Review of my new ear

Receiving my new ear was a positive experience. I was hoping my CROS hearing aid would give me some hearing ability on my left side. I was hoping it was going to give me a chance of hearing some elements of speech on my left side; to help me gain some confidence in communicating with others. I was hoping my CROS hearing aid would provide me with some support with hearing in situations with background noise.

Contra Lateral Routing of Signal (CROS) is a hearing aid technology for people with unilateral hearing. The CROS system is for a user who has relatively normal hearing in one ear and has hearing that can’t be aided in the other. The receiving behind-the-ear device on the deaf side transmits the sound to a device on the good side. The user hears the amplified sound from the deaf side in their good ear. The person hears the sound from the good side naturally in their good ear, without amplification.

I would be trialing the device for three months to see if it would be useful for me. If I decided that it wasn’t helpful, then I would be entitled to a full refund.  The CROS hearing aid technology was relatively new, and I’d read that some people really benefit from their CROS hearing aids. I even read someone’s account saying that, with the aid they were able to hear in background noise, and it was like they didn’t have a deaf side anymore.

I was very happy with the way my new ear looked. The aid components were a similar colour to my hair and if I chose to wear my hair down, they were almost invisible. However, I actually liked other people to see them. When traveling on the Metro for example, I would tuck my hair behind my ears so that they were visible. I liked that my disability could now be seen. Before I received my hearing aids, I had felt some frustration at the fact that people had no visible clue of any difficulties I might be having with communication. But with my new ear, if I failed to react to someone on my deaf side, or didn’t move out of the way for someone, I had a visible reason for my lack of response. This made me feel more relaxed on public transport, and in the city. I didn’t feel like I was constantly looking to my left to check if there was someone there, or if the lips of the person next to me were moving.

The main positive outcome of my new ear was that it was really wonderful to have some sense of hearing again in my deaf ear. If someone was speaking to me on my deaf side, the aid would make a high-pitched distorted sound, similar to a ‘beep’,  for each syllable spoken. These beeps would alert me to turn and focus my attention to my deaf side. Without the aid I would be clueless to the presence of anyone next to me on this side. It was comforting to know that if there was a sound on my deaf side, such as someone speaking, or a car approaching from the left whilst I was crossing a road, then I would be alerted.

I also had some frustrating experiences with my new ear. The component in my deaf ear kept popping out. I would fit the mold correctly inside my ear, and within minutes, the aid would have squeezed its way out, so that it was no longer fitted snugly. This meant that throughout the day, I would keep having to push the mold back into my ear. Also, although I was happy that I would be made aware if someone was speaking on my deaf side, the hearing aid didn’t help me understand speech. The high pitched beeping that occurred in time with spoken syllables became an uncomfortable sensation. After my hearing loss, I had developed a sensitivity to noise, and the aids job was to amplify sound; this obviously did not help my sensitivity situation. I became frustrated because I couldn’t make sense of the beeps. I knew they represented words, but however hard I tried I couldn’t hear any difference in the tones to identify letter sounds or words. My good ear was also hindered. My brain seemed to be paying so much attention to the strange sensations and uncomfortable noises brought on by the introduction of my new ear, that it struggled to concentrate and understand speech. So in effect, the aid actually hindered my ability to follow conversation.

One of my hopes had been for the aid to help me hear better in background noise. This was not the case. The mix of music and chatter experienced in a restaurant was overwhelming for my new ear. It would produce screeching sounds and amplify all the noise I didn’t want to focus on. Going out for a meal for a friend’s birthday with a group of people, was a confidence draining experience. I was only able to focus on one person talking, if I could get close enough to them with my good ear to hear them. This meant that I wasn’t involved in the dynamics of the group chatter. I felt isolated and I resorted to smiling and nodding at people to fake my following of any group discussion or jokes. This is a similar overview of my restaurant experiences with more than one person, when I am not wearing an aid. With the aid, the screeching noises also made it difficult for my good ear to focus on conversation.

The amplification of sound from my new ear of everyday city noise such as motor cycle exhausts, building works and sirens, was at times very uncomfortable. Therefore a walk around the city would result in me opening up my aids or covering them to stop them working when confronted with one of these overly intense sounds. My life in a busy city didn’t seem to be a suitable place for my new ear. The city noises when amplified were just too uncomfortable, and weren’t helpful in aiding me to decode speech or make sense of the noises around me. The only place where the amplification of noise didn’t cause too much noise discomfort was at home…but home was the one place I felt like I didn’t really need to wear my hearing aid. At home I could generally hear OK when speaking with my boyfriend in the relatively quiet environment of our apartment.

There were also some strange experiences. One day, I had fitted the right component of the aid into my ear, when I started to hear what sounded like a radio. I had no idea where the noise was coming from. I thought that it was maybe something to do with the Bluetooth connectivity of the aid. Later I thought that it could have been noise being picked up from the television that was playing in the living room. Another time, I fitted the aids into my ears, and I realized that they felt much better; The sounds being produced seemed more natural and I wasn’t receiving the uncomfortable screeching noises. Then I realized the reason they were feeling more natural, was because the battery had died – The aids weren’t turned on! I was hearing normally in my good ear, but without the interference of the beeping from the device into my deaf ear!

I had willed my new ear to work for me, but it hadn’t provided me the support I had hoped for. After three months of wearing it, I returned my CROS hearing aid. I felt some sadness when saying goodbye to my new ear as it had provided me with some hope.

