This week I took the plunge and shelled out four figures to have hearing devices bespoke made and programmed for me. As I said in my blog four weeks ago, my ability to hear some of the younger kids in my film classes has begun to be nearly impossible.
The devices were delivered, programmed and fitted last Tuesday, and so far, well, I'm less than impressed. On the plus side they are tiny, and push almost all the way in. It's an odd feeling at first, like your ears are full of something that you just want to claw out. I accept it takes a while to get used to them, but I'm convinced the right hand device is not working properly, and is actually too big, despite molds being taken and then 3D scanned.
If you have normal hearing, try closing off one ear and listening to someone talk facing you, then from the side you've closed off. In the same way that closing one eye removes your ability to calculate depth, listening in mono reduces your ability to process sounds effectively.
From the word go the right device is difficult to insert, in fact, painful to do so, and triggers a back of throat reflex every time. The left slips in effortlessly. They are both programmed to pick up the high frequency range of sounds, which I have not been hearing for some time. With these devices that should be rectified. A simple test of this is a crinkly sweetie wrapper. I held it near to my left ear and very gently moved it. I could hear every crack and crinkle of the cellophane. However, I held it in the same position at my right ear and heard nothing.
I tried gently rubbing the tips of two fingers together in the same position. Again, the left was perfect, the right, nothing.
On the Friday morning I met a friend for coffee and we walked along the promenade. About 50m away the low tide was gently lapping onto the beach, and I could hear it perfectly. My friend was on my right side though and I had difficulty hearing him, asking him to repeat at various points. After a distance we turned back. Now he was on my left and I heard him with no trouble at all.
I think the right hand device is switched on. However, when I pull out the left device it gives out a whistling feedback noise, but the right does not. I changed the battery, just in case that was the issue, but nothing changed.
I persevered, and the ultimate test came yesterday with my students. I found if the room was noisy, with all the kids chatting at once, it was difficult to pick up one person speaking right in front of me. I managed, just, but the effort to focus was hard. With the youngest kids there was definitely an improvement, but not as much as I'd hoped for.
In the large hall at assembly I was stood roughly 30m from the Principal giving her opening address. She's loudly spoken and normally I have no trouble hearing her. Yesterday however, close by to me, two students were talking at the same time. The Principal's voice then started to cut in and out, as if she was using a faulty microphone. This was very strange.
Around 4pm two beeps went off in my left ear to tell me the battery was about to run out. The second beeps went off about 5 minutes later and the device shut off. Everything I then heard was muffled, until I pulled both devices out. This added weight to my theory that the right hand device is not working.
Hopefully things will be fixed soon. I'm fairly confident these are just teething troubles, and the benefits will surpass any misgivings I have at present.
If all else fails there are alternatives: