Sunday, February 14, 2010

Listening checks and keeping ear molds clean

Julia finished up January with a nasty head cold.  Her hearing typically takes a dive when she's congested. We went to the doctor figuring she had an ear infection.  There wasn't even fluid in her ears, but her left ear had a large ball of wax in the canal.  The doctor irrigated and washed the wax ball away.  Now she is saying that her left ear hurts.  I'm having fits.  Did they scratch her ear digging around in there?  Is she getting an outer ear infection?

She gave me a near anxiety attack a week later when she suddenly couldn't hear at all.

I figured her batteries had died.  I was painting the entry way and she was in the living room watching Pinocchio.  Perhaps she neglected to tell me the hearing aids were beeping.  We couldn't communicate to figure out any of this.  She couldn't hear a thing.

I get the batteries changed and ask her, "is that better?" 
She tells me, "It sounds funny mama." 
"Sounds funny quiet or sounds funny bad or what?"  I'm getting wound up now.
"Quiet," she answers.

I spin her around and let her know I'm going to check her hearing.  I administer a LING six sound test.  The ling sounds are:  aaa, eee, ooo, sss, sh, mmm.  She repeated the first three only.

I took the right hearing aid and headed upstairs to where I keep the stethoscope.  I attached the listening device and said the LING sounds again.  It was working.  I looked at it and saw that some ear wax was in the opening of the ear mold.  I took off the ear mold and hooked the stethoscope directly to the hearing aid.  It was much louder.  So they just need cleaned.

I ran the ear mold under warm water and then blew it out with the bulby thing that came in the hearing aid kit.  I put it back in and Julia agrees it sounds better.  I cleaned the left ear mold and put it back in.  "The left one still sounds funny," she says.

I was at my wits end because she obviously still couldn't hear.  I remembered we had her personal FM at home and we used it for the rest of the evening.  It really saved my voice because without it I had to shout as though she wasn't even wearing her hearing aids.

I felt like crying.  I had to keep reminding myself that it's just the cold.  She's not getting deafer.  It's just that stuffed up thing we all get and it takes weeks to go away.  It had better be just the cold.

I'm very diligent about checking the hearing aids by saying the LING sounds and listening with the stethoscope every morning.  Before I put the hearing aids in the drying jar at night I inspect them to see if they need cleaned.  This winter she is an ear wax factory.  I can't keep these things clean.
 
The readership of Big Teeth & Clouds ranges from parents with newly diagnosed kids to adult hearing aid wearers that have cared for hearing aids for their whole lives.  To those seasoned hearing aid veterans I'm requesting that you please send along any tips you have on cleaning your ear molds.  And, how do you know if they need cleaned? Is it by a visual inspection or do you wait until you hear a difference?

I've got one little pair of ears here giving me a rough time!

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