 

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Author: myhearinglossstory

Hi, My name is Carly. I am 35 years old and I am currently living in Spain. I am originally from a small seaside town in Yorkshire called Bridlington, and have also lived in China and Thailand. I am an Early Years primary school teacher, and have been teaching for nearly 12 years. I love walking in the countryside, getting lost in Madrid, going out for breakfast, taking photos, listening to music, storytelling podcasts, baking, running, drinking wine, and eating spicy food. This year I experienced sudden sensorineural hearing loss in my left ear. I have started this blog as a way to inform my friends and family about my progress, for anyone else who is going through a similar experience as me, or for anybody who is interested in learning about this type of hearing loss, and the way it can affect everyday life.

27 thoughts on “Review of my new ear”

  1. I’m so sorry it didn’t work for you. I’m disappointed.
    I know exactly what you mean by people seeing you are disabled now.
    I think everyone can see my “ears”. I mean, I have cochlear implants, and they are orange. You would think people would see them stuck to the side of my head, but when people look straight at my face they don’t see my ears. Still, people often don’t know I’m hearing challenged. (I’m sure that isn’t politically correct.)
    I had a boss years ago who was deaf in one ear. She lost her hearing when she was a child, due to an illness. I didn’t know she was deaf until she told me. She said she didn’t remember what it was like to hear with both ears. I know that makes a big difference. Like me being deaf now. If I had lost my hearing when I was a child, things would be much different now.
    as always, good luck my friend.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Hello Wendy
      Thank you for reading and commenting – it’s always good to read your comments 🙂
      I love that your cochlear implants are orange! i think I would be tempted with something similar – maybe purple 🙂 – if I knew I would be having something permanent to help me ‘hear’. It was good to think that finally people could see my disability…although, like you said, not everyone is that observant 😛
      I also received a message from a friend I used to work with. She told me she was also deaf in one ear since childhood…I never knew, and I had worked with her for 2 years! She said the same as your old boss – that for her it was ‘normal’, though she struggles in any kind of background noise.
      …For me, my main issue isn’t actually my deafness, it’s the pressure I have in my ears constantly, and my sensitivity to sound…but that’s all another story!
      Take care Wendy.
      – Carly

      Liked by 1 person

      1. I also have a feeling of pressure, it used to bother me a lot, but I got used to it. However, it may not be as bad as yours. I rarely have a sense of things being too loud. I know that can be painful and hard to deal with. I hope you find relief.
        Hearing with background noise is always a challenge. I really can’t do it. Stuart is always telling me what is going on. I’m used to reading his lips. Mostly I avoid it. Not the best thing.
        Don’t be like me and avoid people because you can’t hear them.
        ♡♡

        Liked by 1 person

      2. Hello again Wendy. Oh, it is so good to connect with someone else who knows what i mean by the pressure! (although obviously not good that you have it too)…It gives me some hope that you were able to get used to it. My pressure seems to get worse when there is any noise – the more noise, the more pressure.
        Yes, hearing in background noise is so difficult! I am trying not to avoid people. I still meet with a few of my friends, and have found it is easier if I just meet just one person, as then I can sit them on my hearing side to maximize the chances of being able to have a conversation. It saddens me to not be able to go to music events though, due to my sensitivity to sound…But, there are other things I like doing, and maybe with time I will get used to all these new challenges.
        Please know that I am so thankful to have your support Wendy – Living in a country where English is not the main language means that I haven’t met anyone going through similar issues to me. You are the person who I have met who seems to have experienced the closest to what I have been going through…Connecting with people like yourself on here has really helped give me the confidence to make progress in dealing with the new challenges that hearing loss brought. ❤
        – Carly

        Liked by 1 person

      3. Oh Carly, I don’t know how you overcome the challenges of being in a different country.
        However, being in the US hasn’t helped me meet anyone in the same circumstance as me. It seems late deafened people don’t get together much. At least not where I live.
        I’m glad my experiences help you a little. I’m sorry you are going through this. It is amazing what the body gets used to though. Perhaps you can go to music events again.

        Liked by 1 person

  2. My hearing aid did the same to me, mixing the sounds and made screeching noises. The fitting was a problem also, like yours, kept falling out of my ear canal. I wear between the smallest to the next size. the bigger size is too big, the smallest size is tiny bit smaller than my ear canal. I had no choice but took the smallest one, but it didn’t stay for too long. I didn’t want to deal with it, so I just don’t wear it.

    I do hope that you’ll find something useful and helpful for you!

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Hi Miriam.
      How are you?
      Thanks for the comment 🙂
      Yes, the hearing aid popping out was quite annoying! I had molds taken of my ear canals, so they should have fitted perfectly…oh well!
      I hope your tinnitus isn’t too bothersome at the moment.
      take care
      – Carly

      Liked by 1 person

    1. Hello Ralph
      Thank you for your kind comment.
      It was a bit of a struggle, but at least I know that i tried it, and it is now a device I can rule out.
      Hope you are well and are enjoying some lovely Andalusian weather 🙂
      – Carly

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Hi Carly,
        Yes, at least you had a go with it. If there is a next one I hope it works really well for you.
        I’m okay and the weather here is fantastic. No more cold nights. Yay ! I am sure that it must be the same where you are my friend 🙂 ❤

        Liked by 1 person

    1. Hello Jaylee. Thank you for your comment. Yes, you’re right, on paper the hearing aid looked exactly what I needed, but in reality it just wasn’t…I think this type of aid have about a 50 percent success rate…anyway, yes hopefully technology will continue to develop, and there will be something else I can try 🙂
      – Carly

      Liked by 1 person

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