Step #2C – ON HOLD!

Yep – Sorry for the late delay in my posts. Many interactions have been happening between my insurance company, the audiology place and myself for the last month or so. At this point, my journey in acquiring the swanky new Oticon Xceed has been put on hold! Why?

Because the of the fine print of a waiver I have to sign at time of purchase with the Audiology place that states “Signing this waiver means the purchase contract will be between me and that hearing aid provider eliminating the insurance company allowed amount of the hearing aids“.

What that means is what was originally thought to be 100% covered by my insurance company is actually covered only 80% with 20% coinsurance that I HAVE TO PAY after Deductible. So redoing the calculation from Step #2B – it means I have to pay $1,975 coinsurance!

However I am not giving up – I am going to wait until later this year after I save some money and meet the deductible first before I recalculate and try again then.

So what now then? This blog continues….

…. with many other worthy stories to tell!

What stories or questions you would like to ask me as a deaf person?

No questions are little or big or dumb or smart…… Write it in the comments below!

Step #2B – Check!

Yesterday I had a different audiologist appointment who are authorized Oticon dealer. I have been a life-long Oticon users since 6th grade, so I knew of their solid reputation of manufacturing powerful hearing aids over the years. Ironically, my current Oticon Safari hearing aids were made for children not adults. This is a testament of my aided hearing gain that I am capable of. The only model that I was very interested in was the Oticon Xceed, especially made for people with severe to profound hearing loss.

Oticon Xceed UP S1 BTE

Oticon Xceed feature Brain Hearing technology improving speech clarity by 10%, reducing listening effort by 10%, improves short term recall by 15% and providing the user:

  • 360 degrees access to speech with less effort
  • Advance noise reduction system
  • Easy wireless connectivity to many devices including ConnectClip, a discrete wireless microphone accessory
  • Oticon ON App from Apple Store or Google Play to manage hearing aids controls and monitor your hearing fitness

Once the audiologist turned on a pair of Oticon Xceed S1 UP BTE (Behind the Ear) on me, I LOVE IT! OMG – sounds were very crisp and “there”. I didn’t have to have my brain “seek” out sounds. Now to be fair, there is a significant jump in technology between my current hearing aids and these hearing aids. Therefore, much of this improvement comes from the technology gap between these 2 pairs of hearing aids.

The Oticon Xceed “fits” my brain listening abilities and I expect to be able to have access to sounds all 360 degrees which I never had to date. I look forward to being able to have a solid conversation in a busy and noisy restaurant! AND Bluetooth! I will be able to listen to all of my favorite 80s hits music and more on my iPad or Samsung Galaxy S8!

Another perk is the battery size – 675. I was never fond of the size 13 batteries (which is my current battery size) as they never lasted as long as my previous history with the 675 size batteries. Usually, 13 size batteries lasts 3-4 days compared to 5-7 days with the 675 size batteries. Also, 675 size batteries are much more commonly found in stores than size 13. Lastly, I am not fond of the rechargeable batteries because I have a habit of “forgetting” to change my batteries which my hearing aids gleefully let me know by beeping! I rather carry 675 size batteries with me everywhere I go than risk of the rechargeable battery die on me abruptly.

So it looks like I found the perfect hearing aids for me….

BUT….

…. The saga continues – watch for the next blog post!

Step #2A – Check!

Today is the first of many upcoming appointments to try out new hearing aids. Today was Phonak day but sadly, the ONLY model that fits my hearing loss and my gain goal – Naida B-UP (Naida B90 Premium) – was not on stock!

*Grump*

This is frustration #1 of many – for the unique hearing capabilities and gain possibilities – I only match on ONE model out of sooooooo many OTHER models by same manufacturer and it is usually not available on stock because it is not “commonly” stocked. Told ya – I ain’t your ordinary patient!

Therefore at this time of blog post, I have not had the opportunity to “try” on the Phonak Naida B90. I did not leave the audiology appointment empty handed, I received this Hearing Aid Estimate:

This estimate includes the following for EACH hearing aid:

  • 3 years manufacturer repair warranty
  • 3 year loss and damage ($275 per hearing aid deductible)
  • 3 year office visits
  • 45 days trial
  • Earmold (that swiggling silicone ear plugs in your ear attached to the hearing aid)
  • batteries accessories (if applicable)

The grand total of each hearing aid?

*drum roll*

$3,125.00

I need 2 hearing aids so that brings up the total to $6,250

BUT that’s NOT ALL!!

