Buck has been driving us toward North Carolina for the last three hours. We just made the big turn north on I-85 at Montgomery, Alabama toward Atlanta. Pensacola had a near-record 13.11 inch rainfall last night with more falling today. A persistent, heavy rain has been with us since we picked up our soggy Sunday newspaper at the gate and linked up with I-65 to Montgomery.
It’s not so bad for me, since I am in the passenger seat. Our laptop is a great knee warmer, and I’ve got it tethered to my Droid phone for high-speed internet.
Buck is road-testing a brand new pair of hearing aids on this trip. His old pair of Phonak BTE’s (behind the ear) are still working reasonably well, but hearing aids reputedly have a “life” of five to six years. Buck’s Phonaks are six now, and so when his audiologist let him know about a special 60-day trial promotion on new hearing aids, he decided to take advantage of it.
Buck has seen Jennifer for about 12 years. She is Dr. LaBorde, a Ph. D. Audiologist, but to us, she’s also our trusted good friend, Jennifer. Buck promised her that he would check out all the bells and whistles on his new ReSound Alera BTE hearing aids on our trip to Maggie Valley. We’ll be in a variety of situations involving road noise, restaurants, and visits with friends that should provide all the elements for a good test.
Buck left Jennifer’s office with a chic black shopping bag full of gee-whiz gizmos. The hearing aids themselves are sleek matte black and silver units. The accessories are where things have the potential to get fun. These hearing aids are blue-tooth equipped, which opens up a world of potential enhancements. One is a phone clip, a unit that wirelessly pairs with Buck’s cell phone and then allows him to hear cell phone calls directly into both ears via the hearing aids. We haven’t tried that one yet. The other accessory is called a mini-mic. It’s a chic little black and silver number that I can wear clipped on to my t-shirt or blouse. When wirelessly paired with Buck’s hearing aids, my voice goes directly into his ears. What spouse wouldn’t love that?
We tried the mini-mic at home first, and then at a noisy restaurant. The mini-mic is fantastic. Buck could hear background sound all around our table at the restaurant, but when I spoke in a very soft voice, that is the sound he heard intimately and clear. It dampened and took precedence over all the other sounds. Buck had to remind me a time or two not to speak so loudly. Amazing. We were able to enjoy a relaxed meal and conversation in that noisy space without resorting to lip and/or mind reading.
And so, we have the black “Hearing Center” bag full of goodies and battery chargers to play with in Maggie Valley.
Buck says that so far he doesn’t feel like he is hearing any better with these new aids, however he notes that the TV volume on his small office set has come all the way down to 20, from a setting of 32, so something is clearly going on. Jennifer explained that brains need a period of adjustment to get used to a new assistive device.
Another cool thing is that the hearing aids make a record when Buck adjusts the volume up or down so that when he goes back for a follow-up with Jennifer, her computer can communicate with them and see how and when the units have been adjusted. This will give valuable feedback as she fine-tunes the units.
Far out, don’t you think?