Hearing aids!

I’ve now acquired my first pair of prescription hearing aids!

Some assorted notes and thoughts:

  • The room where we sat while the doctor set up the hearing aids had a prominent sign on the wall prohibiting photos or audio or video recording. I was surprised and mildly put off—I never think to record discussions with my doctors (though I do sometimes type notes on my phone), but I think recording can often be a really useful thing for patients.
  • The audiologist was the same one who I had a consultation with a while back to choose the hearing aids. He was mostly fine. He spoke a little too loudly, but (a) I assume he has to do that for many of his patients, and (b) I suppose I’d rather have him speak too loudly than have to ask him to repeat a bunch of stuff.
  • The brand of hearing aids that I got is Phonak. (During the consultation, the doctor told me pros and cons of three major brands, and this was the one I settled on.)
  • The various accessories came in a little gift bag. (See attached photo, which shows a white gift bag, about 8 inches tall, with the Phonak logo and the words “life is on,” and green carrying cords.) The accessories include a TV connector (which beams audio from the TV to my hearing aids) and a “PartnerMic” (a lapel mic for another person to wear that beams audio to my hearing aids).
  • I had no idea that hearing aids could be tuned the way these were. The doctor put a tiny thin microphone into each ear so that it could “hear” the output of each hearing aid, and then used a complicated-looking software interface to adjust the output of the hearing aids to counterbalance my previously obtained hearing profile. Nifty! (I would have expected this step to be more automatic than it seemed to be, though; he seemed to have to do a lot of tiny manual tweaks.) (This tuning process involved playing a recording of someone saying a couple of sentences about carrots, probably about two dozen times. I suspect doctors who do a lot of hearing aid stuff get pretty sick of listening to that recording.)
  • These hearing aids are the most expensive devices I own, aside from my car. I was lucky that my insurance covers them.
  • They connect to Bluetooth, so I can use them as wireless headphones for things like phone calls and listening to music. I suspect that my Apple over-the-ear headphones have significantly better audio quality, but we’ll see. (I may be able to wear over-the-ear headphones over the hearing aids; haven’t tried that yet.)
  • They seem to be mostly working fine so far. Pretty sure they’re better (as I would expect them to be) than the OTC Bose hearing aids that I’ve been occasionally using for the past couple years. Among other things, these Phonak hearing aids have feedback reduction, so there’s less static when (for example) something sound-reflective (like a hand) gets near my ear.
  • So far, I haven’t noticed big differences in how things sound when I’m wearing the Phonaks vs. how they sound when I’m not. But I suspect that, as with the Bose ones, they’ll result in my asking people to repeat themselves less often.
  • The Phonak hearing aids are rechargeable. (The speed at which the Bose ones go through batteries was one very minor obstacle to my using them.)
  • I’m still hearing a bit of static in various circumstances. The doctor didn’t seem to be familiar with this issue, but suggested that it’s just because for a long time, I haven’t heard certain frequencies very well, so now that I can hear them better, it’ll take a while for my brain to get used to them. That sounds plausible. But I’ve heard certain frequencies and volumes as static ever since college or earlier; I’m not sure whether this is the same issue as that. Anyway, I’ll try wearing them a lot for the next couple weeks and see how it goes.
  • The Phonaks are a lot less itchy to my ears than the Bose ones, but it’s possible that I’ve been pushing the Bose ones too far into my ears all this time.
  • The doctor assigned a name (during setup) to each of the two Phonak hearing aids. Unfortunately, he typed my name as “JEd” for one of them. I assumed that I could change that in my phone app, but he says I can’t. We’ll see whether the capital E annoys me enough to ask him to fix it during the followup session in a few weeks.

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