Saturday, January 22, 2011
So despite what I previously wrote about slowly adjusting to hearing aids, and after talking with the audiologist, I pretty much jumped into wearing my hearing aids almost full-time. I do take a few hours to put them on in the morning, and I take a few breaks during the day as needed. I am happy with them so far, though some adjustments are needed at my follow up appointment next month. The aids have three settings-one for quiet environments like at home, one for noisy places-so far anytime I step outside, and a telecoil setting which is for using the phone. On the first day, right after I got the aids, I went to the pet store to pass the time until the bus came. I spent ten minutes listening to the birds with a big goofy grin on my face. I could hear birds before, but it was a muted sound. I was also amazed that from the back of the store I could hear both the bell on the door and the people talking at the registers, though I could not understand them. At home I am hearing things like the clock ticking, people talking outside, the cat eating or grooming, faint whining from Tetra when she wants something...the list goes on. The volume on my TV has been reduced in half, although I still need captions to understand speech. I had asked about my speech discrimination scores-eighty percent in my right ear, and sixty in my left. But I did not fully understand the implications of those percentages until I did some reading. These percentages are obtained using an optimal environment-soundproof box with the voice amplified to your specific loss. So basically these percentages do not reflect what I actually understand without my hearing aids, but rather what I can expect to understand in optimal, read QUIET, environment WITH my aids. Wow, no wonder I still struggle to understand people even with the aids.Very interesting and helpful information to me.
Tuesday, January 18, 2011
About seven years ago, I read a book that inspired me-Dharma Punx by Noah Levine. I really liked how in part of the book, the author read and followed a book his father had written-it changed his life. I have been feeling down about the fact that I did not do anything of any significance last year, aside from having back surgery. Well today when I went to the library, that book was up on display and it stood out to me. I knew exactly what book it was the second I saw it, and put it right into my bag. The book? A Year to Live-How to Live This Year As If It Were Your Last, by Stephen Levine. I think I am going to do this, and I cannot wait to see what happens. First I need to read the book, which is fairly short.
Thursday, January 13, 2011
Next week, on Wednesday, I am getting my new hearing aids, and I am very excited. I am trying to prepare myself, and in my reading have gotten some very good tips. The most important one is kind of discouraging, and that is to start out using them for an hour at a time, in quiet environments only. So much for my thoughts of wearing them home and hearing what people talk about on the bus-in reality the bus is going to be much too loud for me. The part that is really discouraging is the fact that the longer one has been hearing impaired without using aids, the longer it takes for them to adjust. I have been hearing impaired my entire life-I am twenty-nine-and have not worn hearing aids in about twenty years. So, realistically, it may take me up to a year to get fully adjusted. I plan to get books on cd from the library to practice my listening skills. I look forward to the day that I can watch a movie without captions and still understand what is being said, not to mention being able to have conversations without straining to understand, while still missing things. My main goals with these hearing aids is to comprehend speech. Environmental sounds are also important, but for the time being I have Tetra to alert me to those. I am thinking of the time I was in the library at college working on a computer. I heard an announcement over the intercom, but was unable to understand what was said. Ten minutes later I was tapped on the shoulder and asked-Are you almost done, we have been waiting for you to finish...the announcement was to finish up because the library was closing. I pointed to Tetra and said, I am sorry she cannot interpret English. We had a nice laugh over it, but it shows how much I need these hearing aids.
Saturday, January 1, 2011
What does Tetra do for me, well she has many tasks that she performs to mitigate my disabilities. I was born with a hearing loss in both of my ears, the cause is not known, but the loss affects my ability to hear many sounds in the environment. Tetra is trained to tell me when someone is at the door, and she even tells me when the cat is at the door. She has a few other trained sound alerts, but I also gain insight into surrounding sounds by watching her when we are out. I can take advantage of her natural instinct to look at sounds. This particular bonus does not count as an official service dog task, but it sure is helpful. I also have some physical disabilities that cause issues with pain, as well as balance problems. She can pick things up for me, assist with getting up, and also assist with standing and walking. Beyond that, I also have some mental health issues that she is able to help me with. One thing she does is deep pressure therapy, which involves her laying on top of me while I am laying down. This helps in many ways which may be hard to understand unless you have ever needed or experienced deep pressure therapy. Basically it helps me to ground myself and it also helps with the back pain and muscle spasms that I have on a daily basis. She is four and a half years old and I have had her since she was six weeks old. She is half Australian Shepherd and half mutt. In another post I will explain more about service dogs in general, as well as tips on how to interact-or not -with a service dog. Thanks for reading, and happy new years.