Since these hearing aids are not directly Bluetooth connected as I hoped it would be, I will need an accessory to do so and its called Compilot II which is another $450

So what is my grand total?

*double drum roll*

$6,700

Ok, you still here with me? You breathing so far?

Normally this would have something that my parents would have had to pay out of their own pocket when I was younger. But fortunately (or sometimes unfortunately) as we evolve in our complexity of health insurance benefits, it slowly became a limited covered benefit for many health insurances.

Good news is that I am blessed to have good health insurance to cover this. Here is the breakdown of the cost:

Hearing Aids (2) = $6,250 = Paid by insurance 100% because the last set of hearing aids were over 4 years ago (mine was over 7 years ago)

Compilot II = $450 = Paid 100% by my Flex Spending Account

That means ZERO dollars out of my pocket!

But HOLD ON! Will I choose Phonak………. or Oticon?

Ooooooh the saga continues!

That’s the next step – An appointment with another audiologist who is an Oticon dealer!

STAY TUNED FOLKS!

Herbie – My Service Hearing Dog?

Happy Birthday, Herbie!

This is Herbie who just turned 1 year old on 1/19/2020! He is a Shetland Sheepdog – known as “Sheltie”. This breed is known for herding, intelligence and a very loud bark!

I needed a hearing service dog for situational awareness while I am in my home. I work from home in my own office inside but because of that, I am not always fully aware of my environment at all times. Herbie was intended to become my hearing service dog – a duty he is already doing very well on.

However, I ran into an unexpected problem…

There is a valid ongoing controversary about “fake” service dogs or scams claiming to certify your dog. Herbie is not yet trained by a professional to be a hearing dog but yet he is already doing his service on his own for me.

I don’t take Herbie everywhere – not even on airplanes or public areas – because I have other technology to support me in those environments. I do need his service in my home when I am at work fully focused on the task at hand but would keep me out of “attention” to other areas of my environment. Later after I get a bed ramp for Herbie, I like him to expand his service by sleeping on my bed for night time awareness.

Because there are no regulations or standard in USA on what is considered as “certified service dog”, I have to rely on this statement:

“Service Dogs are dogs that have been individually trained to perform a specific task for individuals who have disabilities. The disabilities can vary greatly, and so do the tasks that the service dogs perform”

Assistance dogs international

What Herbie does for me now is to bark at the following sounds whenever I am working:

  • Door bell ringing
  • Anything that fell to the floor (chairs, décor, etc)
  • My neighbors in the backyards
  • Deliveries to my front door
  • Laundry washing/dryer being done
  • My cats meows
  • Animals or birds outside
  • Any “knocks”, “thumps”, “clicks”, etc. sounds around the house

So to my readers/followers – would you consider Herbie as my Hearing Service Dog even though he is not “certified”?

Leave your thoughts and answer by commenting on this blog below!

Step #1 – Check!

The first step into this journey is having my first visit with the ENT doctor to establish myself as a patient. The doctor (ugh!) did not know Auditory Verbal Therapy however, she did recognize after my explanation that it is the exactly same audio rehab therapy that cochlear implant patient received post-implantation. Before I met my new ENT, I had my hearing exam with the audiologist on site.

I had a lovely conversation about my capabilities with my new Audiologist. Topics included: my candidacy for cochlear implants, its risks and benefits, hearing aids path, hearing aids manufacturers, my hearing goals, impact of my maintenance medications on my brain listening effectiveness and today’s hearing exam results.

For those of you readers are not familiar with how a hearing exam is executed, here is an YouTube video of the same examination I had today:

Click on the CC button in the video for closed captioning

As you can see in the video, the patient is pressing the button whenever he hears the sound. However in my case, I am trained to close my eyes and focus to hear the sounds so I am not visually distracted, meaning I am devoting my entire brain to listen in that moment. Since I am profoundly deaf, I do have a history of false positives especially when I concentrate too hard. During the test, I must be in relaxed and focused state to produce a meaningful result.

Also, during the examination, the test is performed WITHOUT my hearing aids on and its results are based on my “unaided” hearing – the actual natural (or residual) hearing I have since birth plus any aging erosion.

This is where I can get frustrated and forget I AM deaf! At every hearing test, I go in thinking I am hearing very well lately and therefore should passed the test. BUT, that will never happen because I AM deaf! Duh! So in my case and as with many other deaf friends of mine, its not the passing or failing of the test but instead it is the “degree” of failure that matters.

