New Hearing Aid, New Life

I haven’t written much recently, but that’s because thanks to technology — apps and equipment — I’ve been busy doing things.

It started with a new hearing aid. My top-of-the-line Phonak, which had bumped my word recognition up considerably when I got it, gradually stopped working well for me. I replaced it with the then brand-new Phonak Link, which paired wirelessly with my Advanced Bionics cochlear implant. That meant that if I was listening to a podcast on my iPhone, for instance, the sound was going to both ears. I still had to use a streamer, an intermediary device that I wore around my neck on a loop, but I was hearing with both ears. Binaural hearing helps with speech discrimination and it was a wonder to hear so well with both ears after so long. After another year or two went by, however, that hearing aid no longer sufficed.

My audiologist agreed that I was probably at the end of the line with hearing aids, and I began researching a second cochlear implant. I passed the evaluation with flying colors (which means that I failed spectacularly: my hearing in that ear was easily bad enough to qualify for a new implant). But I’ve always heard primarily through my better ear — the hearing-aid ear — and I was reluctant to give up on a hearing aid as long as I got some benefit from from it.

My audiologist suggested I try a different brand of hearing aid. What works for one user is not necessarily good for someone else, and a brand that has worked for an individual in the past may not be as beneficial in the present. In my hearing-aid-wearing life I’ve worn primarily Widex and Phonak. This time I tried the Oticon Opn, a made-for-iPhone hearing aid that had the benefit of channeling anything that came into the phone (calls, podcasts, music, soundtracks on videos) directly into my hearing aid. (The one drawback was that I was back to single-sided hearing when using the phone.)

It was not only fun to have direct access to the phone without the need for a streamer but the new hearing aid also proved to be surprisingly better for me in many conversational situations. Friends and even acquaintances remarked on how well I seemed to be hearing. I was much more confident in social situations and so went out more. When I went for a hearing test recently, my hearing in that ear had actually improved.

Equally beneficial was the lapel mic I bought as an accessory —  as well as the introduction of a couple of new apps that came out around the same time. I’ll write about both next week.

You might be thinking that I’ve bought an awful lot of hearing aids recently. The time frame is not quite as short as it sounds, but yes, keeping up with hearing-aid technology is expensive. That’s why assistive devices like an FM receiver, a lapel mic, and the Roger Pen are useful. It’s also why having a telecoil in your hearing aid is essential. Many of these assistive devices work via the telecoil, and they’re much less expensive than a new hearing aid. If your hearing aid doesn’t have a telecoil, ask your audiologist to put one in. It’s a tiny device with a big impact.


For more about living with hearing loss, read my books, available at and Barnes and Noble, and maybe at your favorite bookstore or library. If it’s not there, ask for it!

Smart Hearing Cover final







11 thoughts on “New Hearing Aid, New Life

  1. Thanks for this.
    The decision to go with a second implant is huge. I am glad your audi found a way to keep you going with your hearing aid. I decided for the second implant when it was clear the HA was not helping much. That was due, in part, to the fact that I had begun depending on the CI more and more. If that has not yet happened to you and the HA works well, it is good to stay with it. It also means that you are not completely deaf during those times when you remove both devices.
    However, I have no regrets about the decision to go with the second CI. The ability to hear from both sides with their help in conversation and when using my accessories is marvelous.


    • Thanks for this comment. I know I’ll get a second c.i. one of these days. And I expect that I’ll hear much better with it than I do with the first c.i., which I got after about 20 years of deafness in that ear. My right ear has done most of the work for a long time now, and my brain has had to keep up.


  2. Thank you for sharing your experiences, Katherine. My first CI was activated today. After my brain gets used to it, I will need a new hearing aid because the one I have is seven years old and is not doing a good job.Trying different brands of hearing aids sounds like a very good idea.


  3. Wait, you can get a telecoil put into an existing hearing aid? I have the Oticon OPN, which is the only one I’ve ever had. It’s fine, but it doesn’t have telecoil.


    • Yes, putting a telecoil into an existing hearing aid is very easy for an audiologist. I have an Oticon Opn with a telecoil and know others who do as well. Some have newer and some older gearing aids. The telecoil works in all of them.


  4. Thanks Katherine. You can tell by today’s date that I don’t always read this blog immediately but always save it to be read! I am in in love with my Oticon hearing aids and have a telecoil for use in Europe when we travel. ( why can’t buildings be looped in the US?) I appreciate knowing that assistive hearing devices often need a telecoil. Will get something for specific uses – like meetings- going forward.


    • Hi Judy, You don’t need to go to Europe for hearing loops. We have a long list of looped venues in New York City — on our website under “resources.” It includes theaters and museums, public offices, transit stations, churches. We add new sites every month.
      There is also a national list but I’ll have to add that later. I think Boston has a list as well. I know part of the BSO has a loop.
      In addition the telecoil is useful with hearing assistive devices like the Roger Pen and FM systems. Thanks for writing! Happy holiday season!


  5. My first CI was actuated today. After my mind becomes accustomed to it, I will require another portable amplifier on the grounds that the one I have is seven years of age and isn’t working superbly. The capacity to get with the two sides with their assistance in discussion and when utilizing my embellishments is sublime.


    • Congratulations! Years ago as my hearing inexorably declined, my ENT assured me I’d never be deaf. He was right, but not for the reason he thought then. I am deaf technically, but technology allows me to be a hearing person. Good luck with your adventure.


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