Posts Tagged 'Oticon Spirit Zest'

The Upgrade part 2: Maybe they might be taking them after all…

hearing aids with wings

The very nice new audiologist must have noted my intensely misplaced interest in the Deafblind poster in the waiting room, because she warned me to watch my step on the raised threshold of the audiometry room as I entered. I was very impressed by her charming and attentive manner which made me feel slightly less apprehensive about potentially having to wave goodbye to the Oticon Spirit Zests. I had become rather attached to them, and it occurred to me that they had been listening in on every conversation I’ve had for the last 3 years. Ah, if hearing aids could talk, what tales they could tell, I mused poetically, wondering if if I could patent the idea for espionage purposes. Fortunately the Oticons had their battery drawers open during my previous visit to clinic O last month, and couldn’t hear their digital death sentence being issued by the hearing aid re-tubing lady. I cast my mind back to that fateful morning:

“We’re discontinuing services and spares on these Oticons”, she had announced gravely, as she rummaged through the tubes box, ” I’ll change them for you just now while we’ve still got some left in stock, but this will be the last time…you’re actually due for an upgrade anyway…you’ll get something nice and new instead, isn’t that good!”

“But…but…” I spluttered, “I got these ones ordered specially because of my type of loss, the standard issue ones didn’t work for me, I could hear the circuit noise…what will I get instead?”

Please don’t say Danalogic i-FIT 71, pleeeease’,  I beseeched my inner deity, despite it having let me down on quite a few beseechings lately.

“It’ll be one of these”, she said, reaching for the silicone ear model and plucking a brown chipolata-sized hearing aid from its rubber earhole. I should have been distressed at its size and general appearance, which was that of a partially inflated water balloon, but I’ve come a long way since nearly fainting at my first sight of a tiny NHS beige prawn back in 2010. Besides, the chipolata didn’t look like the previous i-fit I’d had, so there was still hope. Hey, maybe it was actually a top-notch Phonak or something…tssk, typical of me to have assumed the worst, I sighed. I tried desperately to align the elusive close vision sweet spot of my bifocals with the name on the casing to see if it started with ‘P’, but the re-tubing lady got in there first.

“It’s the new, improved Danalogic i-FIT es 71″ she announced cheerily, before turning her attention back to the disembowelled Oticons and doing a bit more noisy rummaging in drawers.

“But…but…” I spluttered, before the rummaging suddenly stopped and I was hit by the next devastating blow. Having to get my ears syringed again in preparation for the new fitting was bad enough, but there was worse to come; it seemed there was only one longer No. 2 tube left, so I’d have to have a shorter No. 1 on the right aid. I had a flashback to my last experience with a No.1 tube and panicked.

“That won’t work” I blurted unintentionally forcefully, giving the re-tubing lady a bit of a fright. She hadn’t realised what kind of peculiar exterior and interior head anatomy she was dealing with when innocently making her suggestion. I felt bad for being so ungracious, but it was just that the thought of having to gurn my way through the day to keep a too-short tube in place was very unappealing, especially in conjunction with the bizarre cranial contortions necessary to see anything through my new bifocal contact lenses. If all this kept up, I’d have to start wearing a clown suit to work in order to lend some gravitas to my academic image. No, this wouldn’t do at all.

“Just fish the old tube out the bin, and stick a new dome on it” I said, very pragmatically.

The Upgrade part 1: They’ll never take my hearing aids

“Don’t let them take your old hearing aids off you Hun”, pleaded the spouse as I set off for my visit to Clinic O this morning, to be lavished with a full hearing aid upgrade. I reassured him that, until such time as the upgrade had been given a full trial, the Oticons would be going nowhere without me, unless I was chloroformed in the hospital lift by the rogues who illegally sell NHS hearing aids to unsuspecting bidders on eBay. Fifteen minutes later, in the lift up to Clinic O, I made sure that I didn’t turn my back on anyone, just in case. At the second floor, I got out alone and with hearing aids intact and set off on the walk along the empty corridor. There was not a soul in sight, and when I emerged into the eerily empty waiting room, the ENT reception desk was unattended and all the doors to the rooms in the Hearing Aid Clinic were locked.

“Maybe they saw my name in the book and everyone’s hiding”, I thought, before realising there were still another five minutes to go until my rousingly early 8am appointment. I took my pick of the seats in the best vantage point for name call, and since it was so early that the telly wasn’t even on yet, I kept myself busy by putting my latest trial pair of multifocal contact lenses through their paces. I had been ready to throw in the towel after the first pair, but the optician is clearly an optimist and/ or likes a challenge. I focused randomly on the distant noticeboard, but all was a blur apart from the familiar sign made from four A4 printouts taped together saying HEARING AID CLINIC in one foot high capitals. Hmmm. It seemed I’d have to adopt my new multifocal distance vision pose to force the lenses into the correct alignment with my eyeballs to see any thing else on the board. I took a deep breath, turned my head as far as it would go to the left, then swivelled my eyes as far as they would go to the right, whilst keeping my chin firmly over the left shoulder. The noticeboard swam briefly into focus, but as I wondered whether this ludicrous posture was really sustainable as a multifocal vision solution whilst running for trains, etc, the first poster I read turned out to be very apposite.

