Really, how many old hearing aid molds does a person need to keep?
The Hearing Husband and I recently sold the house we’d lived in for 16 years, and it was time to clean out the Stuff We Don’t Need. It was an excruciatingly slow process, the drawer-to-drawer, closet-to-closet search of accumulated things, deciding what to keep and what to throw out. Towards the end of the cull, you’re cranky and start pitching out anything you can’t brush your teeth with or wear to this year’s Christmas party.
Then, pay dirt! Literally. I discovered my cache of old hearing aid pieces that I’d forgotten I was hoarding—the brownest, most disgusting things I’d come across so far. The archeological find revealed five ear molds, circa pre-1994, which is when I switched to CICs (completely in the canal hearing aids), two sets of green molds that manufacturers use to make the aids, four sets of CICs, and various tiny cleaning utensils that, of course, I could never find when I needed them! Missing from the cache were the actual behind-the-ear (BTE) technical pieces, which I must have donated to charitable organizations for repurposing. Accounted for was the hearing aid the dog ate; the screws, springs and plastic bits surviving that midnight munch had not been worth keeping.
These old ear molds and CICs gave me a pang of nostalgia, especially the detachable BTE ear molds. I’d loved wearing them; they always fit like a second skin and through the years I’d spent many happy minutes blowing moisture bubbles out of the plastic tubing.
Sitting on my bedroom floor with decades of brittle hearing technology in my hands, I remembered those good times, as well as the silly dangers to which I’d exposed my hearing aids. Miraculously, most had survived the attacks and passed away of old age. By my calculation, 1 hearing aid year = 16 human years, but here are a few of the stupid things that anybody can do to shorten the lifespan of their hearing aids.
- Wear them into the shower. At almost the exact same moment that you think, “My, that sounds like a pretty waterfall”, reality hits and you jump out of the shower, taking the shower curtain with you. This happens fast, a split nano-second of time, because the potential drowning of $4000 worth of hearing aids is the only thing that could make you move that quickly—especially naked.
- Take your hearing aids out before you get into the shower. Such a smart girl—you didn’t leave them on the bedside table like you did for that big doggie to eat. You put them in your dry aid, which is on the bed with your clean clothes, awaiting your return. One small detail—you forgot to put the lid back on. And your cats are bored…and looking for something to play with…..
- Try to clean them yourself. As I mentioned in Nitty Gritty Tips from a Hearing Aid User, trying to perform a delicate operation for which you have no training is guaranteed to end badly. You just couldn’t wait for the audiologist’s office to open the next day and it seemed a simple enough task to use a needle to pull out the tubing that had receded, sucked by a buildup of wax, into the interior of the aid, eliminating something that was important to the aid letting you hear. As they say in my country – quelle stupide!
- Take them out to scratch your ear. In a dark movie theater. With popcorn-buttery hands. Seriously.
- Go scuba diving. This didn’t happen to me, but to my good friend Brian on a recent trip to Peru.
Brian: “You’re not going to tell this story in your column, are you?”
Me: “Of course not.”
Brian is new to hearing loss and he has those tiny, open fit hearing aids that are lighter than air and almost invisible to the eye. Even Brian’s. He went scuba diving with his wife and had a marvelous time looking at the lovely fishies. But when he got back to his hotel room he realized that his hearing aids had also swum with the fish—and one had floated away, presumably swallowed by something with fins.
But, praise be to Neptune! The other one was still in his ear, most likely held there by his tight scuba mask. Brian is a scientist and he jerry-rigged a dry aid using a jar and some rice. And after a few hours – the hearing aid worked! He was able to enjoy the rest of his vacation, although with somewhat lopsided hearing.
Back in Toronto, he went to his audiologist to discuss his hearing aids, both the lost one and the one he’d salvaged which was now not working too well. (Ya think? After being immersed in salt water for an hour?) I’m not sure that he confessed the full story to the audie, but turns out all it needed was a wax guard replacement. I should be so lucky; if that had happened to me, the hearing aid would have died and the replacement cost would be $2000, not a wax guard.
Being the envious type, I take some consolation in the fact that Brian and I have the same hearing care professional—and she reads this blog.
