Tuesday, March 30, 2010

The ones in my ears

Random fact of the day: Tortillas should come with an instruction manual. #1 should be, "Not safe for toaster ovens." I may or may not have started a small fire last night because I failed to consider this fact.

Hearing aids: A couple of posts ago, Kerrie asked about my hearing aids. Kerrie, I'm not sure if you were asking about my literal hearing aids - the ones I wear in my ears - or if you were using "hearing aids" the way I tend to on this blog, to discuss hearing loss. But I figured I never really mention the ones in my ears so I'll go with that for now! ;)

I wear two Behind-The-Ear hearing aids (BTEs). I wore analog aids for maybe 20ish years, and really, all they did was make things loud. A few years ago, I switched to digital hearing aids (yaaaaay technology) that do a better job of filtering out background noise and helping me zero in on specific sounds. This is what my hearing aids look like:

except mine are more beige. This one is kind of cool because it comes in a variety of colors and designs. I wasn't brave enough to get something that flashy!

These aids have four different programs and with the click of a small button on one hearing aid, I go from automatic to silent (this one is my favorite LOL! I call it my mute button) to quiet to more quiet to music and back again. I don't really know if they're called quiet and more quiet, that's just how I differentiate between them, ha! Anyway, I don't know all the technical differences between the two, but basically, they help in situations where maybe I'm in a crowded room and I'm just trying to listen to the person next to me. Those settings help filter out the background noise and focus on the sounds in my immediate proximity. Other situations could include a noisy office (like computers humming, printers whirring, AC/heating coming on and turning off, and so on), traffic, etc.

The hearing aid photo is incomplete - I don't just wear that thing behind my ear and let the sound leak in. I wear earmolds in my ear that are attached to the hearing aid by a soft plastic tube. You might have to look closely, but I think this photo does a good job of showing the different kinds of hearing aids:

The kind I wear is the second to last (if you are looking at it from left to right). You can't see the mold very well, but oh well. Some people opt to get colored molds - especially popular with kids! But I've seen adults with zebra-colored molds, blue and white swirls, etc. I've always gotten clear ones, but maybe it's time to think about having fun with them... hm. Anyway, I have to get new earmolds every few months. They eventually wear down and will start causing feedback in the hearing aids. I can tell I need new earmolds when they start feeling hard and when the tips are yellow. I can probably go nine months or so before needing new ones and it probably costs about $150 for two.

Kerrie's original question is how do my hearing aids differ from those of her grandpa's. Well, Kerrie, I don't know your grandpa that well, but I see a lot of older people wearing in the ear hearing aids. which you can see in the first four panels of the photo above. I'm not really up to speed on how those work. How do they change the batteries? How do they go in and out of the ear? How do they not get lost/stuck in the ear canal?!

Kerrie's other question was basically, do screeching kids irritate your hearing aids? The short answer is no. Outside of worn down earmolds or tiny, undetectable tears in the tubing (this happens a lot in the summer. All that humidity) that cause leaked sound and therefore feedback, there's not a lot that will cause the aids to go haywire. This was different with my analog aids - if you got too close to me, like to give me a hug or something, you'd probably hear feedback from my aids. These digital ones are a hardier species. ;) But that's not to say that noises don't bother me. Even though the aids are better at filtering noises out, they're not a cure. They're like eyeglasses in a way. Glasses help you see better but they don't cure your eyesight or make you have 20/20 vision. So even with the filtering, I still hear background noise and overlapping chatter and all that. Just like you, I sometimes find that irritating but unlike you, I can't always identify it. It all just blends into a cacophony of noise, and that can be irritating. For example, I was having one of those days at work today where every noise felt like nails on a chalkboard. The noise wasn't any different than any other day at the office, but today, it was just grating on me. So I hit my mute button and lived in blissful ignorance for most of the afternoon. It. Was. Grand!! :)

In other news: During my last (full) year of college, I lived in these apartment-style dorms on campus. One of my apartment-mates and I got into the habit of calling each other Deer-y. Yes, deer as in doe. I've long forgotten how that inside joke got started - some combination of a play on the word "dear" and that wacky college humor, y'know. Anyway, for purposes of this story, I'm going to refer to said apartment-mate as H. Deer. Just go with it. No worries.

Anyyyyway. H. Deer was a very intense Olympics fan, and the year we lived together was a Winter Olympics year. She talked about it for weeks. She was so excited about watching all the events. I listened with a mixture of amusement and confusion. Her excitement was adorable but I honestly could not understand anyone getting so excited over sports. I mean, really... sports and Lucy just do not compute. I had not yet acquired the level of appreciation for the Olympics that I do now. Pretty much anything involving moving or snow was worthless to me.

So this one night, I had been laying on the couch pretty much most of the evening, surfing from one random show to the next. Around 9:45, H. Deer, who had been gone all evening, if not all day, bounced back to the apartment and begged to watch the Olympic events. I don't remember why it was important - she hadn't watched it all day or it was getting close to the end or it was a really really important competition. But whatever, she was just dying to watch just a few minutes of it.

Now me, being the Sheriff of the Universe and all :p, instead of being gracious and relinquishing the remote to her, got all huffy and pointed out that I was here first and there's only about 10 minutes left of my show, so I just want to finish it first. Taken aback, she politely pointed out that I had already been watching TV all night, the Winter Olympics are only on every four years and this was really important to her. Not to be outdone - justice had to be served, after all - I yelled that I didn't understand why this was so important to her and therefore didn't see why she had to watch it right that second.

"Well," H. Deer informed me calmly, "you don't have to understand it. You just have to know it's important to me."

And since I was sooooo mature back then, I threw the remote at her and stormed off to my bedroom and proceeded to tell my roommate just how mad I was at our apartment-mate. "Oh," she said, and went back to her homework.

But from H. Deer, I learned a very valuable lesson. I don't need to know everything all the time. I don't need to know why something is important to someone - I just need to know that it is and seek to serve them accordingly.

I've had a couple of different.... discussions, shall we say, with a couple of different people in the last few weeks. I wish I kept this lesson front and center more often. I think a lot of arguments could be avoided if we all just remember that we don't always need to know that answer to why?. We just need to be.

No comments:

Post a Comment