I know. I’ve suffered with this condition, and been hunting for, wearing and fitting hearing aids that try to cope with those issues for over twenty years.
Oh, I can fool you around the lab, or at home when it’s quiet. But, you get me in a social situation with half a dozen conversations going on around me, and I get dumb real fast. It’s embarrassing. I can hear, but I don’t understand. I know when folks are talking to me, I get part of it, but I miss so many of the speech cues, that carrying on a conversation in those environments becomes really problematic, stressful work for me, really quickly.
Over the years I’ve worn every style. When I say worn, actually I mean, at least listen to. Some sounded so bad that they went right back into the box and left me wondering how on earth anyone could wear such a thing. Some were custom, some not. Some I wore on a day to day basis for more extended evaluations. Some actually worked well in those less complex sound environments and some really helped with my appreciation of music, er, ah well, some of the time.
Being in that unique position of both hearing aid user, and independent dispenser, means having about every manufacturer wanting me to sell their products to my patients. It provides me with the opportunity to have tried out an incredible number, and style of hearing aids. Doing so, I’ve developed a set of criteria, for what I consider the “Holy Grail” of what, I’m looking for in my own system.
First: Transparency. I don’t want to hear my hearing aids. I want to put them on, and forget them. That means when I put them on they go on easy, stay on, and be so comfortable from both a fit and feel standpoint, that I forget they are there.
Next: They’ve got to work. I’ve got to be able to understand people without having to work at it, the first time. Not just around a quiet office, or dinner table, but in whatever environment I find myself in. Whether it’s in the truck, garden, grass flats, or across the street at Matt’s on a crowded Friday night, they have to work. They have to work without me having to fiddle with them, or worry about them, even when I’m sopping wet with sweat, or caught in one of our frequent summer thunderstorms.
Third: Connectivity. I live in a connected world. The twenty first century pretty much means lots of us are. I’m on the phone multiple times a day. I have to respond to multiple emails and texts from family, friends, colleagues, business associates, and vendors.
Many times I need to do this while on the move, and while doing something else with my hands, like driving. When I’m taking, or making calls, I don’t want to have to fiddle with my hearing aids, or necessarily my phone.
My standards also mean the hearing aids have to pair, and connect, and disconnect easily with my iPhone, iPad, Tablet, or Droid. This, because we hip Boomers are enjoying more, and more of our media streamed personally, and on demand from these devices. And, we are on them more and more.
It’s been three weeks since I upgraded from the Rexton thirtysix channel Strata 18s to the forty-eight channel Siemens Pure 7mi system. Last night was pretty much the acid test. Performance in a noisy, multi-conversation restaurant environment, followed by immersion in a Florida thunderstorm. They had already performed everything else on my evaluation list.
The love of my life and I were downtown for me to print a closed for Labor day sign. I’d gotten that dreaded, “out of ink” notice from the office printer, when I’d tried to do it earlier so we could relax after a long week at home. But, she’d shut down for lack of yellow.
After a swing by OfficeMax, late on a Holiday Friday for the required refill, I finally taped the sign to the inside of the door. I asked Joanie, if she’d like to eat out, seeing as how Fridays were normally ‘date’ nights, and she said sure.
The western sky was heavy and black. Just a vivid sliver of orange at the horizon. The east was an amazing greenish glow. But, Downtown Melbourne was jumping. People were everywhere. We’d been blessed to find a spot across from the office, as parking was scarce. We could hear the patio band from Matt’s Casbah, down the block, as soon as we stepped out of the office.
Dinner was great. I didn’t miss a thing. Nor, did I have to ask Joan what she, or anyone else said. This, despite my hearing loss, and being pretty much in the middle of about sixty other diners, all immersed in their own conversations. We were able to carry on a normal conversation, in a very noisy place, without me embarrassing myself, or having to work at it.
It wasn’t that I didn’t notice the frequent piercing laugh coming from the girls night out table three distant from ours. Everyone did. But, my listening experience was pure pleasure. High definition sound that allowed me to enjoy a relaxing, rather than taxing night out with my love.
After a trying month, it was great. But, the test wasn’t over.
After settling our bill, we headed out. When we got to the front door, the streets were wet, and a light rain was falling. I asked Joanie, if she’d like to wait while I went for the truck which was a block away?
She said, “No hon. It’s just a light drizzle, on a romantic Friday night. It’s not far. Why don’t we just walk.”
So, off we went into the west, arm in arm. We hadn’t gone twenty five yards before that light drizzle swelled considerably. Joanie teased me about how I’d said those clouds were moving west, and then about how much colder, frequent and bigger those drops were getting.
As we still had half a block to go to the truck, we quickened our pace considerably. By the time we made it into the truck, we were both soaked.
Yet, I hadn’t noticed my hearing aids, until we were in the truck and I knocked one over my ear towelling off. They hadn’t missed a lick, had been totally transparent, even in a rocking restaurant on a Friday night, and were still working so well I’d forgotten about them, even after being caught in a thunderstorm. Not once, but twice.
It was really coming down by the time we got home. Drenched again, but a great evening and a great set of hearing aids that I will enjoy wearing, and recommending to my patients.
If, you’d like to personally experience just how great the world you live in sounds, just give us a call, drop us a line, or visit our store any weekday morning. We’ll be happy to set you up with a great listening experience, no obligation, or charge. Oh, and we’ll have fun doing it.
It’s all about being Patient Centered and Results Oriented.