Take care of your hearing aids, people—they’re precious and fragile. Even if you don’t like wearing them, you’d miss them when they were gone.
Gael, I did the hair wash “panic dance” last night. Even after six months you would think it would be routine. It was a false alarm. I had stowed them earlier in the case. But somehow having thousands of dollars invested sparks moments of ” oh, $hit.” BTW, poor Brian.
You rocked it. Seriously rocked it.
My famous story is how I had the hearing aid in my hand (where hearing aids go, right?) and I dropped it getting into my car – and went home. Realizing at home that I didn’t have the aid (because I wasn’t holding it or wearing it) I laid in bed trying to figure out where I could have lost it. I got up at 2am – dressed, drove 30 minutes back to the parking garage, found my previous spot, and then got out to look – lo and behold, my hearing aid! If only it hadn’t been run over numerous times before I found it …
My late father wore hearing aids and eyeglasses. He went into the swimming pool with his aids on, and they fell out into the water. He didn’t even realize it until he got out and couldn’t hear Mother and couldn’t find his aids. He looked in the pool and there they were – on the bottom! He went back in but couldn’t see well enough to pick them up, so he had to get out again, put on his eyeglasses, and go back in the pool. He picked up the aids and got out, bringing them over to my mother. “Great Bob! Now, where are the eyeglasses?” Guess!!!
As a lifelong aid wearer in my mid-30’s, I’ve had plenty of these moments. The absolute worst…
In college I went on a camping trip w/ my boyfriend (who is now my husband). He wanted to take me fishing on the lake, so we loaded up the boat and were on our way. I was concerned about water splashing onto my brand-new digital ITEs, so I lovingly put them into a plastic baggie and tucked them into the tackle box for safekeeping. However, the tackle box didn’t seem to want to close, so I had to put a little muscle into getting it to latch. 25 minutes later, I discovered why the tackle box wouldn’t close…my ITEs were in the way and my extra “muscle” had absolutely crushed them. My spirit was pretty crushed, too.
Some people think their hearing aids can be worn in the pouring rain with no protection or and placed in their lint filled pocket. It is a good idea to have the small box the hearing aids came if needed.
lol what fun hearing of misadventures with hearing aids….tragic too when considering the costs. But i too have a story…
i was heading to our family cottage and it was HOT (much like today in Kelowna). After a 2 hr drive, i was ready for a swim. Quickly said hello to my parents and anyone in the vicinity, i changed and ran down the hill to a running dive. Mid-air, I thought, OH **&^! it quickly became a shallow dive and i swam to the dock to my towel where I patted the aid dry. You’d think after 15 years I would know better??! All was fine. Whew! but back then, they didn’t cost so much but still would have hurt my pocketbook.
Then there was the time my puppy chewed it up (the same aid)…..sigh
Had to commiserate and laugh at the same time. I have had hearing aids for the better part of 51 years so I have lots of near misses I can share but will only pick one. I was canoeing in shallow water with my aids on, so you would think I would be safe-not! The canoe flipped in the only part of the river that was deep. I somehow managed to keep my head above water, still don’t know how I did it, but the folks that we were canoeing thought that was the funniest thing they had ever seen. They said I somehow twisted my body and managed to keep my head dry. To me it wasn’t funny at the time, thinking, I can’t get my head wet, I have my hearing aids in!
As the younger folk say “OMG” so funny.
I have worn hearing aids for at least 30 years and while I have never (knock on wood) worn them in the shower I have, at least once a month, grabbed for my ears a split second before climbing into the shower thinking “Yikes are my aids in?” Recently I got a cochlear implant in one of my ears. Those external processors make hearing aids seem cheap! Recently I whipped off the hood on my sweatshirt which sent my CI processor flying. As I bent down to pick it up from the concrete walkway I was making all sorts of promises to the Supreme Hearing God in charge of hearing aids and CIs to “Please, please, please don’t let it be damaged!” Fortunately it wasn’t. Now I hope I can keep those promises.
I knew someone that put her hearing aids in the microwave. I thought she was going to tell me it was an accident. Then told me it was on purpose. First and last time no doubt. They melted and looked like chewed gum… never to work again!