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Sun, Nov 3 3:01pm · Hearing Loss: Come introduce yourself and connect with others in Hearing Loss

I found that the FREE hearing test at Costco (no charge even if you don't buy an aid) yielded the same results as the one that cost over $300 at the CI clinic. Every Costco hearing center has at least one tech who does tests and recommends/adjusts aids. The Costco center has soundproof booths, same as the ones elsewhere, and the tests are done the same way. Printed results were very close–and my hearing, thanks to Meniere's is different from day to day, even minute to minute.

Sun, Nov 3 2:57pm · Hearing Loss: Come introduce yourself and connect with others in Hearing Loss

There's usually one tech who does tests and actually sells the aid that's best for you. That's why, if the tech at your store isn't a good match for you, you should try another Costco if there's a second one within a reasonable distance. FWIW, you'd probably make two trips not long after buying an aid(s) in order for the tech to fine tune them for you after you've worn it/them for a few days. I went back once last year, then (same aid) this year three times: for a new test after my aided ear went really bad plus had the aid adjusted to handle the new loss, once to activate the telecoil and pair it with my new IPhone, once to buy the mic and have it paired with my aid. That's five trips over the period of a year, and three of them were after a huge downturn in hearing.I was able to "pair" every trip with some other trip I needed to make to Salem, so I actually never made a special trip.

The Bernefon Zerena that I bought cost just over $1,600. The mic I bought to pair with it (sends sounds directly to the aid in your ear) cost just under $200. The Costco tech told me a year ago that recruitment in my bad ear would make an aid useless/bothersome. She offered to fit a second one for that ear and let me wear it for a week, but I trusted her advice and didn't do that. In contrast, the first audi at the CI clinic told me that I had failed the test for a CI in my useless ear by only 5% (depends upon hearing in your "good" ear). She recommended that I toss my Costco aid and buy two "better" ones from her clinic to the tune of $6,000–and then come back for a repeat test in six months. If the test then proves that I qualify for a CI, I'd have spent money for aids that might need to be replaced. Yikes! The second audi I saw, for a consult on how to live with the new loss/distortion/recruitment said that the Costco tech was correct in the aid she had sold me as well as the fact that an aid for my bad ear wouldn't be satisfactory, due to recruitment on top of not much hearing to aid. That really reinforced my trust in the Costco tech. Of course, I'm really glad that I didn't follow the swell advice of the first audi at the CI clinic!

Biggest downturn at Costco is that they don't have a way, at least at the Salem store, of taking messages if the phone's busy when you call.

Sun, Nov 3 2:21pm · Hearing Loss: Come introduce yourself and connect with others in Hearing Loss

BATTERY NOTE and Costco: Even if you don't buy your aid from Costco, you might want to buy batteries there. They sell 48 (four dozen!) for $8.99, packed in individual small packs of 8 each. This is much, much less expensive than OTC batteries.

Sun, Nov 3 2:20pm · Hearing Loss: Come introduce yourself and connect with others in Hearing Loss

Hearing centers in Costco stores are always tucked away in a back corner that says "hearing." They usually only have one tech, one or two others who answer phones, sell batteries and accessories. You can check online to see pricing, but, if your hearing is bad enough to have brought you to this list, you probably will be moved right past the lowest priced one or two models. I have their Zerena aid, two steps up from the base model, but there are others even better. The tech will fit you with an aid and tell you to walk around the store for a few minutes to see how much it helps. It would be a good idea to take someone with you (familiar voice you haven't been hearing well) to get a better feel for how much the aid helps. If you decide to buy, you pay then but have 30 days to bring it back if you're not happy, for a full refund.

When I bought mine a year ago, I didn't have a smart phone, so the telecoil wasn't activated. When I got a smart phone last spring after my "good" ear was affected by the Meniere's monster, the tech activated the telecoil and paired the aid with my phone, so that calls (and Siri's directions if you turn that on) are sent directly to the aid, right in your ear. Good news for me is that I can actually hear and understand using my IPhone; bad news is that we have no reception here and, even though I've enacted the WiFi, it's not strong enough to yield decent reception, either for me or for the caller. I haven't yet been able to set up Apple ID, which is necessary to get apps, even free ones. I think that's because the WiFi doesn't work well enough (you need both computer access and the phone to set up Apple ID, dammit).

If you don't think the tech is right for you, try another Costco if there's one within a reasonable distance. The tech at the Salem, Oregon store is more aware of current apps than either of the audis at the CI center I went to for testing; not even the doc there was aware of Live Transcribe! I got the audi to print out test results to take back to Costco to have my aid adjusted (after my hearing took the huge downturn).

Sun, Nov 3 12:47pm · Hearing Loss: Come introduce yourself and connect with others in Hearing Loss

Although it seems counter intuitive, sometimes it helps clarify what you're hearing if you turn your aid down a bit.For me, that cuts down on the overly loud "sss" and "hard" sounds. It's still difficult for me to understand words, but less volume helps…sometimes. It doesn't work at all with music, however.

