Spots in Time : Gord Turner

Hearing aid blues

When I was young, we kids would laugh at older people who had flesh-coloured plugs in their ears. Their hearing aids often bothered them,and they would take them out from time to time or even leave them out. Being young, we thought losing our hearing would never happento us.

Unfortunately, it did happen to me. In my final few years of instructing at the college, I realized I was not hearing everything. So, when Iasked students questions as part of instruction, I walked down the aisle and stood close to them. If I were in front and I didn’t hear aresponse, I pretended I knew what had been said.

Eventually, I made an appointment at the hearing aid clinic and discovered that the hearing in my left ear was greatly diminished, but thatthe hearing in my right ear was acceptable. With immense anguish, I bought one hearing aid for my left ear, and all of a sudden, I could hearthe sounds around me again.

I purchased a Phonak hearing aid, one of those positioned atop the ear and behind the ear lobe. A narrow plastic hearing wire and tinyrubber umbrella-like device was attached to the Phonak device. The wire and device fit along the ear and into the ear so that sounds werepicked up.

For the longest while, no one even knew I wore a hearing aid particularly if they were standing anywhere in front of me. Once, a friendsitting behind me tapped me on the shoulder and said, “You have a hearing aid.” He could see the Phonak aid from behind.

Recently, I lost my wonderful hearing aid. I believe it’s lying in the grass somewhere out at Selkirk College, but I looked everywhere andcouldn’t locate it. When I contacted my insurance company, I learned that the cost of my hearing aid was partly covered minus thedeductible of course. Also, my extended medical group agreed to give me a small sum toward a new one.

So I returned to the hearing aid centre and took the tests again. This time both of my ears were suspect. I knew that I needed to get hearingaids again because when my wife talked to me from another room or from a short distance, I was not catching what she said. Often I had tointerpret from her comments rather than having any precise sense of her words.

After a detailed session with audiologist Cheryl, I purchased Phonak Bolero V50 hearing aids at $1900 apiece, no small change to be sure.However, once installed, I began to hear things I’d not experienced for years. The tiniest insect buzzing and a woodpecker tapping nowfunneled into my (new) ears.

And then it happened. Returning from a trip to Spokane, my Phonak earpiece began to emit piercing sounds. If I moved my head, theshrieking sound happened, if I placed my hand beside my ear, the device whistled, and if I touched the brim of my Tilley hat, horriblesqueaks occurred. I thought somehow I’d damaged the equipment.

But I returned to the clinic, and they said they would look after it. They looked at my devices and working with a computer program, theyutilized a whistle-blocker, which got rid of some of the problem. Then they used the same computer scan and added feedback protection. Ina sense, in minutes they cured my hearing aid problem.

I am now hearing 100 per cent, and it’s a joy to hear everyday sounds. It’s also a pleasure to know what’s going on around me.