We went to the audiologist the other day to get me fitted for an hearing aid (an Oticon Chili SP9), and I was blown away by how far hearing aids have come since the last time I had one in…1997 or 1998, I think it was.
My previous hearing aid was an analog aid, and it pretty much just amplified everything that was going on around me, including all the irrelevant noises that people normally tune out, and the sound quality wasn’t particularly great. I couldn’t tell music from speech, I had no speech discrimination whatsoever, and everything sounded kind of the same. It just wasn’t a great experience.
These new digital aids are something else. They’ve got bells and whistles out the wazoo and do a nice job of filtering out the background “static” and just focusing on important sounds, and instead of using 3 tiny dials adjusted with a screwdriver on the hearing aid, the audiologist programs the hearing aid on a computer. It’s pretty neat.
I don’t really know how to adequately describe the magnitude of the difference between my old hearing aid and this one. The closest I can come is equating the old one to a 13″ CRT television with rabbit ear antennas and bad reception, while the new one is more like a 30″ HDTV, but all of the shows are in a foreign language. It’s still going to take a while for me to get fully acclimatized to sounds again, but I can already tell it’s better this time around.
I’m wearing a loaner unit right now. My actual hearing aid and custom earmold arrives in 2 weeks, and I pick them up a week after that.
The other thing I really like? Every single analog aid I’ve had over the years was a hideous fleshtone color that’s more at home in Dick’s Bargain Dildo Emporium (D.B.A. Poke & Save) than behind someone’s ear. My new one’s a tasteful metallic graphite grey instead!