Having trouble hearing? Having trouble seeing?” enquired the headline  in a cheery fashion, before everything drifted annoyingly out of focus again.

“Hell, yes!” I said to myself, reassured that I had come to the right place. I read on excitedly, but it turned out that I had not ended up in Specsavers Hearcare by accident, after all. The poster was actually an invitation to sign up for a meeting of Deafblind Scotland and, despite the clear resonance of its headline, I’m not quite eligible for that particular club. Just as I was puzzling over how the intended target audience would access the poster, my name was called, and I was invited to step into the audiometry booth.

Make a colourful cover for your beige NHS hearing aid

lycra hearing aid covers2

lycra hearing aid covers

The remnants bin at the local fabric shop was the site of an unseemly battle with a determined pensioner over some Lycra scraps. The pensioner won, holding aloft a prized shocking pink piece like a trophy scalp en route to the till, but I came off not too badly. I got enough bargain offcuts to fashion these prototype hearing aid covers, and about 500 more, should the need ever arise.

If you fancy having a go yourself, there’s a link to BatteryBot’s patent template below, and I’ll do a tutorial if anyone wants one. In the meantime, just hide any dodgy stitching on the side next to your head…

hearing aid cover pattern template

update 17 Jul 2013: Hearing aid cover tutorial

coloured hearing aid covers

Kookybite Innovation #11

Aidcam finalKookybite Aidcam2

I have noticed a disturbing phenomenon recently. At noisy social events, when people try to speak directly into my ear in the mistaken belief that I will hear them better, I instinctively turn my head to get a view of their lips instead of staring blankly into space like everyone else. This makes the speaker very uncomfortable both in terms of the unexpected eye contact at such close range, and the loss of proximity of the ear in relation to their mouth. It makes me very uncomfortable because my neck is now twisted painfully.

In response to my head twisting to see their lips, they then turn to follow the ear, I twist further to see their lips, they turn further to follow the ear…you get the drift. To the outside observer, it must give the impression of a slow motion version of an Exorcist-style 720º head rotation, or some sort of bizarre mating ritual. Help is at hand, however, and the Kookybite Aidcam is designed to prevent all that.

I am also working on a low-tech version, which is simply a hearing aid sticker that says “TALK TO THE FACE”


Update 7th May 2015: Well I never, ahead of my time yet again, check this out. Look me in the ear and tell me it’s for real…

More from the team involved here

O ye of little faith, enter here  Update Jan 2018: Don’t bother, AOHL have deleted the link.

Tubetastic Turquoise

NHS Oticon Spirit Zests with a difference

NHS Oticon Spirit Zests with a difference

The spouse found himself in a spot of hearing aid hot water when he decided to phone the hearing aid spares company on my behalf, to find out what had happened to my eagerly awaited delivery of pimping supplies. It was now two weeks late.

The conversation was going swimmingly until the person on the other end of the line decided to ask what had been ordered. The spouse, who was pretending to be me, for convoluted reasons to do with names on joint account bank cards, was somewhat thrown by this sudden demand on his hearing aid technical knowledge. Fortunately, he managed to dig deep into memories of three years of fraught tirades from his beloved.

“Er…tubes and domes…and a few other bits and bobs”, he spluttered, wondering if his cover as a hearing impaired impostor was about to be blown in a very embarrassing fashion.

“Bits and bobs?”, said the person on the other end of the line as they accessed the order details. The spouse began sweating, since it seemed his deception was about to be uncovered. He had reached the limits of his hearing aid know-how. Fortunately, help was at hand from his inquisitor, who filled in the missing details for him with a breezy “Ah yes, seems we’ve got an expander tool and some antiseptic wipes on here as well.”

“Expander tool?”, repeated the spouse with trepidation, wondering what was going to be expanded and wishing he’d never picked up the phone. Fortunately his torment was over.

“The Super Seals expander tool has been out of stock until this week,” said the person on the other end apologetically, “but your order will be despatched tomorrow.”

True to their word, it was indeed despatched the next day and, after some excited thread wrapping, I now have several interchangeable sets of coloured tubes to match my necklaces. Even better, the tubes still have their retention tails on them, and there has been a marked increase in volume as a result, since the domes now sit further inside my ears.

Despite the successful outcome of his phone interventions, the spouse has now handed in his resignation as my PA.

Tubetastic: Coloured tubes for your NHS aids

coloured hearing aid tubes

My continuing quest to find ways of turning beige NHS hearing aids into colourful objects of delight, which can be speedily converted back to boring beige for attending audiology appointments, has resulted in this perky pair of pink tubes.

