Sometimes, out of nowhere, my hearing loss catches up to me. My frustration about not hearing something important comes rushing back, a reminder of my difficult early days with hearing devices. It can quickly turn into panic.
Ordinarily I’m fine with my hearing aids and cochlear implant, supplemented by a remote mic when necessary, Otter a.i. for in-person captions, and Innocaption+ on my phone.
On Labor Day, though, there was a crisis, and I couldn’t access the direct-to-iPhone Bluetooth link, which sends the audio to my hearing aid and cochlear implant. I had Innocaption captions, but no audio. It’s a challenging way to deal with an emergency.
I am living in rural Massachusetts at the moment, in a house with a dense woody area behind it going up a hill. My dog, Ollie, likes to sit outside in the evening, ready to bound in when I call him. (Treats are involved.)
Monday evening around 6:30 or 7, I stepped out to call him. He was on the hillside, waiting expectantly. For some reason, I looked away and when I looked back up he was gone. I heard a loud strangled cry. I ran up to the hillside, afraid he’d been snatched by a coyote or a cougar.
No sign of him. Then I realized he was behind the house, behaving strangely. He’d encountered a porcupine and had a snout full of quills. They hung off his face and rattled when he moved.
My vet was closed but had emergency information on their phone message. I called one emergency vet after another. The most I could make out of what they said — using captions, no audio — is that they were full and could take no more animals. One suggested I get him a cone so I raced to the pet store before it closed. Another customer helped me try (unsuccessfully) to snap the cone in place around his neck. It wouldn’t have helped anyway.
How could Ollie go through the night with quills in his face? That’s when I started to panic.
Meanwhile I had texted my daughter, who took over the search. She found a vet about 45 minutes away, who told her I’d have to go to a different vet an hour and a half away because they were full. Her husband, a paramedic, got on the phone. A friend once said about my daughter’s husband, somewhat enviously, “Paramedics can do everything.” Apparently this includes talking a vet into accepting one more dog. They texted me the information.
I was low on gas and so went to the gas station to fill my car. It was closed. Labor Day. I didn’t think gas stations ever closed. A second was also closed. I finally found a third.
I was able to control my panic once the vet appointment was set up, and drove the long dark drive without incident. The vet took Ollie and said she’d have to sedate him. I said I would come back in the morning. It was not a peaceful night, but at least I wasn’t sleeping in the car. I picked up Ollie at 8 am the next morning and he seemed fine, if a little groggy.
What have I learned from this incident? I knew my phone was having sporadic trouble connecting with my new hearing aid. But I put off figuring out the problem. Yesterday, I had an appointment with customer support. Bingo, a very simple solution. Answer the phone by pressing the button on the hearing aid. I tried it on my next incoming call and it worked perfectly and even took me directly to Innocaption in case I also wanted captions.
Last week I wrote about being prepared for emergencies. I hadn’t really thought of a dog with porcupine quills on Labor Day evening and a nonworking phone connection as the kind of emergency I might encounter.
If one of your hearing instruments isn’t working properly, don’t put it off. You never know when you’ll need everything working perfectly.
For more about living with hearing loss, read my books “Smart Hearing: Strategies, Skills and Resources for Living Better With Hearing Loss” and “Shouting Won’t Help: Why I and 50 Million Other Americans Can’t Hear You.” Both are available as ebook and paperback on Amazon.com.