Andrew at first sight is not your stereotypical hearing aid user. When I first met him for his initial hearing assessment I pictured him as a real life Action Man. In his early fifties, Andrew felt his ability to hear was holding him back at home, at work and socially. Andrew had overcome the biggest hurdle when it comes to hearing loss and accepted himself that something needed to be done.
His wife had been complaining that he could not follow conversations when they were with company, The television was up far more than was comfortable for her and that he would often miss-hear what she was saying or worse still, appear to ignore her.
Andrew had been a career soldier serving in the RAF regiment for 22 years. One day during a training exercise he was exposed to the loud bang from a stun grenade at close quarters. He initially experienced a severe dullness to his hearing and horrendous tinnitus. Within a day or two his hearing level improved and the tinnitus eased but his full hearing ability never returned to its original level and the tinnitus persisted.
Andrew currently runs a number of businesses. Two in particular place serious demands on his ability to hear, understand and communicate. Firstly, he runs his own security company with all the demands that modern business brings today, negotiating contracts, managing staff and dealing face to face with clients. He has also developed his passion for keeping fit and is a 5th dan in karate. He teaches the martial art at multiple locations to numerous age groups.
During his hearing assessment we discovered Andrew had a moderate to severe Sensory Neural Hearing Loss - this is typical for someone with symptoms from noise damage.
With the highly active life Andrew leads, he needed a system that was small. It was imperative that he could use it while taking his karate classes and that it would not impede his demonstrations of moves and techniques. In his business life he would find himself in demanding listening environments and could not afford for clients to see him as having any disability or be at a disadvantage that in their mind could compromise their safety.
I recommended an IIC (invisible in canal) system. Andrew was fitted with a pair of Phonak Q90 Nano instruments. At fitting his initial reaction was "wow", this was from a system set to 90% of its capability.
Many first time hearing aid users need to acclimatise to amplified sound, all modern digital hearing systems have some form of acclimatisation process which can help wean a client from the comfortable sound they have been accustomed to, steadily increasing to what they really need over time.
Like many new hearing aid users, after four months or so Andrew was starting to feel his hearing instruments were not as clear as they were when first fitted. This was not in fact the case, he had simply got used to sound the hearing aids produced and was ready to move on to the next level. The acclimatisation level on Andrews was set to 100% and the "wow" factor returned.
Andrew would not want to be without his hearing instruments now. It is not that he has become dependent on them, it is that they have improved so many different aspects of his life he feels why would he choose to struggle. His confidence has improved and he can put his energy into the matter at hand, rather than using it purely to try and understand what has been said.
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