So, he did the only logical thing for a consumer faced with the type of terrible service exhibited here, he fired them, and replaced them with a company that indicated not only that they cared about selling him a set of hearing aids, but that he was well fit, and comfortable with them, as well.
The idea was that at least Ernie would have something to wear while Unitron tried once again to get his mold fit right.
However, over the course of the next couple of months, while Unitron wasn’t working for him. The Rexton aids, and I were. We continued to modify Ernie’s left in house, insta-mold, while waiting for Unitron to get his custom in house mold modified to fit.
The mold system we’d been waiting for, for so long from Unitron finally came, a couple weeks back, and we called Ernie back in for a fitting, hooked up his new molds, and sent him on his way. But, we let him keep his Rexton’s as a backup and for comparison. Within a couple of days, Ernie was back.
His reaction to his new Unitron Molds was,
“These things are useless. They squeal every time I try to eat, and the Unitron hearing aids themselves are noisy. I’m not understanding as well with the Unitrons, as I do with the Rextons.”
Now, the head of Rexton’s mold lab is a big ole Minnesota fella named Dave Prahl. Like me, Dave is a craftsman, coming up through the trades, and not from academia. Dave took the molds we sent him, and though they normally work from a full set of impressions, his folks took what we sent them that hadn’t worked from Unitron, and made a set, and shipped them back within a week.
The new molds from Rexton fit comfortably right out of the package, though without a full ear impression, Dave, and crew simply didn’t have the whole shape of Ernie’s ear to work with.
The results were that when Ernie ate, the new mold would work out, as the concha lock they had fashioned simply slid up, causing the aid to slip when chewing. Watching it happen in our lab, and listening to Ernie describe how, when he pushed just so, everything became great, we were able to do a couple of things, that turned this lemon fitting, into pure lemonade for us all.
Watching as Ernie chewed, it became evident what we needed to do. First, we modified the tip of his mold for better comfort and fit, adding some material to one area, and polishing it from another, till we had a snug, comfortable fit. Then we moved on to doing something to keep it there.
Most folks don’t realize it, but for lots of us, the outer ear canal is a very mobile place. Each time we chew, or talk, our mandible, or jaw bone impinges somewhat into the front, lower section of our ear canals. Some folks, more than others.
In Ernie’s case, with the extremely excavated ear, due to the repeated mastoid surgeries, the action was somewhat exaggerated, causing his mold to slide out when he talks, or chews.
We’d had what we call in the trade a “concha” lock, or little extension of material put onto the bottom of Ernie’s mold to push back against this action, keeping the aid in place. The problem was, that this extension was simply sliding upward into the bowl of Ernie’s ear, as he chewed. It wasn’t catching on anything that would hold, or push back.
Not having a complete ear impression, that would have included all of the features of Ernie’s ear was the problem. Dave, and company up at Rexton, simply hadn’t had enough of his ear to know this. But, there it was, staring me in the face.
Looking down while Ernie chewed, I noticed that, as the mold worked out, it slid right past a very pronounced intertragal notch. The space between that little flap that sticks out from your face and meets the little flap from the back of the bowl of your ear called the anti-tragus.
That notch was the key. By simply remaking the concha lock on the bottom of this mold with a fork in it, we solved the problem.
Now, whenever Ernie chews, the little extension on the bottom of his mold catches on the bottom of this notch, and back of his ear, simply pushing it back into place. It took about thirty minutes, then a follow-up to polish for comfort the next day, and we had our fit.
Ernie loves his new fit, and the new Rexton Strata 12’s he’s wearing. He’s leaving for home in a week, or two, and we’ll miss him till next year.
But, Ernie, and his case are truly a blessing to us. He allowed us to not only work through a very difficult fitting, but kept his faith in us, and eye on the prize of what we could do. He challenged us to do better, and gratefully we were able to, even though it took Rexton coming to the rescue to help us do it.
Thanks to Ernie for his patience, and to Dave Prahl, and his mold lab crew, for being able to not only follow directions, but make me a mold we could work with, in less than a week, where their competition at Unitron hadn’t been able to do either in almost a year.
The fine folks at Rexton, like Dave, allow us to stay patient centered, and results oriented, even on those really tough fits.
Thank you all.