August 16, 2010

Demo Days, Take Two

Hadley returned to the audiologist late last week for a few more adjustments to her new hearing aid program. She has been pretty happy with the new Phonak V SP ever since. She comprehends more easily, processes information faster, and has requested far fewer repetitions. She's not as exhausted at the end of the day. I've also noticed that she puts her hearing aids on immediately each morning; in the last few months, they've been going in five or ten minutes after she wakes up. While that's a small amount of time, it is a big difference for a kid who used to put her aids in before she even got out of bed in the morning. She's also leaving them in until just before she falls asleep at night. Hadley has never been reluctant to wear her hearing aids or eager to take them off, and there may be absolutely no connection to this change in recent habit, but I thought it was interesting to observe.

Hadley was at the beach every day for over a week, requiring her to wear her waterproof hearing aids. I had wondered if her improved hearing through the demo aids was going to affect how well she liked her ancient waterproof aids (with ten year old technology!), but there was no mention of any difference.

As tough as it is to say, our decision to buy these aids will be based on how much better she hears with these aids versus their price tag. It's only been two years since we purchased the last set, with the idea that she'd wear them for closer to five years. Hearing aids are pricey and, as of now, are not covered by insurance (although Massachusetts is working on a bill to provide coverage for one aid per ear every three years). Hadley has been a hearing aid user for just over eight years, and we've paid (out of pocket) close to $15,000 on hearing aids alone, plus another $5,000 on ear molds, batteries, and hearing aid accessories. At $6.50 a day, that's a small price to pay for what we get in return...yet, it all adds up. We're fortunate that, by forgoing vacations or other splurges, we can contemplate these bills, even in a year that has been financially challenging for us. There are loads of families who don't have that option.

So, we'll continue to watch Hadley closely and note the improvements these news aids bring to her world. Of course, by the time all of the adjustments are made to optimize these aids to her hearing loss, Hadley's brain may have completely adjusted to hearing with this different technology, making a return to her old Siemens aids difficult (especially at the start of the school year). That $123.50 in coins that we wrapped yesterday may be put to good use!

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