Category Archives: Uncategorized

La Technique of Lipreading

And another post by my friend and me from last week.

SayWhatClub

By Michele Linder and Chelle Wyatt

I recently watched American Masters on PBS, Jacques Pépin: The Art of Craft. La Technique: An Illustrated Guide to the Fundamental Techniques of Cooking was Mr. Pépin’s first book and contained no recipes. While other well-known chefs were introducing people to a world around food and the dishes themselves, Jacques Pépin recognized the value in deconstructing how it was done—the basics of cooking—so that people would feel empowered. It occurred to me that that’s what Chelle and I are trying to do with lipreading—deconstructing how it’s done in order to empower.

Screen Shot 2017-06-07 at 8.14.44 PMMichele: Before delving into the fundamentals and technical aspects of lipreading (Chelle will do that in her next article in the series), it’s important to set the stage for success.

Chelle: There is a mystery surrounding lipreading and there shouldn’t be. Not too long ago that it dawned on me how much…

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Readable Lip Tips

Another post on lipreading, Michele and my collaboration.

SayWhatClub

by Michele Linder & Chelle Wyatt

accessibilityChelle:  This article will not only help those who lipread, but it will help all hard of hearing people and the hearing people who communicate with them. You cannot talk to hard of hearing people the same way you do a hearing person. I realize you talk to more hearing people than you do hard of hearing people so it’s a habit of sorts, however, a few minor adjustments will help the hard of hearing a great deal.

Michele:  Yes, we can all use pointers for better communication. Hearing people have various reactions when encountering someone who is different. Some are uncomfortable because they’re not sure how to accommodate someone with hearing loss to make themselves understood, while others seem to be more intuitive and mindful about what is needed and they accommodate automatically without anyone having to ask or inform.

Chelle:  Even hard…

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10 Things You Can Do for Tinnitus

Tinnitus is on my mind today and that’s because I’m off the grid, in the middle of nowhere at my parents house.  How quiet is it out here?  Many years ago after they finished building their house I came to visit.  We were on the porch, everyone talking and I kept hearing a noise.  It was indescribable and it drove me nuts not knowing what it was. I stopped the conversation finally to ask “What is that?”  And of course everything sounded normal to them so it took a bit to pin down the noise I wanted.  “There!  That noise,” I yelled when I heard it again.  My mom said,  “You mean hummingbirds?”  I was aghast.  I could not believe how loud they were.  At home I couldn’t hear them due to traffic or city noise so I guess I forgot what they sounded like.  


Today it’s early February so isn’t porch time yet. My parents aren’t listening to the radio as they normally would avoiding today’s political environment.  None of us watch TV much either so it’s quiet in the house too. I hear my tinnitus all too well.  My tinnitus sounds like cicadas, crickets and has a high pitched squeal 24 hours a day , 7 days a week.  Luckily I habituated years ago so it’s not driving me crazy but it is noticeable.  


Memories of tinnitus are drifting in and out.  I remember when tinnitus struck back in 1987 and I was told by the ENT to go home and learn to live with it.  He gave me no other suggestions nor information.  I couldn’t sleep and I was a zombie during for days at school.  Every night I laid awake hating the sudden invasion and wished I could just die.  Only with much determination did I make it through that time period and was able to push tinnitus to the side.

I didn’t think too much about my tinnitus for many years, it was there but in the background only.  Then working as a hard of hearing assistant, I was asked to edit a tinnitus presentation into a class.  I spent weeks organizing the information and researching tinnitus on the internet.  I hadn’t heard my tinnitus so well in years! I was so happy when I finished the project.

Once or twice a year I teach the class and it always throws me back to my early days when I suffered from it as I listen to others tell their story.  At least there’s more information available today thanks to the internet than what I had in 1987.  It’s wonderful of the state of Utah to offer this class to help others.  Together we talk about it and I always hope I helped them at least a little bit.  Today I thought I’d write up a list of things to help other people as well.


