Hearing aids and Phonak’s new technology

Today has been a day that I have been both dreading AND looking forward to.  I’m being loaned some new, high tech hearing aids for a few days.  I can’t keep them, and they have to go back.

Hearing aid technology makes leaps and bounds so fast that the technology that they had even two or three years ago become obsolete very quickly.

I have, what experts in the speech and hearing field refer to as a senory neural hearing loss that is prelingual. In plain english, it means that I have nerve deafness, and that it occurred before I had the opportunity to learn to talk.

I have little hearing in the high frequencies. If you don’t know what a high frequency is, think birds and smoke detectors. I can’t hear those. Nor can I hear an s sound. Or an sh. Nor always a ch. You can’t say what you don’t hear, so I had to be taught to say those sounds. God Bless Betty Oswald, my first speech therapist, who taught me to speak at least clearly enough for people to understand. The first letter I remember her teaching me was a “T”. For some reason I couldn’t say “table”. It came out as “cable”. I remember Betty saying a “T” and showing me how to say it, and from then on, I had no problem with the letter “T”.  I remember spending hours hissing in front of a mirror, and I remember her teaching me the difference between an S and a Z. She spent four days a week with me from second to fourth grade, and I thought my young life was over when she left speech therapy to teach deaf children. She was my oasis. The kids were constantly ridiculing me because I talked funny, and school was a living hell academically for me, too. Home was no better. I was abused by a sibling and terrorized by my father. Betty was the only positive constant for me, so I had good reason to be devastated when she left.

I had more speech therapy as the years went by, and even had it as recently as a couple of years ago. I’ve been complimented all my life on my good speech, and I’ve been proud because I’ve worked so hard. But, people could always tell. When I got asked in a fabric store if I signed or read lips, and threw a temper tantrum when I was finally alone in the car, I realized that if it bothered me, it was my problem. So I startes speech therapy, and it was a lot of work. I finally learned the mechanics of saying the S sound. You curl your tongue behind your teeth and you hiss. I finally nailed down the CH, and I improved the quality of my voice.

Despite difficulty hearing, I have always been passionate about music. My parents refused me music lessons because I would fail. However, it never occurred to them that it was odd that not only could I sing, I could sing on pitch.

I was at least allowed to sing in the church choir when I was old enough. By junior high, my parents weakened. I wanted to play the piano, and my grandmother gave me hers, which was in such bad shape, it was only fit for the trash heap. My sister in law gave me a guitar, which was too big for me.  My mother scraped up enough money to get me a 3/4 sized guitar, and I took lessons until my teacher moved. Frankly, I hated the guitar. But, I learned how to tune beautifully, and I learned to read music. When I started dating, I kept my boyfriend’s guitar in tune because he was and is, since he’s now my husband, tone deaf.

I continued to sing in choirs, and after I got married, got new hearing aids from the Army when my husband was active duty Army, a set later from the state of Texas, and later when my husband went back on active duty in the Navy.

I found a good audiologist when I moved to Virginia, who has learned to ignore what most people would see as my limitations and go by the way I function. She’s recommended coclear implants for people with my hearing loss that do NOT do well.  I push the boundaries to the max when it comes to technology. I can tell when someone changes key in a song if I’m either familiar with the song or looking at the music, and I can tell by looking at the music if someone veers away from the way it is written.

A c


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