This past weekend, my ears got a workout during a writers conference. It started with a meeting room full of attendees networking. I generally love meeting new people, and this was no exception…except for one thing. One of my hearing aids quit working midway through the day. (I later learned the reason why. Keep reading.)
That morning, I sat in on a workshop called “The First 50 Pages.” Author Jeff Gerke wore my ReSound Mini-Microphone so that I could hear him through my hearing aids. Halfway through his session, I noticed a strange sound in my right ear. It felt like a piece of cotton had been wedged in this ear. When Gerke spoke in the Mini-Mic, only my left hearing aid heard him. The other aid remained silent.
During a break, I dashed to the restroom and dug through my purse for my spare hearing aid batteries. I removed the sticky tape on the back of a fresh one, took the old battery out of my aid, and inserted the new one.
“Ding-ding-ding,” chirped the hearing aid when I closed its battery door. Then silence.
I popped out that so-called fresh battery and slid in another new one. Again, my ear heard the ding-ding-ding-silence.
Bad batteries, maybe? I didn’t have time to dash away to the nearest store and purchase a brand new pack. This writing conference would just have to be heard out of my left, hearing-aided ear only.
Halfway through the day, after lipreading this and that teacher while listening in my one “good” ear,” I’d had enough. I retreated to the quiet hallway.
A woman wearing a fire engine red sweater dress dallied in the hall as well.
“I’m Shanna,” I introduced myself. “Just taking a hearing break.”
“You too?” she said.
After a few minutes of mingling, I let her in on the reason why I needed the break. “I have hearing loss.”
Her eyes widened. “You too?”
And that’s how I met my new friend, Leah Pruitt, author, speaker, and a mom of three with hearing loss. Does that sound like another Lipreading Mom you know?
The cause of my “dead” hearing aid? Ear wax buildup within its ear mold. After I figured this out and got it cleaned, my right ear came back to life.
What do you do to give your ears a break? Share your comments below.
Yes. It used to be as often as possible, but I’m getting used to more sound with my new hearing aids and I take fewer breaks now than before.
BTW, when my hearing aid gets plugged up it goes stone dead and I have to change a little wax plug component. So that is the first thing I now check.
Marsha – That’s good to know. Since my hearing aids are so new, I didn’t think I’d have wax buildup problems so soon. Fear not! I now carry a handy-dandy wax removal kit in my purse.
Small world to meet another lipreading mom! I take breaks often. It rejuvenates me and allows me to come back to “hear” not only literally (via CI and HA), but also emotionally and mentally! 🙂 Who knew hearing was so taxing? Too bad I don’t burn calories…
Denise – I am glad you understand. Thanks for commenting, my friend.
Shanna, great use of my picture 🙂 Since I don’t have hearing loss, I don’t deal with the same issue as you, but I do find at times that my ears need a break from the noise of this world. My children’s voices are so precious to me, but sometimes, their ideas run faster than my brain can keep up with! I like to turn off all the “static” – radio, TV, talk – and just enjoy the quiet. Then I’m ready to gear up and take in all the information my family likes to download into me.
Angela – Thank you for posing for the photog!
My hearing aids have stayed in 24/7/365 for 20+ years, except for showering & swimming: Very Nasty Tinnitus. Fortunately, hearing aids work 95%+ of the time for people to mask their tinnitus. [For more on this, please see Hearing aid amplification and tinnitus: 2011 overview by Doug Beck in The Hearing Journal.]
When I need a “hearing break” I stream my iPod to my Widex Clear Fusion hearing aids in “room off” mode (hearing aid mics OFF): Even in a noisy restaurant or club I’m oblivious to the world, blissfully listening to the Philly Sound via Internet radio.
Sometimes at night I go into “hearing off” mode: I have a special white noise program at a very high level with the mics off: I have to rely on the bed shaker in the morning to wake me, as I can’t even hear my Sonic BOOM alarm.
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Thanks for the insight, Dan!
At least once a day… for 5 minutes or 10 minutes… hearing too long gets exhausting
I agree, Ash/That Deaf Girl!
Being new to hearing aids i often fell the urge for a hearing break especially in a large group of people or even at home with just the tv going i want everything off.
Dena – Thank you for commenting. Yes, too much TV noise can be hard on our ears.
I’m so glad you found the cause, Shanna, and you were able to enjoy the rest of the conference. Like Angela, I find that I often have to turn off the rest of the world in order to hear that “still small voice” and give my soul a break from all the static.
RJ – I like how the ‘still small voice’ only speaks when I am quiet.
It is surprising what ear wax or condensation build up in the tubes can affect hearing. I always keep check of mine too. I also still take breaks from my hearing aids, but not as often as I used to.
Liz – That’s a good point about condensation. I’m learning that regular hearing aid cleanings go a long way in avoiding the dreaded ‘silent ear.’ Thanks for commenting.
Yup. I was born hard of hearing. I frequently have to take hearing breaks, especially when I attend a conference, or a day-long workshop, and so on. It can be as quick as shutting my eyes for a minute (and get accused of falling asleep) or getting up, leaving the room and taking out my hearing aids so I can breathe again.
Catherine, those breaks make such a difference, don’t they? Thank you for commenting.
Oh my gosh, so cool! What are the odds?? 🙂 New friends are so magical.
Yes, they are, Rachel!
Having only recently got my HAs (3 months ago), I have to regularly take hearing breaks… my brain has to work so hard to filter out the background noise that a fully hearing person would have got used to by now, that it can get quite daunting. Sometimes I sit at my laptop without my HAs in… then the phone rings, and I have to wait for the HAs to power up before answering (and I hope they’ve not hung up by then).
Nice to know i’m not the only one that takes hearing breaks 🙂
Dean – Congratulations on your new hearing aids! I hope you will look for your ear photo on the SHOW ME YOUR EARS page at http://LipreadingMom.com/Show-Me-Your-Ears. Blessings to you!