Sunday, December 11, 2011

Pending Ears

If you were to spend time in my company, either conversing with me or observing me in conversation, you would soon notice that my hearing isn't great.  I often ask someone to repeat him/herself, because I've missed a word or phrase.  I've become reasonably adept at filling the gaps where a spoken word has eluded me, but that's a guessing game and I don't always guess correctly -- not by a long shot.

It's long since time to do something about that, so in January, I'm getting hearing aids.  I've avoided this mostly because of a perceived stigma (perceived by me, which may say more about my own biases than anyone else's), but things have reached a point where I believe not hearing well is hurting me socially and professionally more than any perceived handicap might. So I'm biting the bullet and will let perceptions fall where they may.

I'll have more to say about them when they arrive, and even more once I've had some experience with them in the real world.  But the truth is I'm kind of excited to get them at this point.  Almost hungry for them, even.  I've sampled what the world can be like with full hearing (briefly, in the office of an audiologist who I think was screwing with me perhaps more than just a little), and I was pretty close to overwhelmed by what I heard.  Heard!  In all seriousness, I was a little choked up.

I'm also not going to try to hide them.  They'll be metallic titanium gray, not putty-colored, and they'll be no more hidden than any other piece of enabling technology in my life, whether my glasses or my Jawbone or my iPhone.  And if they work as well for me as I experienced in that office, I'll talk them up to anyone who'll listen.  Already, two of my friends (both women), have acknowledged that they should do the same thing, and there are doubtless countless others in my world who have some sort of hearing loss.

I don't have the specs handy, but the Siemens units I'm getting are technical powerhouses, and are very, very cool.  The electronics package is housed in little lozenge shapes that will fit up behind the tops of my ears, with a little clear tube that runs down into my ears to a speaker and receiver placed into my ear canal.

They're programmable, and will be configured to offset my specific hearing loss (per ear), which looks like an inverted bell curve (I can hear just fine at the upper and lower ranges of human hearing, but not as well in the middle).  They're networked with each other, and will compare inputs and make sure they're amplifying in such a way as to not confuse the source of sound for me.  They'll also allow me to stream music from my iPhone via a Bluetooth adapter (!), as well as to use them as a handsfree setup.  They're rechargeable via a little USB-powered case that will also dry them out electronically while they charge.  No fumbling with batteries, once a week.  I've no idea whether I'll be able to use them when I ride, but I use my eyes (with a mirror on my glasses lens) much more than my ears on the bike, anyway (wind noise blots out a lot of what I might want to listen to anyway).

We'll see how they work in practice in the real world, and I'll share more when I have more to share.  I'm expecting them to be life-changing.  And I'm hoping not to be disappointed.

All for now,


1 comment:

John O'Connor said...


My name is John and I have a quick question about your blog! Could you please email me?

Thank you,