The Hearing Husband and I seem to get antsy if we’re in one place for too long.  Maybe we just get bored with too much togetherness and decide we need to ‘see the family’, hit the open road and climb a few hills.

This means we’re frequently packing and unpacking and packing again. You’d think we’d have nailed the list of things to go in the suitcase. You also might correctly guess that on each and every trip something ‘important’ gets left behind. Often it’s just “oh shoot, I forgot to bring my gray running shoes.”  No real panic.

But if you’re a HoH like me – someone with hearing loss – and the left-behind item is essential to communication, that’s cause to break out in a sweat, yell OMG, and start tearing through every bag in the hope that you’ve simply put it in the wrong place.

At Christmas time, while visiting family in California, I discovered I didn’t have the right wax guards for one of my hearing aids. This might not set your heart thumping, but if I try to use a wax guard not designed for my hearing aid, it might fall out in my ear, adhere to my ear drum and require professional help getting it out. Been there, done that, never again thank you. Or, I could just go without the wax guard for a while and hope that not too much ka-ka works its way into my hearing aid and cause inner damage. Also been there, done that, no way thanks.

I phoned several clinics in the San Jose vicinity and finally found one a few miles away that carried my brand. I was almost crying with gratitude and relief as I picked them up – always a bit embarrassing in front of strangers.

So now, as we prepare to head off in our trusty fifth wheel, Flag, I’ve got a hearing travel checklist that, before we leave, will be triple-checked. You know, like your passport – you never stop fingering it until you’ve made it through customs without being arrested.

This is what I’m taking: 

An Artistic Display of Some of the Stuff

  • Hearing Aids (2): I always take a backup hearing aid when I travel. Actually, I wear each of these hearing aids for different reasons, so both are essential.
  • Cochlear Implant:

Sound processor

Extra hair clip

Remote Assistant

Phone clip

MiniMic2 (an all-purpose must have – for example, the Hearing Husband can talk into this while we’re hiking and I don’t have crane my neck to read his lips, thus perhaps falling off the trail cliff.)

Connector cable (for iPhone and iPad and computer)

Charger for c/, d/ and e/. Very important – things simply don’t work if they’re not charged. No amount of yelling will change this.

Other bits of cord that I can never figure out what they do, but don’t want to leave them behind  just in case.

  • Batteries (many, many packages – I’ll be away for 3 months)
    • Size 312 for one hearing aid
    • Size 13 for the other
    • Size 675 for the Sound Processor
  • Smartphone: Connects me to everything! Along with the CI’s remote assistant, an app allows me to use the MiniMic to listen to my phone and iPad.
  • Neckloop that also lets me to listen via telecoil on both my hearing aid and cochlear implant.
  • Information booklets for my cochlear implant. The internet has all the info I  need, but you just feel better having the paper copy, you know? Power outages.
  • Secret storage place for websites, passwords, technology serial numbers, and other important stuff if I need to contact any of the manufacturers.
  • Cleaning supplies for all hearing aids and sound processors.
  • Drying aids: one electric one for the cochlear implant and a more portable, non-electric one perfect for hearing aids.

And so, the HoH hits the road again. This time, well-armed with all the necessary technology and doo-dads, which I can keep charged in Flag, I plan on having a dazzling and connected few weeks traveling the American western wilderness. Unless there’s that one thing that I forgot….


Kathi Mestayer is an occasional contributor to the Better Hearing Consumer. This week, she shares two startling discoveries she made when she felt the urge to blow.


by Kathi Mestayer


Just before the holidays, I was standing at the kitchen counter, listening to NPR’s morning news show, and I felt a little stuffed up. I grabbed a tissue and blew my nose. Instantly, as if by magic, the volume on the radio went up by half! At least!

After turning it down a bit (maybe not quite as much as it went up), I realized that my ears must have been blocked up. Interesting. Could this be why I’d been having more trouble hearing things lately (notably, my husband, but what else is new)? I had been a little congested, which is not unusual at this time of year when chronic sinus problems kick in. I took my temperature with my vintage mercury-and-glass thermometer, but it was just below 98.6. End of story, or so I thought.

Coincidentally, I had an appointment with the doctor that day to go over my back x-rays. The high-tech, digital thermometer said my temperature was 98.4….so the mercury thermometer is still right!

After the x-ray discussion, I told the doctor about the congestion and the surprise nose-blowing volume boost. She left the room and popped back in with the little device she uses to peer into my ears, nose, and throat. I took my hearing aids out, and she saw a little puffiness in my right ear. Then, as she looked up my right nostril, she raised her eyebrow. That got my attention.

Next came the stethoscope and I took really, really deep breaths (I am a very obedient patient). When she finally pulled away from my chest, she said, “You have pneumonia.  Walking pneumonia.”  Huh, how could that be? I had no temperature. I felt okay.

But apparently they call it walking pneumonia because it’s such a mild form of pneumonia (usually caused by a bacterial infection) that people often think they just have a cold. In some cases, walking pneumonia can cause a middle ear infection with temporary hearing loss. In addition, untreated walking pneumonia can lead to permanent hearing damage. So, now I’m on steroids plus antibiotics, have an inhaler to use as needed, and carry around tissues (or extra little party napkins that I decided I’d never use.)

For the time being, if I notice (or think I notice) I’m having a little more trouble hearing than usual, I blow my nose and it works like a charm. At the pharmacy last week, I noticed a young woman and her son waiting for their prescription to be filled. He was a cutie, with a Star Wars sword that was too big for him sticking up from behind his shoulder. As I headed for the door, I heard something, but figured it was the mother and son talking. 

Then, two steps out the door, I heard it again, louder this time. It was the Star Warrior, propping the big door open with his foot, smiling at me and saying…something. So, I walked with him back inside and looked at his mother who said, “He said Happy New Year!” 

Oh, FCOL (For Cryin’ Out Loud)! You’d think I’d have figured that one out. I smiled at her, and said, “I’m hard of hearing, and stuffed up, so it’s worse than usual.” She got it.

I left again, this time wishing the little boy a happy new year, got into the car, and blew my nose. And in case you’re curious, this is the napkin I blow my nose on when I’m out of tissues:



kathi mestayerKathi Mestayer writes for Hearing Health Magazine, Be Hear Now on, and serves on the Board of the Virginia Department for the Deaf and Hard-of-Hearing.  In this photo she is using her iPhone with a neckloop, audio jack, and t-coils which connects her to FaceTime, VoiceOver, turn-by-turn navigation, stereo music and movies, and output from third party apps, including games, audiobooks, and educational programs.