I am a battery-operated person, and nothing can drive me to panic faster than the realization I’m out of batteries for my hearing devices.
A million years ago, I used to smoke cigarettes and I would never leave home without making sure I had enough smokes in my bag. I broke that addiction a long time ago, and now I’m addicted to being able to hear with my technical devices. Before going anywhere, I do the same mental and physical check to ensure I’ve got backup batteries on hand, because the last thing I want is to hear is that double-beep warning from my CI sound processor, or the waterfall of descending musical notes telling me my hearing aid is going, going, gone!
But still, you can get caught. I’ve done late Sunday night drives in search of batteries – at a time when most stores weren’t open 24/7. I got caught at – of all things – a hearing loss convention when my backup batteries turned out to be duds, the entire package! And I couldn’t find anyone in a crowd of 700 hard of hearing people who used the same size battery!
From then on, a single backup battery – or 2 in the case of my battery-guzzling CI sound processor – is simply not enough. What if it’s gone stale? What if I inadvertently drop it down the sink? (Actually, that wouldn’t happen because I never change my batteries any place except on a table or hard surface.)
But as much as I need batteries to communicate, I hate that I use so many of them. I just did a rough estimate: I have used approximately 7,875 hearing device batteries since I got my first hearing aid at age 20, moving to two hearing aids at age 40, and then swapping out one hearing aid for a cochlear implant which uses two honking big batteries.
That’s one heck of a lot of batteries! For years, I simply threw the dead ones in the garbage, aka landfill. Now I recycle them, dutifully putting the dead ones in a battery collection box, remembering to thank them for their service. When the box is full, it goes to the recycling depot.
But where do they all go from there? What does the rainbow bridge for hearing aid batteries look like? I’ve never been able to get a clear answer, although I’m told they are recycled responsibly…whatever that means. However, I have peace of mind in recycling because it’s one more good thing I’m doing for the planet. I think.
We are all electrical and battery-operated people to some degree and I’m grateful for the technology and the batteries that keep me charged. Not that long ago, the only option for people like me was an ear trumpet! Very soon, I am upgrading to a new generation of my CI sound processor which has a built-in rechargeable battery. Good news, less battery waste!
Now I just have to worry about the power going out.