Searching For Clarity With Hearing Loss
Conversation for people with sensorineural hearing loss can feel like a never-ending game of hangman or charades. The clues are there, but the most critical letters (sounds) are missing, so you wind up playing an internal guessing game.
We find ourselves replaying a frustrating loop of “guess the word.” Sometimes Gary can make a reasonably close guess if he understands the context of what I’m trying to say. More often it’s five wrong tries, and I’m forced to substitute a different word or entire sentence.
In the past, modern hearing aids have done a fantastic job of increasing sound. Those with SNHL loss know louder is not the answer. When Gary’s audiologist told us about a new model of hearing aids with technology designed to help people who have a profound sensorineural hearing loss it was welcome news.
The audiologist fitted Gary four days ago with the newest ReSound LiNX 3D hearing aids and custom ear molds. A month earlier Gary had begun using ear molds in place of standard tulip style domes. He found they offered some improvement by helping to filter out some of the background noise.
Gary noted an improvement in clarity immediately, but since there is always a difference between the quiet setting of an office and the real world he deferred giving an opinion. He hadn’t felt well for a few days, so we returned to the main room waiting to be called for a walk-in. A large waiting area is a noisy place. Television is always loudly playing, and people are chatting. A very non-friendly conversation area for the hearing impaired.
Surprisingly he could pick-up and understand bits of conversations. Even though we were sitting with his back to the television, he was able to understand some of that too. Gary hasn’t been able to understand anything on TV for several years. The last few days have been exciting. Gary doesn’t catch all the dialog while watching TV but he does understand more and can use close-captioning to fill in the gaps. He can even look away from the screen, still able to semi-follow. The clarity is outstanding.
There is a noticeable difference in our conversations too. There are still individual sounds or letters that cause trouble, but it’s a definite improvement. We attended the funeral of a close friend a few months back. Gary was unable to hear anything. Today we were at a wedding. The same sized room and acoustics. He was able to follow and understand almost everything. What a change.
Road noise is still a problem. We’re hoping to experiment with the phone app to find a custom filter setting so we can talk comfortably in the car. We know Gary’s hearing will never improve. We’ll always be forced to play a few rounds of “guess the word” but until the time comes for the next evolution on his hearing journey this new technology has provided some much-needed relief.