Wednesday, 11 April 2012

Becoming the Bionic Woman – Part Two

If you haven’t read my original post Becoming the Bionic Woman, you may want to read that first.
Becoming the Bionic Woman

If you’ve read my post “Becoming the Bionic Woman”, you would know that I’ve been trialling the Phonak  Audéo S IX SMART (a micro Behind-The-Ear hearing aid). The trial was originally intended to be seven days however as it was the long Easter weekend, my audiologist very kindly let me borrow the device for an extra six days. Yay!

However, about eight days into the trial, the hearing aid battery died and I was abruptly thrust back into a world of partial hearing & decreased orientation. Suddenly I felt like an addict that needed to score. I was thinking, “Where can I get a hearing aid battery on a holiday weekend? Will the chemist be open? Will they have the battery I need?” Getting that battery became my number one priority. The shops were closed, so I spent an evening without a working hearing aid. Needless to say, I was strung out.

The following day I made a bee line for the chemist and the sales lady found a new battery that matched the one in the hearing aid. I put the hearing aid back in and sighed a relief to be “bionic” again. However the next day much to my surprise I heard the distinctive “ding, ding” sounds that the hearing aid was running out of power again. “No!!” Although the replacement battery was a fit, it was a lesser strength one intended for watches & other small medical devices. I needed a longer life battery.

So back to the chemist I went again only to be informed that they were out of stock of hearing aid specific batteries, so I bought up a few regular ones to get me through the long weekend.

Anyway, today my trial was up. It was time to return the device and decide whether to order a custom hearing aid or not. “You don’t know what you’ve got until it’s gone” is the phrase that comes to mind at this point. The answer to my decision was a clear yes.

I had though one obstacle in my way… money. Living in the post GFC world that we do, my credit card is fairly maxed out. So I wasn’t sure that I could currently afford the Phonak Nano Ambra I was hoping to purchase (approx. AUD$4,500 fitted).

My audiologist, Michelle Nicholls, at the Neurosensory Unit in Brisbane mentioned that Phonak is owned by Sonova Group which also owns Unitron. According to Michelle, Unitron will be launching a comparative hearing aid on April 30 2012. Unitron’s Quantum micro CIC can be fitted with either 20, 12 or 6 channels, so it should offer a good alternative to the Phonak Nano Ambra for my moderate hearing loss.

As I have already registered with Australian Hearing (a Department of Human Services) for a partial subsidy to help pay for a hearing aid, the new Unitron Quantum micro CIC (20 channels) might only set me back around AUD$3,200 (including fitting & government subsidy). So potentially there’s a good saving to be made. Bearing this in mind I thought it best to wait until the end of the month before deciding on whether the Phonak Nano Ambra or the Unitron Quantum micro CIC would be better suited to my needs.

Not wanting to waste an audiology appointment, Michelle took a putty imprint of my left ear canal in preparation for ordering a custom fitted hearing aid. That way once I have all the facts, I can just ring up to confirm & pay, then wait for the device to be custom made then delivered to my audiologist for fitting.

Just in case you’re wondering how they make a custom fit hearing aid, here’s how. After the putty imprint of the ear canal is taken, the mould is scanned in house by a 3D scanner, the image is then sent online to the manufacturer. The scanned image is then adjusted and outputted in plastic by a 3D printer. Once it’s cleaned up, a technician fits the plastic shell with the technology. That’s the general idea. I’m sure it’s a more specific process than that. It’s amazing technology.

I’m so glad to be living in “THE FUTURE”. Yes indeed… we do have the technology. 


Connect with others who have hearing loss
Phonak has started a new online community initiative called Hearing Like Me
It supports those touched by hearing loss through the exchange of experiences. Check it out here: 

Read about the Siemens 3D Scanner which Digitizes Ear Impressions for Customized Hearing Aids

Australian Hearing is a Department of Human Services which provides a choice of hearing aids - from fully subsidised devices through to mid-range, high-range and premium devices. They offer hearing devices made by manufacturers such as Siemens, Bernafon, Phonak, Oticon, GN Resound, Widex and others. Eligibility applies (see below link).
Find out if you’re eligible for Australian Hearing here:

NEWS RELEASE - Unitron Announces Tiniest Quantum Ever 
Quantum 20/12/16 Features

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