So. About those hearing aids.
I’ll back up a bit to fill you in. This process has been dragging on for months and months and months. I’m not even exaggerating– I started working with Voc Rehab in July 2007 to get new hearing aids. I was working with a program that’s designed to give people with disabilities some help in setting up their own business. It’s really designed to get people off SSDI and earning their own income. I don’t receive SSDI because I applied and was denied because apparently I’m not disabled enough (the important thing is I’m not bitter about that *wink*) but you know, whatever. *waves hand* Anywho, they match up to $10k for equipment you need to get going, and for me, that meant, a new computer, display, software, and hearing aids. Well, like all things bureaucratic, it was moving at approximately the speed of erosion.
So, I decided, enough, let’s get this show on the road. I had my VR guy change the paperwork to halt that process and just get the hearing aids as quickly as possible. I could pursue the other program again afterward. I went in and got the hearing tests done, and found out that the aids I needed were about $1000 more than the state would pay so we’d have to pay the difference. We couldn’t fit even one more payment into our budget, so financing was not an option. You can’t squeeze blood from a stone. Well, as far as I know. I went on a mission to find the funding that could pay the difference. I was trying to make the calls, and was hung up on multiple times. Apparently, a relay operator sounds remarkably like a telemarketer. So I emailed my guy, gave him the information and asked him to make the calls for me.
About a month later, he emailed me… “Hey, where are we at?”
I replied, “Last we talked, I sent you numbers to call for funding.”
A few weeks later, I emailed him… “Hey, where we at?”
He replied, “Sorry, I got busy, but I have CR Hearing Center on the phone as I type. I’ll let you know.”
A couple weeks later, I emailed him… “Hey, where we at?”
He replied, “Why don’t we get together so we can see where we’re at.”
*drops face into both hands*
You get the picture.
On 2/6/09, I got frustrated enough to take matters into my own hands. I asked Tom to call Abry Hearing Center and make me an appointment to see if they knew of any funding resources I could use. I have a friend that is also losing her hearing, and she said these were just the nicest people you could ever hope to meet. Tom called for me and they said I could come in on Monday 2/9/09.
I went in thinking they’d have some time blocked out for me and we’d just be talking about funding resources. Well, before I knew it, Bill did the whole shpiel, testing and everything… and then asked me if I’d like to test-drive a pair of Zon 7s! Uh, hells yeah!
Bill plugged one into the computer and did his magic to make the thing know all the results of my hearing tests. He put it on me, and turned it on.
There really aren’t words to describe how that felt.
Bill said he had another one, but it was out with another customer while their HA was in the shop. It would be coming back later that day, and so I should come back then and he’d fit it to me. How’d they do that, you ask? Well, it’s one that doesn’t use an ear mold; instead it uses a tube with a rubber stopper that’s kind of like a noise canceling ear bud, and that part is what they keep on hand so multiple people can use that “loaner” aid. The tube goes from in the ear, over the top of the ear, and behind where it plugs into the aid itself. The tube is clear, so you can barely even see it. I don’t care if people can tell I’m wearing HAs, so I’m considering buying some lime green nail polish to paint the aid bright and happy anyway. I’m just kidding. Kind of. Ok, I can’t lie to you, I’m still considering it.
I walked outside, and the whole world rushed at me. All the different sounds were so overwhelming, so huge, so crisp, so amazing.
I ran a few errands and then came back to have him fit me on the other side. This time I hauled Hunky in, too, so he could see the cool stuff going on in the computer. This particular model plugs into the computer and looks at your audiogram, then compensates for your particular level of loss accordingly. For example, I have almost normal hearing at the highest frequencies, a moderate loss in the lowest frequencies, and severe loss in the middle frequencies where most voices carry on normal conversation. So the aid doesn’t boost the highs, boosts the lows a bit, and boosts the mids the most. He even showed us how the computer makes a graph with bars showing what I hear, and what the hearing aid is compensating for. As we were talking, we watching the bars dance up and down; sometimes what I heard didn’t even register any bars, and you could see the bars for the hearing aids high-stepping their little hearts out.
It was simply astonishing. I can hear the police car before I see it in the mirror, the birds, conversation… oh, and music. Oh, wow. Oh, wow oh wow oh wow. Music sounds right. Since my mids are gone, I can’t hear melody well at all, so music sounded… off. I can hear the bass parts well and some background, so it ends up odd or off-key unless I turn it waaay up, enough that it would do damage and prematurely deafen me. Which reminds me of another cool little extra… because these have like a noise-canceling little stopper inside the ear, it actually protects my cochlea from loud noise damage. When loud noise hits the receiver, it actually turns it down before it transmits the sound to my cochlea, so I still hear it some, but it’s buffered a little bit to avoid further damage. How friggin’ cool is that shit?!