Tinnitus is most vicious at night because the world is quieter.  All we want is to sleep and it seems impossible with all that racket in our head.  We lay there awake..thinking about it, hating it, crying or pissed off.  It’s at the forefront of our thinking and it’s evil.  

Here’s some things you can do to help you sleep.  The trick is to take your mind away from your tinnitus and place it elsewhere.  If you find yourself focussing on your tinnitus, take the focus away to something else.

  1. Soft noise.  Turn on the fan. Get a fish tank that bubbles. Use soft music or the TV.  There’s small water features you can buy to keep on the nightstand. Get some environmental sounds to listen too. (I use an app on my phone called SleepStream 2 and I love it.  There is a fee.)
  2. Try something visual.  I know some people don’t like lights at night so experiment.  Try fiberoptic lights or something like a projection of the night sky on the ceiling.
  3. Some people claim aromatherapy distracts them from their tinnitus at night.  Find a soothing scent.
  4. Create a regular bed time habit and make it a comfortable routine.  Turn off the TV, read a bit, have a cup of tea.  Create a peaceful atmoshphere with light background noise. 
  5. Find your happy place.  Start creating a visual in your mind of your perfect place. Counting your blessings also works, not matter how small it starts, the list will get bigger.


During the day it’s a little easier to ignore tinnitus but in quiet places or at idle times it can sneak up on you.  Again, every time you catch yourself thinking about your tinnitus take it away to something else.

  1. Mindfulness works.  If you’re dusting furniture and the ringing is driving you nuts, focus instead on the dusting-the motion your hand makes, the smell of the furniture polish, the trails you make in the dust as you go.  
  2. Keep light noise in the background.  Don’t make it too loud because sometimes loud noise can make tinnitus work.  Use the radio, some music, the TV.
  3. Some people started a new hobby when tinnitus struck.  I remember a story of guy who took up running to ‘run away’ from his tinnitus.  He used it to work through his tinnitus and enjoyed it so much he became a marathon runner.  Have you always wanted to paint?  Take and art class.  Take a dance class or start attending a climbing gym.  Having something new to do will give you a new focus.
  4. Many hearing aids have a tinnitus program option.  Whenit’s quiet at the office, I’ll turn on my tinnitus program and I hear crashing waves in the background.  If someone comes in and starts talking to me, the waves fade away and I still hear environmental noise.
  5. Here’s your excuse to go get a message.  Tense shoulders leads to a tense neck and even a tight scalp.  It could be making your tinnitus worse.  It won’t take away your tinnitus but maybe you’ll feel more relaxed and able to deal with the tinnitus better.

These are practical tips.  I don’t know much about alternative therapies so I won’t get into that.  The American Tinnits Association (ATA) which talks about those therapies and you can explore them on your own.  The ATA has tons of good information on tinnitus and you can read the latest updates on studies too.

Some people have tinnitus triggers and spikes.  Mine is a lack of sleep and it will make my tinnitus scream!  I warn people it will be a bad hearing day on those days.  For other people it’s loud noises, over the counter meds, diet (caffeine, sugar, alcohol, salt) or smoking.  None of those things affect me but lack of sleep will.  It’s different for everyone.  

If you’re feeling suicidal because of tinnitus, please reach out for help.  I know someone who was and sought help and successfully habituated tinnitus.  You can move beyond it!

The Ditto

I got the Ditto about a month ago, curious to try things out that might help the hard of hearing.

ditto

picture from pc world

The Ditto is an alerting devices for phone calls (I rarely do the phone), incoming texts, email and more.  It has a good, strong vibrate for such a little thing and it has several options of vibrating patterns.  I had a few people ask me why I wanted to try this because our phones alert us in several ways.  So here’s my deal…

My phone is always silenced.  Any noise that I can hear from any distance is going to be LOUD and obnoxious.  When it’s that loud, it scares me half to death when it goes off.  I have a flash alert set instead which works when I’m near the phone and remember to place it face down so I can see the flash.  If I’m out and about, it’s in my purse or in a pocket unless I’m expecting a text then I’ll carry it in my hand, hopefully face down to see the flash.  This makes me pretty attached to my phone and my hands full at times.  It might be nice having the Ditto but I didn’t expect to like it much because it is Bluetooth and drains the battery on my phone.

