Wednesday, October 7, 2009

What You Say?

The proper thing to do when starting a blog is to introduce yourself, isn't it? In that case, here -
I'm Megan, 23 years old, lifetime resident of Arizona. I'm a library clerk at a public library with the battle scars and stories to prove it. I'm kinda geeky, yeah. I like to play video games and learn about new gadgets and watch some anime.
My love for new gadgetry has come in handy recently - but let me back up just a little. I'm hearing impaired. I have been for most, if not all, of my life - it was diagnosed as a mild loss when I was four. Now, at 23, I have a bilateral, progressive, sensorineural hearing loss. Whew! What a mouthful. Hard to say - sometimes, hard to deal with.
What does it mean?
Bilateral means I have a hearing loss in both ears. That's simple.
Progressive is also simple. It means the loss progresses. Mine has worsened from a mild loss to a loss considered severe to profound.
Sensorineural is trickier. The article on Wikipedia does a pretty good job of explaining it. It's damage to the inner ear or the pathways to the brain. It's interesting because not only does it affect simply the loudness of sounds, but it also impairs clarity and understanding.
So why me? That's not a question I've asked a lot, actually. When I have, the answers are unsatisfactory. Inconclusive. There's no single cause that anyone, doctor or family member, can point to and say "That started the decline; that caused it." Could be a disease, genetics, something during my gestation. It's not a question I expect to ever be answered.
I started out with an analog hearing aid, a "behind the ear" model with a device that hooks behind my ear and an earmold. When I was 12-ish, I got digital hearing aids. They lasted me up until about a month ago, when my right aid began failing, and they sort of gave in to old age. I don't blame them. Almost a decade is a long lifespan for any device, particularly one that is delicate and devoted to such an important task.
So. I looked around. I did my research. I was astounded at the journey that hearing aid tech has taken since I got my fancy-schmancy aids at 12 years old.
They have multiple digital channels, remote controls, features that you'd expect to see more on a cellphone than a disability device. One caught my eye, the Oticon Epoq. Bluetooth! Yes! Bluetooth in my hearing aids, with a company name right out of Metal Gear Solid. How. Cool. Is. That?
I got them last week. It's been a little bumpy. I'll write about them in another post. For now, there's my introduction - that's me. Enjoy the blog.


  1. I'd like to ask a few questions about Bluetooth hearing aids, since you've done a fair amount of research.

    1. - Are there any other great competitive choices to the the Epoq Streamer in usability and functionality?

    2. - Since battery life is limited to about 5 hours in the Streamer docs, is the LIon battery easily switchable with a fresh affordable backup battery, as are most all cellphones?

    3. - Music mode -- They say that the sound is set to totally mute the outside noise when in music mode. Hopefully this is a choice and not hardwired into it. Driving is fine with music if you can also hear sirens. They should allow you to adjust both the music and the outside sound by providing a balance control. I'd like to listen to music and also carry on a conversation. Is that possible? Easy?

    Thanks for your time. Feel free to edit or just email back. Posting on your blog isn't necessary.

  2. Hello, Testing pg. I don't see any way to email you with my response, so I hope this comment reaches you. Thank you for your comment and interesting questions!

    1- There are a few other hearing aids with Bluetooth functionality. I mention them in my post on the Streamer here: Phonak has a SmartLink system and Starkey has a line of aids called ELI. I have not tried them so cannot speak to ease of use. The SmartLink looks a little like the Streamer, while the ELI is an attachment to the hearing aid itself.

    2 - The battery is not user-replaceable so far as I know. However, I think I usually get more than 5 hours out of the Streamer.

    3 - You can toggle the setting to mute outside sound, but I'm actually not sure how to do it; I'm sure it's in the manual somewhere. My Streamer automatically allows me to hear sounds around me, so I guess that's the default. It is very easy to hear both outside sounds and music without it being too interfering.

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  4. I also have the Opticon Epoq hearing aids and I am unable to hear outside sounds while listening to music. In fact I hardly hear any outside sounds at all and it seems to only focus on sounds close to me. I'm not sure if this is something I can adjust as I always assumed it's somthing I must go to the audiologist to correct.

    I'm glad I found this blog since I have the same hearing aids and will have similiar issues. I'm also a gamer geek but a little older than you and raising a son who is also hearing impaired.


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