Two Ears Are Better Than One

Bored with my very successful experiment to see how long I can make a single hearing aid slim tube last, and motivated by sensational reports of increased hearing ability from my cookie bite buddies with two hearing aids, I decided to phone Clinic O to see if it was possible to investigate the possibility of hearing through both ears on the NHS. I dialled the number on the back of my ‘What can I expect from my new hearing aid?’ leaflet, noting the use of the singular ‘aid’, and prepared myself for a life changing conversation.

“Oh, ear day linit”, said the person at the other end of the line.

I paused for a second while the cookie bite cortex deftly reassembled the sounds into ‘Hello, hearing aid clinic’. Satisfied I was through to the right place, I continued in my usual assertive manner.

“Errrrm…I…er, I was given a hearing aid from you a couple of years ago, and errm, I wonder if it’s possible to make an appointment to see if I could try two…I’ve got similar loss in both ears, I’ve heard two are better than one…”

There was a pause from ear day linit, and the sound of computer keys rattling.

“You don’t seem to have had your hearing aid serviced…”

“Serviced?” I spluttered, “Oh! I didn’t know I had to get it serviced…nobody told me that…”

“Oh yes, you’re supposed to get it serviced every six months. I’ll book you in for a service, you’ll find you’ll hear much better with it after that.”

Not in the right ear I won’t, I sighed to myself, reeling off my date of birth and anticipating a nice quiet Monday afternoon next week.

10 Responses to “Two Ears Are Better Than One”

  1. 1 Carl Green January 31, 2012 at 9:58 pm

    Cheap aren’t they! Keep us posted on what they say. I mean the whole point is to be able to function better isn’t it? Or is it…..

    • 2 moiradancer January 31, 2012 at 11:02 pm

      Who knows what miracles may happen once they’ve valeted the circuitry and put a new tube on there, I might be hearing a pin drop in Pennsylvania when I’m facing the right way! I’ll see what they think when I go in, I suppose there’s no harm in me asking about that expensive second ear!

  2. 3 babs scott February 1, 2012 at 9:22 pm

    Just be a pain in their ears Moira, keep at them about two! I just wish they would send out a wee reminder when they need serviced as I keep forgetting to make the appointment, like for about 2 years now. It may have something to do with why I have become so dissatisfied with the level of clarity in my aids too, even with a pair. Although I suspect the cookie bite is just deteriorating further. Was at a CPD course last night where they asked for feedback at the end and I just HAD to comment on the dreadful acoustics in the hall where it took place (a vast hangar like space with vinyl flooring). I was tired after a day of building a Viking village with the class and my brain had basically fried, so wasn’t up to simultaneous translation of strange vocal bleurgh into deafspeak. Probably missed the most important part of the presentation.

  3. 4 Carl Green February 7, 2012 at 12:02 am


    After a long winded fitting session and some problems with the left ear. It seems that now having been fitted with the custom molds, I am extremely happy! I can hear EVERYTHING. I highly recommend getting 2 ears with some custom molds. Oh, the molds have a small pressure vent in them. They are a closed fitting but extremely comfortable. Don’t be afraid of the closed fit. Let us know what they say about having two 🙂 Best of luck.

    • 5 moiradancer February 7, 2012 at 2:57 pm

      Wow Carl, delighted to hear that the moulds have made such a difference, you must be pleased! I must say I’m a bit afraid of closed fittings after the audiology guy helpfully said at the first fitting that it made your voice sound like your head was in a biscuit tin…mine sounded bad enough without it.

      I have made a teeny bit of progress on the one aid issue, though, and they have said they will assess my suitability for a second aid in the near future, although there are certain conditions attached, which I’ll write about in my next post. Thanks for prompting me to ask about it, I’d never have got round to it otherwise and there’s been an unexpected bonus too…watch this space!

      Keep us posted on any observations on your bionic moulds 🙂

  4. 6 Rose February 9, 2012 at 11:11 am

    Best of luck with your quest for 2-eared hearing. The difference it makes does rather depend on the quality of the hearing aids a little too. With my Reflex Ms I felt a little as if I was being kept in an echoing cave at all times. When I finally won my fight for Phonaks I was issued 2 Phonak Nathos SP (Basically a Naida V for NHS) with thin tubes with custom moulds on them. I have 2 very large vent holes in the moulds which take something called a Varivent. I am also issued a selection of little plastic plugs which fit inside the hole and stop it up to varying degrees depending if I want to let in lots of background noise (safely crossing a street) or none (trying to hear one person in a crowd). I also bought a set of soft moulds privately and am really pleased I did.

    I heard a car alarm after getting these fitted and was able to A: identify the noise as a car alarm and B: turn my head in the direction of the offending car. Makes such a difference from the time when our shower fell down and my husband ran to the bathroom to see what the noise was and I went to answer the front door, and the time when I first left audiology with my Reflexes and heard a dreadful noise which sent me rummaging in my handbag, only to find it was 2 men up a ladder drilling into the hospital roof!

    I shall have to remember to book the Phonaks for services. Not something I ever had to do with the Reflexes as they always fell apart long before the need for routine maintenance!