 

I tried it out driving to the SayWhatClub convention in Boise at the beginning of August.  I kept it plugged into the car charger.  It was nice to know when texts were coming in and I knew to look when I stopped.  Then I wore it the next day because I kind of liked not having my phone in my hands all the time.  I tried it in the pool (it’s water proof) at the hotel.  It seemed to lose the bluetooth connection and the ‘tether’ alert would go off.  (Tether is an alert designed to tell you when you are too far away from your phone or forgot it somewhere.)  That night I went out on the Boise Brew Cruise I kept it on (charging my phone before I left).   The cruise took us to 3 Boise brew pubs and my phone and the Ditto kept up.

So I started wearing the Ditto more because at the convention not only do I have my family/friends texting as normal but we attendees also start texting each other for information on activities and such.  I’m also charging my phone a lot more but I don’t mind because it’s useful for me.

At home I continued to wear it because I liked not carrying my phone around with me.  I wore it at work so I didn’t get behind on texts, mostly what’s going on at home and things can happen fast at home.  Yesterday I forgot to take it to work with me and I missed it.  I’ll have to start tucking it into a purse pocket.

I don’t use it all the time because sometimes I like having a break from my phone or maybe I’m not doing anything more than watching TV so I can check my phone.  I’m glad I have the device though, it’s frees my hands up and I can forget about my phone for a while confident I’ll get the alert.

The only time the vibrate freaked me out is when I was in the backyard with the bees.  My husband has a hive of bees and bees can freak me out.  The bees were thirsty, zooming back and forth in the yard looking for water.  I was trying to get some toys out of the shed for my grandsons while keeping my cool.  My tether alert went off and I did this freaky dance in the yard slapping at my collar-bone while turning a circle.  It took me a few seconds to figure it was the Ditto and gather my wits again.  It probably looked funny but the 5 yr old and 1 yr old didn’t catch the humor.  They were just looking at me crazy like wondering what I was going to do next.

* Texting is my main mode of communication.  I think in an average month I send and receive around 2,000 texts.  My record is around 4,000 and that was about 4 years ago.

 

Summer Busy

I keep thinking I need to post but haven’t had much time between summer camp trips, work, family and holidays. I’m not done writing about hearing loss by far but I haven’t had a lot of sit down time at my computer either. Even now I’m tapping this all out on my phone. 

Summer fun (and work) also involves the SayWhatClub convention coming up August 3-6 in Boise, Idaho. I have so much fun at their conventions and look forward to every year. I’m also on the convention committee which means a chunk of my time goes into helping to put this event on. The last month always has its challenges, the main one being getting a temporary hearing loop put in.  None of the audio visual companies up there are willing to put in a loop. Most haven’t even heard about it so I got to do a little educating at the very least. 

It’s like Boise is in the dark ages in regards to hearing loss needs. Not only are we having problems with the loop but there are issues with getting a play captioned at the Shakespeare Festival. They are really dragging their feet over this.  Boise needs us. 

In spite of the problems I know things will come through. I’m reminded that success is not a straight line. 


I will have fun. Here’s picture of past fun…

2012 My first ever SWC convention. This is the welcome party where I wore balloons because the night before someone learned the ASL phrase “She has fake boobs.”


2013 Fun with my tutu at the banquet.


2014 My tiaras and her bug eye glasses made for a lot of goofing around.


I missed 2015 only because my grandson chose that time to come into this world.  I have a great outfit planned for the banquet this year, pictures will come after the convention. 