They’re customised by simply winding sewing thread tightly round the tubes. Fiddly, yes. Totally unhygienic, yes. Costly when you accidentally snip the tube with your scissors because you didn’t put your glasses on, yes. But, hey, they look a bit nicer than a yellowing piece of pvc, and if you like to ring the changes you can have different colours any time you like.

Do be careful with the scissors, though, those tubes are much softer than they appear…

coloured hearing aid tubes2

Square Peg In A Round Hole

The lunchtime office chit chat was hotting up.

“Did I show you the photo of my big lump of skin?”, asked my colleague whilst reaching for her phone. Those in the immediate vicinity gathered round excitedly, but I wasn’t that keen.

“Eeeeeuw”, I said, peering over the top of my computer, ” Big lump of skin? What happened?”

“Not big lump of skin“, said my colleague with exaggerated mouth movements, “I said big romper suit!

Cripes, I thought. What was actually said was even more unlikely than the Cookiebite version for a change. I returned to sifting my email and was just wondering how I’d managed to get on the mailing list for the NHS Obesity Conference 2013, when the twice weekly fire alarm test sounded. It seemed very far away.

I stared at the wailing red dome on the ceiling for a bit as if that would explain everything, then asked everyone if the alarm sounded different to usual. It didn’t, apparently, so I reached to my ears for an explanation instead. I got one right away. The newly fitted domes attached to the newly fitted tubes attached to the brand new pair of Oticon Spirit Zests acquired at Clinic O the previous day (don’t ask) had freed themselves from my lugholes yet again, and were broadcasting to fresh air.

Swearing under my breath, I inserted a pinkie into each ear in the time-honoured fashion, and pushed the domes firmly back inside, wondering what audiological genius decided to put painful plastic corners on something that goes into your ear canal. 30 seconds later, they popped straight back out again. So I pushed them in even harder and held them in place for a bit to let them get used to the idea. It didn’t work.

“That’s it. I’m giving you one last chance!” I spluttered, forcing the recalcitrant domes into position a final time, before giving up and increasing the volume instead.

My minor observation, whilst being retubed at Clinic O the previous day, that the domes were a slightly different shape from the last ones, seemed to be of some significance after all…

Oticon corda tube

Hat Couture

hearing aid santa hats

It was the end of term Christmas Quiz party yesterday and BatteryBot had made me this charming pair of hearing aid Santa hats, to get me in a suitably festive mood for the occasion.

I must say they came in very useful when it came to the Christmas Wrapping Round, where the challenge was to wrap a willing team member with whatever materials were to hand. My colleagues enthusiastically swathed me in a dusty old sheet and some cellophane, and topped it off with a big feather plume stuck down my cleavage. The finishing touch involved wrapping my head with a large sheet of gold tissue paper, a process which took some time without the assistance of sticky tape, and proved to be very noisy despite the sound baffling qualities of my Santa hats.

As I waddled precariously to the stage looking like a post-Apocalypse version of the Statue of Liberty, I was told I looked uncharacteristically glamorous…

Pocket Rockets

Last week’s field trip to a remote lochside youth hostel with the students came with an invitation to a Space themed party in the evening. As I considered my wilderness fancy dress options, I realised that packing a suitable costume into my already overstuffed rucksack was going to be tricky. Disappointingly, it looked like the scene-stealing silver spandex all-in-one body stocking was off.

After much deliberation, I settled for something slightly more compact and befitting of my age and status: a pair of silver spandex hearing aid rocket costumes. Not only could they be carried in my pocket, they came with the added bonus of knowing that no one else at the party could possibly come in an identical outfit.

Admiring comments on the night ranged from “Hey – I think your hair’s on fire!” to “Why have you got flames coming out of your ears?” In contrast, the weary hikers who had the misfortune of sharing the youth hostel with us that night, were simply speechless…

Things You’re Unlikely To See #3

Well I never. My latest wishful thinking pastiche above, based on the equally unlikely but very lovely Making a Transistor Radio Ladybird book published in 1972, may actually be about to become reality. According to this interesting article about hacking on the Beeb website (thanks Babs for the tip-off) it seems that hearing aid hacking is destined to become all the rage. Computer savvy deifies who like their hearing aids tuned to their needs, as opposed to what the Autofit setting on the computer dictates, are apparently taking matters into their own hands with a bit of digital DIY customisation.

On the back of this news, NHS clinics will now have to watch their under-60s like a hawk to make sure that they don’t switch their attentions from illegal cosmetic bejewelling activities to more serious functional modification of the inner workings. Mind you, Clinic O can rest assured that the wondrous Oticon Spirit Zests are currently safe from harm since I’m useless with computer technology. If anyone can knock me up a hair noise cancelling algorithm, though, I’ll be very interested, curly hair is very noisy.

Right, I’m off to study that Ladybird book now; young fellow-me-lad in the illustration below looks very pleased with his DIY device, which could easily pass for a 1970s NHS hearing aid.


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