  5. 7 Rose February 9, 2012 at 11:16 am

    Oh, PS. Moulds are not the opposite of open fitting. This fallacy is widely put about by audiologists as much as by the man in the street. You can have a closed fitting dome or an open fitted mould, and whether it’s a thin tube or a thick one is unrelated to whether the fit is open or closed. I have a set of closed fit moulds with a thin tube which are frequently described as being open fit just because they have a thin tube on them. A closed fitting does give you a head in a biscuit tin, but there would be no need to give you a closed fitting or a big tube just becuase they make you custom moulds. And it frees your hands up no end when you don’t dedicate half your day to the “earbud wearer’s push”. It’s actually possible to eat without propelling a hearing aid across the room.

    • 8 moiradancer February 10, 2012 at 12:24 pm

      Delighted to hear you finally got your beloved Phonaks Rose, which colour of beige did you opt for? 🙂

      Thanks for the really interesting (and useful) info on the open/closed fitting confusion over custom moulds, I must say I was totally confused about that myself. Technically I’ve got a reverse slope with a cookie bite out of it (apparently) so god knows what the mould implications are for that. They did say to me at the very first fitting that they would try me with domes and if that didn’t work go for moulds, but it meant nothing to me at the time. In retrospect, there must have been a reason for them thinking that open domes might not work for them to have said that. I had terrible feedback and distortion issues with the Reflex L so they swapped that for a Chroma S and it’s been fine feedback wise, so moulds were never mentioned again.

      I know I definitely wouldn’t want to have every frequency going through the aid when my overall loss is pretty mild, I think the open fitting thing is a marvel for mildly bitten cookie biters. I don’t seem to need the barely missing lows for speech (I think!), which keeps the background noise at bay, and my highs are good. If I stick my finger in the aided ear while the aid is in, which I do on a frequent basis for itch scratching purposes, the increase in low frequency background noise which normally escapes through the open fitting drowns out everything else in quite an astonishingly disproportionate way. This is quite handy when one wants to privately do a “LA LA LA I’m not listening to you” gesture during unwholesome meetings in an air-conditioned room, etc, but I can see that the low-mids could be tricky to get right if you did have to have everything channelled through the aid with a closed fitting.

      I think tinkering with moulds is a step too far for me in the quit while you’re ahead NHS, but I could always have them drill a hole through the wax plug and stick a tube in it for the ultimate custom earmould…yuk!

  6. 9 Rose February 10, 2012 at 2:53 pm

    You may find it becomes more of a big deal when you have both ears full of hearing aid, as currently you have one side much more natural than the other – effectively you have a side for hearing people speak and a side for relating to the outside world. If both ears are heavily skewed towards hearing speech (to meet NHS dispensing guidelines they have to be designed primarily for hearing speech when it’s a mild to moderate loss, and for hearing any residual speech and for “danger sounds” for severe and profound) then the naturalness – or otherwise – of your background becomes important. Plus you may be blessed with one ear that won’t take an ear bud, you have never experimented with the other ear before.My right ear conscientiously objects my expelling the ear bud in a pool of blood.

    Although the Varivent does take a certain amount of messing about (can Batterybot rustle me up a Varivent-bot? He could make himself a girlfriend) I am pleased with it because I can customise more to the type of hearing I expect to do at a given location. I have also noticed the different equaliser settings of certain TV shows, a closed fitting really helps me to follow US made TV, something to do with their sound encoding, presumably. If I leave the vent bungs in to watch the BBC then everyone sounds like Barry White standing under a viaduct. Of course, the more wrong you are about what type of hearing you expected to do then the more catastrophically weird it all is! As a long-time hearing aid wearer I found it impossible to cope with the *lack* of occlusion (head in a biscuit tin) with newer models, so they turned on the bass boost to compensate for all the sound leaking out through the vents. This may be why putting your finger in your ear with the open fitting in makes it sound like there’s a diesel engine in there, if they closed up the fitting a bit they’d compensate for the smaller amount of sound which leaks out by turning down the input, so it’s not necessarily a given that it would sound like that. Closed fitting makes it far easier to use a T switch on a phone or ticket office, etc. as the point is to remove the background noise of a hundred trains while you attempt to tell them which one you’d like to get on.

    One hopes they have not had a contract change in your area since you were dispensed the Chroma because if they have then they’d have to start you all over again with a new fitting to get them matching on both sides. Daleks ahoy!

    • 10 moiradancer February 11, 2012 at 12:06 pm

      That’s a great explanation of the relative merits of closed v. open fitting, Rose and will be really useful to anyone else looking in here. As you can tell, I huvnae had a scooby about all that stuff up till now, so it’s interesting to know that there’s another dimension to be added to the hearing experience with what goes on the business end of the tube. If it’s Barry White under a viaduct (LOL) I’d be happy, but if it’s daleks in a biscuit tin I’m in trouble.

      Must say I’m wondering if I’ll be wishing I’d left well alone this time next month and, as you say, any shortcomings of my current setup are confined to one side and more easily ignored. Like the strange rattling that happens in response to certain bass frequencies. I’ve just put up with that because I decided to quit while I was ahead after the feedback problem was eliminated.

      Gawd, hadn’t even considered the contract change aspect, but I’m heartened that a matching pair could even be a possibility. I imagined that in Mr Cameron’s cash-strapped times I might just get whatever is to hand for the right ear, forcing me to dress accordingly to make it look like a deliberate fashion statement. Trainer on one foot, hiking boot on the other, mis-matched socks, that sort of thing…

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