So I leave with this quote I saw in FB this morning. 


From one of my favorite authors, Paulo Coelho. I’m not going to apologize for my hearing loss or regret it. I’ve met too many good people thought it to ever regret again. Hate myself? Never, there’s more fun to be had, especially with my tribe. Dieting-ah that is something I think about but the quote is right…be brave, be who we are and take risks. Even with hearing loss we can live this life!

Affordable Hearing Aids

Sound World Solutions contacted me via my blog. Over email, they told me more about their product and asked if I’d being willing to try it. They have been selling their hearing aids/hearing amplifiers in India and the Philippines but they recognized the need for affordable hearing aids in the USA. Their website states their mission as: “to create and deliver high quality, affordable hearing devices that allow people to rediscover the power of connection, no matter what their geographic location or economic circumstance happens to be.”

I agreed to try their hearing aids because I have many people come through at work who simply can’t afford hearing aids in the $3,000-$6,000 range and are seeking help financially. We have a list of funding sources at work that gives about 10 possible sources for adults. Our resources list places for easy credit terms, the Starkey “Hear Now” program (bless them), and places like United Way and the state vocational rehabilitation program for those who are at work or want to work. Most of the people I see, however, are older people on fixed incomes who really, really want to hear because they know they are missing all kinds of sounds but can’t afford the prices. The look at our funding sources and I tell them to try the Starkey program because I know they do good work.

Sound World shipped their hearing aids called the “Companion” to me. They came in a zippered protective case, a charger cord (no batteries), 3 different sizes of domes for the ear canal and a cleaner tool.

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Here’s a picture comparing the size to my tiny Siemens.

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There are some people who would be turned off by the size of the hearing aids but I was delighted because I had more room to decorate them! Before I charged them, before I performed the hearing test and before I put them in my ears, I decorated them with Duck Tape. My husband couldn’t believe I wanted to do that before heading out into some noisy environment to check them out. I have a tendency to show off my hearing aids and I was NOT going to show them off plain black.

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You may remember a post of mine from a year or so ago trying Harris Hearing aids. I was excited to have more control over what I hear through a phone app although something fell through in process and we were never able to pursue the project.

Sound World is the same way. Their hearing aids are Bluetooth (part of the reason why they are so big I’m guessing) and connect right to the phone. I found their free app in the Apple Store downloaded it with no problem. I turned on the Bluetooth option on my iPhone and proceeded to take their hearing test which turned out similar to the one I have from the audiologist office. (For those without a smart phone, the hearing aids can come already programmed and ready to go out of the box.)

the hearing test

the hearing test

The domes with the Harris hearing aids screamed because I need a lot of power being in the moderate/severe hearing loss zone. The domes with Siemens hearing aids screamed until I got custom-made molds so I kind of expected the same thing with the Companion. If I powered them up while trying to put them in, I had feedback but if I put them in and turned them on, I didn’t have the screaming and that’s doable. I occasionally have a chirp if my hand gets too close to the hearing while fiddling with my hair and that’s not so bad either but I’d like it not there at all. Another cool thing about the Companions is the wire that connects the hearing aids to the domes/speaker goes in and out of the hearing aid itself to its self adjusting.  Look at both pictures of the hearing aid decorated to see the difference in wire length.

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Different size domes and the cleaning tool.

There are 3 programs or settings: everyday, restaurant and entertainment. On my phone app I can choose the setting or I can change it through the buttons on the hearing aid.

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Likewise I can adjust the volume on the hearing aid or through the app. Even better, with the app I can adjust the treble, the mid ranges and the bass through the equalizer. I like that. A lot. Today’s world is all about options.

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Last week I tried the hearing aids in a health fair for work. It was a big test for these hearing aids in a large lunch room loaded with 300 people, with bad acoustics and someone on microphone trying to override all the noise. My boss took off her cochlear implant and then eased back into the noise with low volume which shows how harsh the noise was.   The Companion hearing aids did well in that environment, separating the speech from the noise well enough I could cope. Noisy settings are the number one complaint for hearing aid users.

