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Case Study 2

Claire is 31 years old and has Usher Syndrome type 2. She has a severe hearing loss and is registered severely sight impaired (blind) as a result. Claire is mum to 9-year-old Lily and has for some time wanted to return to employment. Having had a break from work to have Lily it was during this time that her eyesight became progressively poor, dropping from 30 degrees of vision down to just the 5 degrees that she has today.

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Tuesday, 03 March 2020 06:29

Finally Connecting with Sound

Written by  Claire Robotham
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On February 3rd 2020 at the age of 31 I finally entered into the hearing world properly for the first time. I’ve had years of NHS hearing aids and the best they could offer still wasn’t enough as my eyes deteriorated I needed to tweak my hearing aids constantly in an attempt to hear as well as others, but issues with feedback, echoing and blurring of words still persisted no matter what I did. So the best in the NHS for someone with DeafBlindness still didn’t suffice as I strived for independence with my guide dog. 

So on this morning I felt nerves and skepticism as to what these Resound LiNX Quattro 9s from the renowned GN Hearing could really offer me. My daughter Lily (9) was excited for me to have them she was looking forward so seeing what technology they had In store. Jane & Molly Watt arrived at my home to take me to Correct Hearing in Carlton Nottingham to see audiologist Sarah Vokes.

On arrival I entered into the audiologist Sarah’s room and we began by getting to know each other, finding out what I could get from these hearing aids in my day to day life asking my hobbies and commitments so that later on Sarah could adjust the LiNX Quattro’s specifically to suit me. I needed a more up to date audiology test which I had there and then, this again was used to tailer the hearing aids to my ‘prescription’ to ensure I got the most out of them as they would adapt to my hearing loss. 

Then Sarah showed me the new hearing aids, my mind was blown! They were the tiniest ones I’d ever had and the tube that went into my ear wasn’t a tube but a thin wire with a processor at the tip where the dome went round and fitted snug in the ear canal close to the ear drum! I’d never had this and didn’t even realise that technology was possible, this was amazing to me. Then Sarah talked me through the settings as she synced the aids with my audiogram and tailored the settings to my lifestyle.  

Then came time to pop them in and switch them on! Immediately I heard conversations behind me and surround sound and I could accurately pinpoint where sounds where coming from, something invaluable to someone with tunnel vision.  I felt like a baby hearing familiar sounds but in a totally new way, we went outside and tested traffic, I could hear cars approaching from a distance accurately, again something invaluable for me with my guide dog to keep us safe when walking the streets.  

It was overwhelming, speech so clear I could hear my own voice and mis pronunciations even hear my own chewing for the first time, trust me that was a weird sensation for me as I’d never heard my own jaw before! These hearing aids were enabling me to hear for the first time IN my ear canal the natural cone shape of the ears were for the first time useful as I’d only ever had microphones behind my ear, these had a microphone IN my ear so yes at 31 years of age I was hearing like a normal person would for the first time!

After some fine tuning with Sarah ensuring I wasn’t too overwhelmed initially, she connected my Apple Phone and AppleWatch up to the Resound 3D app so I could change ‘channels’ and turn up or down the volume etc once I knew everything that was needed for now, we left with an appointment for a months time to check everything is going well.

When we left me Molly, Jane and our Guide Dogs Minnie & Bella went for a bite to eat to put my hearing aids to the test, I switched to ‘Restaurant’ mode and wow, yes I could hear the surrounding chatter but I could also tune in directly to Molly & Jane's voices, clearly, their speech sounded familiar but so different as I’d never heard such clarity in voices before. I could hear things were far away and what was close to me, for the first time since my sight declined I had depth perception thanks to these Line Quattro smart hearing aids. I was so happy!

Over the last few weeks since my switch on, I’ve had my follow up appointment which has turned me up to 100% of my hearing prescription, we did this in stages to allow my brain to adjust to the new sounds. The past few weeks have been interesting, I’ve been playing with the app, so I’ve set the GPS for when I take my daughter to school my hearing aids automatically switch to outdoor mode with speech clarity and noise reduction on low so this enables me to hear all around me knowing if children in the playground are close or far away and most importantly I can pinpoint my own daughters voice amongst the playground chaos.

I've done similar for when I attend tennis lessons or go on dog walks, the connectivity of these hearing aids is something I’ve never had but now I do I’m finding it so useful in daily life. Im not constantly walking around adjusting the volume like I used to, I’m now just turning speech clarity on or the treble up or just using a preset setting like ‘Outdoors’ or ‘Restaurant’.

Since becoming adjusted to the Linx Quattro’s I’ve heard bird song, drones, the Clock Ticking even my own dog makes noise when she yawns, I’ve never heard them before. I’ve had to remove the clock from my wall as I’d never realised how loud the ticking is! I've heard the low sounds of London Tubes under my feet while at an appointment at Moorfields eye hospital, I knew they were there before but I’d never actually heard them before.  

Hearing bird song, struck something emotional in me, my mother passed away 2 years ago, she used to love hearing, watching and feeding the garden birds something I struggled to indulge with but my daughter did wholeheartedly and it became a real grandmother & granddaughter connection for them both. So for me to now hear them sing as spring approaches is amazing, and it doesn’t have to be quiet for me to hear them either, I can hear them when the trees are rustling and children and playing near by, these hearing aids pick up that higher tone of bird song I couldn’t hear before. A precious gift to me.

I could go on, for example the way I hear music now is totally different. But for now I’ll leave it on that note until my next blog. In the mean time I’d just like to say a personal emotional heartfelt thank you to the Molly Watt Trust and GN Resound for enabling me to be Case Study 2 along with Sarah at Correct Hearing, you really have no idea what you have given me, words cannot describe the difference this has made to my life. What you have given me and my family is truly priceless, Thank you!

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