Sunday, December 6, 2009

Constant concern in an ear-centric household

During preschool on Thursday, I got a phone call. Julia's hearing aids were beeping. There was palpable anxiety in the voice of the go-between chosen to call mom for the teacher. I told her there are batteries in the classroom. I told her where the batteries are located in the classroom. I tried to calm her a little by explaining how to open the battery door. I gave them the option to call if they couldn't perform the operation and I would drive back to school and do it.

They never called back. They were able to figure it out. Julia gets in the car after school with the story already barrelling out at me. They changed my magic ear battery! Just the left one! I checked and graded them a "B" on putting the aid back in for her. No one gets all of the nooks and crannies lined up like mama does.

This is the first time we've had one go down when I wasn't around. She survived.

But a related issue has popped up since our last audiologist appointment. The result of that visit on the Monday before Thanksgiving was that Julia is having fluctuations of 5 to 10 dB at a few frequencies. Next time we have to make her wear the ear plugs she despises to try and get consistent readings. For the last three appointments, at Julia's request, she's been wearing headphones. The audiologist thinks this is messing us up. Thankfully, she believes the hearing is stable, but perhaps the headphones are shifting and impacting the results.

The audiologist took the hearing aids for a long time to check the programming. She returned them to us with "fresh" programming and explained that tweaking the programming each time can cause "compression ratios" and stuff to get messed up. She noted that we might hear a difference during our listening check.

I thought that I couldn't possibly notice a difference. I just confirm that they're on and don't sound crackly. But they sound wonderful. Clear and maybe louder and just plain better than before.

Since the "fresh" program we've had two sets of batteries die after only three days. Usually batteries last for at least two weeks. Occasionally we come across some wonder batteries that will last a month. Three days is not a good lifespan.

The FM will draw more power, but if that is the case we should have been seeing a problem since the start of school. We're left to wonder about the super-clear sound being some kind of hyper-power drainer. And my battery tester doesn't really work so what if Julia is false reporting low battery beeps?

All I think about is ears.

Then at bedtime Thursday night, her right ear was hurting. Ear pain about a week after a mild cold. Ugh! The next days found me with my head cocked, listening intently for the tell-tale slushy speech. Thankfully, the pain was a fluke or went away, but I'm still worrying over those ears.

Look for my article What Works at Home? Guiding Your Child's Speech Development in the Nov/Dec 2009 Volta Voices magazine (available with your AG Bell membership)!

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