They only lasted an hour. I thought I had just charged the hearing aids but on reflection it had been a week (time flies when busy). The charge generally lasts about 18 hours and should be charged once a week with light usage. I was really surprised to get an hour out of them in such a bad environment after a full week of no charging. I need to set a day every week to charge them since I’m a light user changing them out with my Siemens.

Why do I change them out? Because the Companion doesn’t have a T-coil as of yet and I am around looped environments enough which is my favorite listening system. I prefer that above all others because within a loop I feel like a normal hearing person. I also use neckloops at work to show clients how to use them so I need my T-coil hearing aids to make sure the devices work. The company has T-Coil on their list along with trying to get the size of the hearing aids down which might be good too.

The other issue I seem to have is keeping dome in the left ear. It works its way out continually and I have to poke it back in. I know from past experience this causes irritation and pretty soon I have a sore so I asked if they made custom molds for people like me. They do.

Supposedly I can pair the hearing aids to the TV streamer but I have yet to try that option. I’ve been watching TV with captions since the mid 90’s so it’s a hard habit. Depending on the movie, I still need captions to understand dialogue even with a steamer so it’s not a big bonus for me. It connects to my phone for music but I haven’t tried it for talking on the phone yet. (I’m phone shy because it can be a big struggle.)

For the first time my hearing aids talk to me. I’m not sure how I feel about that but at least I know what’s going on.

“Power on.”

“Power off.”

“Volume up.”

“Volume down.”

“Connected.” For Bluetooth options in my phone.

“Everyday.”

“Restaurant.”

“Entertainment.”

It’s a male voice. I might have to name him, any ideas for names?

I gave them another color today for their debut.

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Overall I would recommend these hearing aids to people who have a moderate or less hearing loss who can’t afford hearing aids out of an audiology office. Why not a severe/profound hearing loss? Because my moderate/severe hearing loss requires a lot of power which creates feedback. If I have some feedback, what will it be like for someone with a bigger hearing loss than mine? I think it would work fine for someone with my kind of hearing loss provided they are experienced with hearing aids and can work it but for someone totally new to hearing loss it might be a bit frustrating. If it’s a moderate or mild hearing loss I think the aids will work fine and not have a lot feedback issues.

Some hearing aids are better than none and these are certainly affordable and usable. The website says one hearing aids is $449 and $735 for two hearing aids. They don’t have all the bells and whistles (they tell me they are working to have more options in their hearing aids and making them smaller is a priority) but they do have the basics; noise settings, volume, connectivity through Bluetooth. Bonuses include not having to buy batteries and being able to make self adjustments through a smart phone. Thank  you World Solutions for letting me try your hearing aids.

Summer life

I have outlines and subjects galore to write about but since late July, life has been non-stop with traveling.  I thought I’d share some of it with you and then get serious about writing again.

Late July and into August we did a Vanagon trip to the Oregon/Washington coast but right before leaving, I hosted an HLAA-SLC social at my house.  Good people, a great night.

Our social

Our social

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We made it to the California Sierras to visit friends who also have a Vanagon. (Ours is blue.)

We made a quick tour of Mt. Lassen before hitting up the Giant Redwoods in California.

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Redwood National/State Park.

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Whale’s Head Beach, about an hour north of the California border in Oregon. Loved it because hardly anyone was there.

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Made it to the Rogue Brewery in Newport, OR. Their nut brown is awesome and they have a good chocolate one too.

This was about an hour before getting to Astoria., it's one of my favorite pictures.

This was about an hour before getting to Astoria., it’s one of my favorite pictures.

Then up to Ocean Park, WA to visit good friends.  Brrr!

Then up to Ocean Park, WA to visit good friends. Brrr!

Onto Seattle to visit family and the troll under the bridge...which has a VW bug under a hand by the way.