Sun, Nov 3 12:42pm · Hearing Loss: Come introduce yourself and connect with others in Hearing Loss

Whether or not a Costco aid is a problem depends on two things. First, the skill of the person at Costco, and, second, how any audiologist you work with view Costco. I'm doubly fortunate because the gal at Costco is very knowledgeable and willing to work with me to get the most possible out of the aid (which is not their entry level but an Oticon by another name). The audi at the center in Portland (two hours away) believes that Costco aids are good and has sent me back to Costco with suggestions–which the Costco gal was perfectly happy to take the time to do. There's no limit to the number of times you can go back for adjustments without an additional charge, the warranty is great, long return for full refund period–all points in Costco's favor IF the one you go to has a good tech. Although I live on the coast in a very small town, I have a choice of several Costcos. If the one in Salem (just over an hour away) doesn't have a good tech there are several others within a two-hour drive (Portland, Eugene, Corvallis, etc., etc.). Price can't be beat!

Thu, Oct 31 6:24pm · Hearing Loss: Come introduce yourself and connect with others in Hearing Loss

In response to @buzzmccracken, some of us have a similar problem, part of the special "features" of Meniere's Disease. We not only lose hearing and gain tinnitus, but fight distortion and recruitment. On top of that, our hearing (or lack thereof) fluctuates from day to day, even hour to hour. When Meniere's first became a problem for me, I was in my 40s and was an active amateur classical musician, playing in ensembles and orchestras. The godawful sounds I heard from the other members of the group plus my inability to hear anything correctly, ended that for me. For years, I couldn't stand to listen to music, because it both lacked some tones entirely and was distorted and strange. Just when I'd gotten used to listening to music a little again (adding all the missing flute sounds in my mind), Meniere's struck my so-called good ear. I had always thought tinnitus was just an annoyance that could be overcome by concentrating on other things, but this is a whole new experience, as is the terrible amount of distortion and recruitment. In my kitchen, I can often tell that something's running, but whether it's water from the faucet or the electric heat fan or an appliance, it all sounds just the same. Most days, my car runs virtually silently, but some sounds intrude and are downright painful as they slice through my head.

From what I've learned, this problem of hearing things incorrectly doesn't show up on audiograms, nor can it be corrected by resetting my aid. Worse, if I'm having an unusually good day while the test is being done or HA adjusted, it will appear that I have far more hearing than I usually have. So far, as luck will have it, I've never been tested during a bad day, even though sometimes bad days run for weeks at a time. It's all totally frustrating. I cannot listen to music at all, as all higher instruments sound like kazoos. I did try to go to a local concert done by the Air Force brass quintet. Who would have thought that the Air Force would use kazoos instead of trumpets and a French horn? AARGH! The tinnitus in my newly-affected ear is so loud that it wakes me up during the night. I've known for a long time that Van Gogh sliced off his ear due to Meniere's…and know I understand why he did it. Imagine living with this dreadful disease and not knowing why everything is so strange! Even though I know what's happening, it's very hard to put up with it. The final insult is something referred to as "auditory hallucinations" where you clearly hear something you haven't heard for years, even decades.

Tue, Oct 22 9:19am · Hearing loss and memory in Hearing Loss

The eternal struggle to comprehend (not hear–comprehend) what is being spoken means that I lose what I learned during the first sentence as I marshall every brain cell I have to comprehend the second…and the third, etc. I not only cannot remember names but details, even of things that I already know quite a bit about. I often am in lengthy meetings where technical issues about fish and their habitats are discussed. These are topics I've been involved in for decades and know very well, but, after two or three (or more) hours of discussion and note taking, I'm at a loss to summarize what I heard.

Because this degree of loss is quite recent (end of May this year), I find that I'm exhausted most of the time–not because I've done lots of physical activities or failed to get enough sleep, but just from the struggle to understand. In fact, one day I spent 4 hours driving and 6 hours hiking in difficult terrain, all entirely by myself. At the end of that day, I wasn't nearly as tired as I am after a 2-3 hour meeting sitting on my butt! If someone walks past while I'm working in the yard and initiates a 10-minute discussion, I'm tired afterwards. Just a few minutes of making the effort to comprehend is a challenge.

I'm sure that part of my exhaustion is due to depression caused by not being able to understand in small group situations, like around a table for 8 or 10. I feel cheated when I can see that everyone is having a lively discussion but I can only understand occasional words. Of course, a good deal of my problem isn't that I can't hear at all, but that, due to Meniere's, what I hear is so distorted some days that it's just babble punctuated by hurtful spikes of sound. Add fluctuation (sometimes I can hear and understand, but other times I can't even tolerate wearing an aid due to recruitment and distortion), which makes it even harder for people around me to be patient on the days when hearing/comprehension are at very low levels. An hour ago, I might have been able to participate in a one-on-one conversation, but at the moment I cannot, which is very confusing to everyone–including me!