Hearing is Believing

New technology augments hearing, enriches lifestyle.

A series of ear infections suffered during infancy left Robert Spivey totally deaf in his right ear and nearly deaf in his left ear, and for 47 years, Robert believed all the people who told him hearing aids would never restore his hearing.

Robert Spivey has been to EarCare twice in five years and both times he came away pleased with his care.

Robert Spivey

Then came a day five years ago when a change in work assignments all but forced Robert to find out once and for all if those claims were true.

“Up until then, I had always overcome the obstacles associated with my hearing loss mostly through improvisation and ingenuity,” Robert explains. “I learned to read lips extremely well and had conditioned people to always walk on my left side.

“Then this change at work came. I’m a registered nurse and paramedic, and after fourteen years of working with a medevac unit in helicopter transport, I was going to be transitioning into a procedural area of the hospital where everyone wears a mask.

“That was obviously going to take away my ability to read lips, so I needed to do something to help my hearing. Also, as my two kids had gotten older, I had grown tired of having to say What? to them all the time.

“It just so happens that there’s an audiologist in the same office complex where my wife works, so I made an appointment to go there.”

Robert went to see Dr. Karen Cowan-Oberbeck, a board-certified doctor of audiology, and co-owner Glenn A. Oberbeck, a board-certified hearing aid specialist at EarCare, which has locations in Melbourne, Merritt Island and Indian Harbour Beach. Robert’s experience at EarCare proved to be a life-changing ear-opener.

“I went through a series of diagnostic tests that showed just how significant my hearing loss was, and then hearing aid specialist Glenn Oberbeck told me, I have something that can help you with that,” Robert says. “It turns out a hearing aid could help me because when they put it in, it was like flipping a switch on from night to day.

Robert Spivey has been to EarCare twice in five years and both times he came away pleased with his care.

Oticon OPN 3 IIC

“All of a sudden, I was hearing sounds I’d never heard before. I remember hearing my wife’s voice, and it almost brought me to tears. Suddenly, everything in my world was different. My entire environment changed that day.”

The hearing aid Robert received fit behind his left ear and helped him excel in his new position as the trauma program manager at Health First’s Holmes Regional Medical Center in Melbourne. Recently, another job change prompted a change of hearing instruments.

The change of jobs includes a return to the skies and the medical center’s helicopter transport unit, where Robert’s passion lies. The change in hearing instruments was due to the changes in technology that have been made since Robert last flew with that unit.

The crew members of the helicopter transport unit now communicate primarily through an intercom system in their helmets. Wearing that helmet would have caused Robert’s old hearing aid to either fall off or break, so he recently sought out Glenn for an upgrade.

“By becoming a flight nurse again, Robert was going back to a very unique work environment, and we had to take that into consideration when re-fitting him so that he could function and communicate properly with confidence,” Glenn explains.

“After sitting down and strategizing over what the best solution for him would be, we decided to go with an Invisible-In-the-Canal [IIC] device made by Oticon that fits super deep in the ear canal. It’s called the Oticon OPN 3 IIC.

“This device actually fits all the way down into the bony region of the ear canal. That way, there’s no chance of it getting in the way or getting knocked off the ear. It’s very secure and has a low profile.  It is perfect for Robert.”

Technological Advances

Because it is designed to fit deep in the ear canal, the Oticon OPN 3 IIC has to be custom molded to fit the wearer’s ear. To do that, Glenn made a cast mold of Robert’s ear canal. From that mold, the device Robert wears today was made.

Robert Spivey has been to EarCare twice in five years and both times he came away pleased with his care.

Robert was fitted with a hearing instrument that accommodated his work needs.

“It’s a digital wireless device that can be put in and taken out daily, which is important because Robert is in a work environment where he sweats a lot, and you want the ear canal to dry out each day,” Glenn adds. “You don’t want something in there all day, every day.

“Even though it sits deep in the canal, this device can be inserted into the ear and removed very easily and quickly. One of the great advantages is that the feedback cancellation is outstanding, meaning there is no squealing. The quality of sound he gets from the hearing aid is excellent.”

Robert concurs. His new device includes an upgraded microprocessor that allows him to set levels more precisely than his previous instrument. He says that upgrade has proved to be very helpful both in and out of his new work environment.

“It’s not as though my old hearing aid was out of date or anything, but the change from that one to this one is so great in terms of the technology that it’s provided me with a huge boost in terms of how I process sounds in my head,” Robert says.Robert Spivey has been to EarCare twice in five years and both times he came away pleased with his care.

“I’m hearing things now that I literally never heard before. My kids, for example. I’ve always heard them, but when they were younger, I never really heard their voices the way I do now. To be able to suddenly hear your kids is amazing.

“Sometimes, I’ll just go and sit out on the porch and listen. It’s incredible how significantly Glenn and the folks at EarCare have changed my life. And this is twice now in five years that they’ve done that.

“The work they do at EarCare, it changes lives. It really, really does change lives, and I would recommend them to anyone. They’re really great people, and they do incredible work.”

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