Onto Seattle to visit family and the troll under the bridge…which has a VW bug under a hand by the way.

While in the area we also visited Jimi Hendrix’s grave, Pike’s Market and Snowqualmie Falls.

Then back down through Oregon again where we traveled up the Columbia River Gorge, watched wind surfing at Hood River, OR.  We drove by Mt. Hood and camped along the Pacific Coast trail.  Then I had to go to Bend, OR to the visit Deschutes Brewery.

Their seasonal ale was good but River Ale is still my favorite.

Their seasonal ale was good but River Ale is still my favorite.

From there we toured the Lava Caves.  Brrr!  After that we found an abandoned campground nowhere close to a town.  It felt very Friday the 13th.  It was peaceful.

Our whole trip was blue skies and good weather, except traveling through NV to CA where we hit a thunderstorm with lots of rain and again on the way back through NV to Utah we got drenched.

I wasn’t home 12 hours from that trip before I took off to Arizona to be with my youngest son.  His living quarters was threatened by a rare wildfire in Mohave, AZ.  The fire actually went all the way around his place but left a good chunk of the neighborhood alone which was amazing!  We didn’t know that for 3 days however because they wouldn’t let people in until the hot spots were down, the propane tanks safe and downed wires back up.  It was 3 days of hell waiting to see if his cat made it through the 110 plus temperatures without electricity and a huge fire blazing all around.

The fire went down down the streets on both sides of the property.

The fire went down down the streets on both sides of the property.

Leo the Cat came through unharmed!

Leo the Cat came through unharmed!

I came back home 5 days later and went to work, tying up the speechreading and hearing aids 101 classes updates.  Ken and I found time to go camping in the High Uintas in eastern Utah at Spirit and Hoop Lakes.

The stream that fed into Spirit Lake.  This was about 10,000 ft.

The stream that fed into Spirit Lake. This was about 10,000 ft.

Tamarack Lake,  hike up from Spirit Lake.

Tamarack Lake, hike up from Spirit Lake.

That night was cold!  I broke out the down coat.

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And we still had fun.

Fishing at Hoop Lake which was about 9,000 feet.

Fishing at Hoop Lake which was about 9,000 feet.

So then I come home to work and visit with my grandkids for a few short weeks.

Riley who is about 4 months old here I think.

Riley who is about 4 months old here I think.

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From there I went to the ALDA convention, Association for Late Deafened Adults.  It was my first ALDA con and it deserves a post all on it’s own.  Here’s two of my favorite pictures from karaoke night.  (Yes the deaf can and will sing at the ALDA con.)

Taking a break from all the fun.

Taking a break from all the fun.

These two are feeling the music's vibrations through a balloon for the first time.

These two are feeling the music’s vibrations through a balloon for the first time.

So I’m home again, visit with kids and grandkids and we’re off again in less than two weeks.  This time we went up Gray Canyon on the Green River in Utah.  The one thing about having a ‘handicap’ is my National Parks pass card called Access.  It’s gotten us into the National Parks free and 1/2 off camping in most places.  I felt guilty about having one for a while but got over it.  I miss out on so much in the hearing world why not have this one perk in life?

Sunset on Swasey's Rapid

Sunset on Swasey’s Rapid

Campsite near practically right on the rapid.  It's great white noise for tinnitus.

Campsite near practically right on the rapid. It’s great white noise for tinnitus.

My hubby guiding us down the Green River.  We did two days on an 8 mile stretch of the river.

My hubby guiding us down the Green River. We did two days on an 8 mile stretch of the river.

I’m home again as of last night.  I have to be up early to travel to busy health fair to talk to people about the services Utah offers to those who are deaf and hard of hearing.  Then my parents are visiting for the weekend.  I have about a two week breather before my next planned trip to Montana to visit a dear friend.  After that, I hope to stay home for a little while. I hope to be able to post a couple of times before going. I have a lot of catching up to do!