Friday, June 14, 2013

Part II: Adjusting Bagheera Kona Jinx

To review:
  1. Had hearing loss as a kid, we never knew why or how it happened. Could have been that I never had it in the first place, but either way, the frequencies I couldn't hear were not determined till I was teenager.
  2. Continued to not doing anything about it for years.
  3. Finally booked an appointment (last week) and then got my hearing aid this week.
  4. Also, finally named my hearing aid (because I do that) and it is called Bagheera Kona Jinx, or Kona for short. 

Mysteriously surrounded by Kona coffee candies.

I know that toward the end of my last post I started rushing -- with all the typing and my hearing aid being in and on, I was starting to get a headache. There isn't too much that I rushed through though. The fitting and the alteration of the programming for the hearing aid took about a full hour. That included the audiologist walking me through everything and answering all my questions. 

When she first programmed it without any alterations and put it on me, she spoke for a bit and it was... weird. I've used that word a lot the last few days. Her voice was suddenly very high pitched, very mechanical, and all these other sounds emerged that I couldn't discern. She spoke to me for a bit and told me that was the "raw" program set only to the frequencies lost and then turned it down.

Basically Kona (yes, the hearing aid) is programmed for two channels and each have a volume range. My base line program is lower and the last few days I've actually lowered it a bit. Hopefully in a week or so, I can handle the base line program without having to adjust the volume, but for now, there's a lot of sounds I'm not used to and are distracting. The second program seems a lot lower and I've only used it once, which is when I was walking outdoors for a bit. I still haven't quite gotten the hang of turning it on, off, up, or down. Furthermore, it seems like each thing that I do requires some kind of tweak -- if I'm at home, at work, on a call, outdoor, and so on. It's mildly disconcerting a lot of the time.

The first day I wore it (which was on Wednesday), I found myself (obviously) hearing a lot of things I hadn't ever heard before. What this also means though, is that I don't know what these sounds are. It's one thing to be suddenly cognizant of all the sounds that are around you, it's another thing to just start hearing them and not knowing what they all are. So normal sounds and loud sounds are amplified which makes it a bit more scarier but then there are these new background sounds. Suddenly active and passive listening aren't the same things anymore. 

What's probably the interesting thing is that people aren't the same anymore. I don't have the hearing aid all the way up or on all of the time, which means that my senses are somewhat baffled with the insufficient or influx of data being received. For anyone unsure of what that means, it's that when someone talks to me when the hearing aid is on, I can hear them, but their voice is more robust and therefore loud so much so that I find myself trying to really focus on their words instead of their rhythm of voice, which is something I'm used to doing before. Because I need to pay so much attention to the words, I can't focus on them (watching their face) since I need to look away to really process things. 

That's just people... let's talk about the first sounds that I heard. Like my jeans rustling as I walk, my sneakers squeaking, paper rustling when it's at my desk, or water running. One night I heard Shiva (one of the kittens) for the first time without having to put my ear close to him and I started crying. 

When new sounds come in or badger me, I have to seek them out to identify them. I have to know what it is which is sometimes really easy and other times, it's mostly just frustrating. Currently at my job, they are doing a bit of construction and naturally, I can't see where some of the new sounds are coming from. I can't really sit in small rooms because of the amplification of the new and old sounds. Calls are sometimes difficult as well so I find myself taking Kona off to take them.

The other thing about it is that I'm adjusting to the influx of sounds so are the people around me. Sometimes they forget and then I find myself near clutching my left ear. They'll talk to me the way they normally did, which is loudly, in order to convey their message (and they don't always need to do that anymore). Some didn't realize how severe or moderate the loss was, so they've been trying to adjust their own (and that's been pretty intriguing to watch and listen to). 

It's only been three days, by the way. So, my findings are still premature and I've got a bit more to go. At this point, it's time to thank quite a few people who have helped me out in the last three days. My boyfriend has been absolutely amazing as he has tried to learn alongside me exactly what I'm going through. My parents, who watch me through Skype, have also been awesome. And to my three friends who texted me nonstop while I was getting the fitting and programming done, thank you because it calmed me down quite a bit. Of course, thanks to my friends who are slowly learning that speech, dictation, and body language are evolving things for me.

I'll be updating this in a bit (if I remember) in a few days, to see how it goes from there. 

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