As the founding editor of Phonak’s community blog “Open Ears” (now part of “Hearing Like Me“) I contributed a series of articles on hearing loss between 2014 and 2015. Here they are.
In the same day, I both forgot that I was wearing my hearing aids before jumping under the shower, and that I should maybe carry spare batteries before going to a family gathering.
As I live alone, I usually put on my hearing aids before leaving home as opposed to first thing when I jump out of bed. As I have a friend visiting these days, my hearing aid routine has changed — I’m not a morning person to start with, so add “no ears” on top of that and you get a very poor morning communicator.
So, Saturday I actually climbed into the shower, turned it on, and was about to raise it above my head to wash my hair when it suddenly dawned on me to make sure I didn’t have my hearing aids in. A niggling doubt. A close shave, too, because there they were, sitting on my ears.
Later that day, after a rather frantic morning running around, we headed out to a cabin in the woods (a “refuge” as we call them here in Switzerland) for a big family party to celebrate my aunt’s 70th birthday. An hour in, I hear the ominous beeping coming into my right ear.
“Oh no! I hope it lasts long enough for me to enjoy the rest of the party!”
My Widex aids give me two warnings and then go dead. If my memory serves me right, I have an hour or so after the first warning at the most.
With Phonak, they seem to chime every half-hour or so (again, I didn’t time it, writing this from memory). And the first time I reached the end of a pair of batteries, I had the feeling they lasted forever after the first warning. Hours, if not half a day. But the last time I reached the end of my batteries I was surprised to have one go dead pretty soon after the first beeps. Maybe I missed the previous ones in the noise?
All this to say that when my hearing aids started telling me “battery’s going”, I didn’t really know if it would be fine for the rest of the afternoon, or if they would be dead 20 minutes later. I had the niggling suspicion I hadn’t brought any replacement batteries with me.
My “Phonak batteries” are bigger and last longer than my “Widex batteries” (I know they’re not Phonak or Widex batteries, but that’s how I think of them). I got used to always carrying my smaller batteries around with my Widex aids because I couldn’t really go a week without changing them. With something like 10 days or more between each battery change with my Phonaks, it’s easy to get sloppy and stop carrying batteries. Specially when the hearing aid warns you (normally!) well in advance.
I got caught once already two weeks ago without spare batteries: on a trek in the mountains, which I finished hearing-aid-less (because honestly, if most of what I’m doing is walking and panting, one hearing aid is more annoying than none).
My niggling suspicion turned out to be correct, once again: I went through my bags, and indeed I hadn’t brought spare batteries. I had even taken my little “emergency pouch” out of my handbag to make space before leaving.
Then my first hearing aid went dead. I took it out, opened it, closed it and put it back in. Got a grand 5 minutes of extra hearing time with it. It wasn’t even 2pm and the party was going to last until early evening…
I ended up jumping in my car and heading back home to pick up some batteries, cursing my lack of foresight. Luckily I didn’t live very far from the “refuge” and the batteries were in the very “emergency pouch” I had discarded earlier, so it took me about 15 seconds to find them.
Thirty minutes later, I was back with my family, vowing to never go anywhere again without spare batteries! (Which, of course, I promptly did the next day, as I had just changed my batteries. Right?)