The HoH Emergency Travel Kit

This is a short blog, because I’m going on vacation tomorrow and if you’re reading this, I’m already there.

As I pack for this trip, I’m keeping a hard-learned lesson in mind: always be prepared. To most people, preparedness means double-checking that all essential clothes and travel documents are packed and the cell phone is updated with crucial text and email addresses.

But when you have hearing loss, there are a few extra items on the must-pack list.  Here’s what I’m taking – clockwise, from top left:

  •  Noise-cancelling, large cup headphones that fit over my in-the-ear hearing aids, perfect for listening to music and watching movies on the plane
  • E-reader, a must on long trips, especially when the movies are boring or difficult to understand
  • Membership cards in HLAA and CHHA
  • Portable dry-aid kit for hearing aids
  • Shake-awake, useful when jet-lagged and/or hearing husband is too tired to respond to audible alarm.
  • Spare contact lenses (gotta see to hear)
  • Backup hearing aids (don’t they look like little mice-babies?), spare batteries and hearing aid cleaning brush/battery remover
  • Neckloop for my iTouch, that works with my hearing aid t-switch. Telecoil cannot be used on the plane as it causes too much audible interference; however, it works fine elsewhere. The neck loop also works with my cell phone, which I am not taking with me, although I’ll be on alert for Internet cafés.
  • Not shown, but also essential: Hearing Husband

Yesterday, in an organizational frenzy, I had my current, much-loved, hearing aids checked and cleaned. To be safe, though, I’m packing my previous pair of aids in the unlikely event  – touch wood – of a disaster. And it has happened, lemme tell ya. It’s an unwritten law in my hearing loss life that if something is going to go wrong with my hearing aid or batteries, it will happen:

A.  On a Friday at 5 pm, ensuring that they won’t be fixed until at least Monday morning, at which time my audiologist will find me camped by her door in a sleeping bag, waiting for the shop to open up,

OR

B. When I’m as far as away from home as possible.

I’m not being melodramatic.  Here are three incidents that prove a mischievous hearing loss gnome is hovering over my shoulder, waiting for an opportunity to cause grief.

At the opening wine and cheese of the Omaha, Nebraska HLAA convention, my battery died and all my backup batteries turned out to be duds, too. “No problem,” I thought. “There are 700 people here and someone must have a #10 battery to lend me.”  Ya think? Wading through 700 people begging for batteries is no picnic.  Helpful people everywhere were clawing through their purses to help me, but no luck.  Out of the blue appeared my angel-friend Liz Kobylak from Michigan, who took time away from the fun to drive to a local drugstore and get some #10’s! I bless her name forever!

On the morning of a presentation in Meadville, PA, my ‘good ear’ hearing aid died and I had to give the talk ‘deaf’.  A local hearing aid dispenser kindly squeezed me into his schedule and was able to fix what turned out to be a serious technical problem, just in time for my public evening performance. He charged me nothing and I bless his name, too.

At a talk to a group of audiology students in Kingston, Ontario, they wanted to see my hearing aid, so I pulled out the right one.  Only the top half came out, with pathetic little dangling wires, while the bottom bit stuck in my ear. I may have let a naughty word fly. Luckily it wasn’t my good ear and I was on my way to the University of Ottawa where the resident audiologist did an on-the spot repair. He has also been added to my list of angel-people.

Backup hearing aids (and a larger supply of spare batteries) would have helped me out in all of these incidents. So, as I leave for a trip overseas, I am hopefully well-prepared for any trick the hearing loss gnome throws at me.

See you soon!

About Gael Hannan

Gael Hannan is a writer, speaker and advocate on hearing loss issues. In addition to her weekly blog for HearingHealthMatters.org, which has an international following, Gael wrote the acclaimed book "The Way I Hear It: A Life with Hearing Loss". She is regularly invited to present her uniquely humorous and insightful work to appreciative audiences around the world. Gael has received many awards for her work, which includes advocacy for a more inclusive society for people with hearing loss. She lives with her husband on Vancouver Island, British Columbia, Canada.

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Jennifer

I hear you on the timing of emergencies… my son Harry is the same way. He usually has his emergencies on long weekends though – like the time he ate the tube out of his earmold on Thanksgiving. Fun times! We now keep spare tubing around “just in case.”