I had those for a week, and hells yeah, I put those little suckers through their paces! I went all over town running errands, a Valentine’s Day banquet in a noisy ballroom, and a bar with live music, and even used the phone. And it was absolutely astounding. Like I said, I had no idea that I had lost so much hearing, and what I was missing.
Then I had to give them back when the week was over.
I thought I had prepared myself adequately. I was wrong.
It was bad timing anyway. February is always hard for me to get through, the worst month of the year when it seems like the gray winter will never reach her end. PMS week in February? You better put me on suicide watch, and I’m only half joking about that. I managed through PMS week and thought I had gotten through it. Well, the PMS had a fun little surprise in store for me. It cruised right through the P and kept right on truckin’ right into the M. The day I gave them back, I was hemorrhaging to death (well, that’s what it feels like, right, girls?), ripping peoples’ faces off, and on the verge of tears all damn day. I couldn’t even hardly stand myself. I became convinced that everyone, including and especially Teh Innernetz, hated me hard and that I was the bloggy equivalent of that pathetic little kid who know one picks for their team and eats lunch alone and *wails* no one ever talks to me on Twitter and no one reads me because I suck ass *dramatic hand to forehead* and WAAAHHHHH. Oh, it was UUUUHG– LEE. The final blow was when I seriously and completely. lost. my. shit. I totally ripped into Hunky over something really stupid and he called me out on it. One minute I was shredding him with my she-claws and the next minute I was apologizing for being so nasty and selfish and sobbing ugly-crying, snot flying hither and yon. He literally took a step back, shook his head, looked at me and went, “WHOA. Where’s. The. Fries.”
Not my proudest moment ever.
After he talked me down from the ledge, I admitted I perhaps, possibly, might have been a little more upset than I initially let on about giving back the hearing aids.
We talked for quite awhile about the hearing aids and our options. They weren’t exactly plentiful. The ones that I had test-driven were Zon 7s and they were $4850. They said they’d give us $600 off, and VR would pay $2200.We hadn’t heard back from The Lion’s Club or The Masons yet, which were two possibilities for funding. About then, CityGirl emailed me and said I should ask for help from my friends, both IRL and of the bloggy variety (i.e. Mah Peepull). I replied that I felt like I really couldn’t because it was such a high amount. Meanwhile about four different people came up to Tom at the Mission and said that they wanted to help me get the aids if they could. Then Hunky talked to Bill, who said that maybe we should consider that they also had two other models, the Zon 5 and the Zon 3. It was possible that I could get the Zon 3 completely covered by VR after more discounts Abry wanted to give us to try to help. I was like, ok, but truthfully, I was underwhelmed. I felt like I would be getting a little old lady’s hearing aid, and I’m a little more active than a LOL sitting at home and watching her stories and going to Bingo and Potluck every other week. I was afraid it wouldn’t sound the same, and Hunky encouraged me to go back and talk to Bill about it.
Which brings us to today.
Bill said yes, the Zon 3 was kind of a LOL hearing aid, but it would get the job done. He showed me the differences in the two models, the Zon 3 and the Zon 5; mainly how intuitive it was, additional bands and channels, and how it reacted better in special situations like a quiet room, a busy restaurant, or outside on a windy day. He said that eventually we could trade up to the Zon 5, which really was best suited for someone younger and more active like me. Thinking that he’d say something like $1000 or $1500, I asked, “So how much would we need to come up with to trade up to the Zon 5?”
“$400,” he said.
“$400?!” I squeaked.
My jaw dropped.
*skwees a little bit*
See, between my IRL friends and my bloggy friends and of course us, that’s totally doable! I’m sure you’ve seen how $5s and $10s and $20s add up real fast, so I’m so excited!
Once my VR guy returns Abry’s call with the OK to go ahead, it will only take one week for the new HAs to arrive! So, I admit, I’m like, rilly rilly bad at this, but if you want to help, I’d be so grateful to you for any amount at all, because it all adds up. If the budget is too tight, I understand. Maybe you could just help by emailing your IRL friends about my Etsy, or tweeting the url of my store, which is http://cantrememberdiddly.etsy.com. So if you could send your friends over to my Etsy store, they could get a purty picture and help me get my new HAs!
I would truly appreciate anything at all you can do to spread the word, mah peepull.