempt to evaluate how well a person can distinguish words at a comfortable loudness level. It relates to how clearly one can hear single-syllable (monosyllabic) words when speech is comfortably loud. Examples of words used in this test are "come," "high," "knees," and "chew." In this test, the audiologist's voice (or a recording) stays at the same loudness level throughout. The individual being tested repeats words (or points to pictures). The percentage of words correctly repeated is recorded for each ear.
Thus, a score of 100% would indicate that every word was repeated correctly. A score of 0% would suggest no understanding.
Word recognition is typically measured in quiet. For specific purposes, word recognition may also be measured in the presence of recorded background noise that can also be delivered through the audiometer.

My SRT scores were 30 for right ear and 35 in left ear. In brief I have a very hard time distinguishing words.

Bluetooth and the XW's

The Oticon Streamer links my Blackberry with the hearing aids. The advantage is that I hear the conversation in both ears. The link works well except in noisy places. No surprise since noisy environments are a bit of challenge for the hearing aids. I don't need the TV or phone adapter for the Streamer. The volume and quality are fine as is. The neck loop is also the antenna.