Hearing Exam results are scored on a grid called “Audiogram”. Here is another great video on how to read an audiogram:

Click on the CC button in the video for closed captioning

So, what did my “unaided” audiogram look like in today’s test? Here it is:

Yup! Off the chart I go!

Yup! As I have known since birth – I am 100% profoundly deaf no matter how well I think I did on the test! You will notice at some frequency – especially after 1.5k Hz high frequency – I am really OFF the chart! Ka-BOOM! However, it also shows I still have some TINY, TINY, TIIIINNNNY residual hearing left!

So after discussing the results on the audiogram and other topics, my Audiologist and I have come up with a few agreements and an action plan:

  • Still keep the cochlear implant as an option – decision can be made at the conclusion of the hearing aids path
  • Audiologist is an authorized Phonak dealer. Phonak is one of several hearing aid manufacturer that I would consider besides Oticon (which I have been a life-long user of)
  • Meet again on January 30th to go through a wide spectrum of Phonak models and products based on my test results, my hearing goals, technology features and my brain listening capability.
  • The selection of the chosen hearing aid model will be determined by the widest gap between “unaided” (hearing without hearing aids on) and “aided” (hearing with hearing aids on) hearing, the natural tone of sounds and people voices AND the technology features of the hearing aids.
  • We also agreed that if Phonak is not my chosen manufacturer, I will pursue another audiologist locally who is an authorized Oticon dealer.

It looks like at this point, I am pursuing the hearing aids path. In conclusion, doing the hearing exams, generating too many false positives, is like this:

False Positives Generator!

Stay tuned after January 30th!

It all begins today…

Today is the day it all begins. As I type this blog out in the early hours of dawn here in Northern Colorado with my two shelties barking to the dog channel outside, I ponder the importance of this day. Mocha coffee is an absolute necessity for I am not a morning person but forced to be one for work and for my dogs.

But first let me tell you a quick story…

I was born profoundly deaf however I was taught and raised in Auditory Verbal therapy which emphasizes in brain listening (for the lack of a better description) and spoken language or speech was evolved and developed as my listening skills advances and matures.

This means years and years and years of living with 2 powerful hearing aids at every possible waking minutes and hours. This allows me to “turn on” listening for the day. Obviously, I do not wear my hearing aids when sleeping, taking a shower, swimming or being exposed to getting wet. (Someday I may post YouTube video stories in this blog site so you can hear the stories I speak).

I have never went to a deaf school or learned American Sign Language (ASL) only because my parents wanted me to stay on the Auditory Verbal Therapy path. As a disclaimer, I have nothing against ASL or any other deaf communication/language strategies. I totally respect and appreciate those solutions for many of us in the deaf community.

Having that said, today is a BIG day for me! Why?

Today is the start of a long potentially frustrating and laborious process to upgrade my hearing aids or choose the cochlear implant path. Later this morning, I have an appointment with my new ENT doctor and immediately afterwards, an appointment with my audiologist. Why is this process difficult for me?

Every time I undergo this process roughly every 7-10 years, I have to continuously educate the medical professionals about my Auditory Verbal Therapy capabilities which over time forces them to think out of the box. I have never been the typical profoundly deaf patient! This means they may have to make recommendations or prescribe technologies and strategies they don’t normally do with other patients. Just because I may “score” well with one hearing aid model doesn’t mean I can “hear” better on it. I alone make that judgement. I cannot tell you how many times in my life I was put on hearing aids that had me scored very well for clarity in the hearing test but sounds terrible to me! In these cases, I hate the “twanging” tone of other people’s voice instead of their natural tone.

For this reason alone, I cannot go through this process alone. I require one of my close friends or family to be with me the entire process as I know what their voices sound like as a “baseline”. Starting today, my roommate of over 10 years is the lucky chosen “baseline” in this process. (When I was a little girl – it was my mother who with her perfect pitch hearing knows when I am “cheating” on my hearing so I could never get away with it!)

For today’s appointment, I copied my past audiograms (test results of hearing exam displayed in grid format) and past audiology reports, made a list of questions and topics to discuss at the appointments, went to bed earlier last night to be fresh today (after I have my mocha coffee, of course), took the day off from work and posted my 1st blog. Ultimately at the conclusion of this process, I would have acquire 2 new hearing aids or cochlear implants.

This potentially anxiety ridden process is the motivating factor for me creating this blog site. There are so many content materials of diverse topics worthy to discuss and share.

I suspect many of my deaf friends can totally relate to my journey and I strongly encourage you to comments with your experience.

For my hearing friends, welcome to my world!