Two for One

State-of-the-art wireless technology addresses single-sided deafness.

Carolyn “Kay” Murray, 79, has had trouble hearing since she was a child, when surgery to repair a mastoid infection left her deaf in her right ear. For years, she dealt with the awkwardness the problem created.Two for One

Photo by Nerissa Johnson.

Thanks to Miracle-Ear, Kay can hear everything that’s being said.

“Anytime there was someone on my right side, it was very hard for me to hear them,” Kay relates. “Being in a restaurant, for example, was very awkward because I couldn’t understand the waitress.
“If I was driving and someone was in the passenger seat next to me, I couldn’t hear what they were saying. Even at home, I’d end up having to turn up the TV or the radio too loud. It was very frustrating.”
Kay’s frustration reached a peak about six years ago, not long after she began avoiding friends and social settings out of concern she’d struggle to engage in conversations. That’s when she and her husband were first fitted with hearing aids.
That initial experience, however, only left Kay more exasperated. The hearing aid she was fitted for failed to correct the single-sided deafness she had been experiencing to her satisfaction, which left her trying to converse in part by reading lips.
“It was just a very bad experience,” Kay acknowledges. “The hearing aid was very expensive, but it was not any good at all. I tried wearing it for three years, but the service was terrible. They just didn’t take good care of us at all.”
Undeterred, Kay recently began searching for a better solution. She scoured the internet, researching all the available options and reading testimonials in an effort to rate the results, and finally settled on Miracle-Ear.
At Miracle-Ear, Kay met with Melanee Bryans, LHAS, a hearing care professional since 1999, who begins all of her examinations by first attempting to learn as much as she can about each patient’s lifestyle.
“I do that before I put them in the test box so that I have a non-biased way of looking at things,” Melanee explains. “I want to know each patient’s history; how active they are in and out of the home. The more I know, the better I can serve their needs.”
As a result of her in-depth exam of Kay, Melanee soon discovered that in addition to being totally deaf in her right ear, Kay was also suffering from a slight hearing loss in her left ear. That made her a perfect candidate for the BiCROS hearing aid system.

Best in Show

BiCROS is a dual hearing aid system, meaning there is a hearing aid for each ear. The first contains a microphone that records the signal coming into the deaf ear and a transmitter that in turn sends that signal to the “good,” or functioning, ear.
The signal is transmitted via wireless technology to the functioning ear, which is fitted with a second hearing aid that receives signals. The two signals are then amplified to create a feeling that best reproduces a normal, binaural hearing experience, or hearing with both ears.
“Short of surgery, the BiCROS system is the best thing that has come across for anyone who has single-sided deafness,” Melanee explains. “I’m a huge advocate of it because I know what it’s like to have a friend or family member with a hearing problem.
“My daughter has a hearing problem, so I know how it can affect the family as well as the patient as far as withdrawal and depression. As a provider, being able to give someone back the sensation of binaural hearing is the most rewarding thing I can do.”
The ability to hear with both ears is important because it allows a person to better judge the distance and direction from which sounds are coming, which reduces or eliminates completely a person’s need to angle their head toward the source of the sound.
Binaural hearing is especially important to Kay, who remains active socially. That’s another reason Melanee recommended the BiCROS system. In addition to being the most technologically advanced option, it is also one of the most aesthetically pleasing.
“It’s so small and discreet that someone is not going to look at you like you have a big horn sticking out of your ear,” Melanee notes. “Back in the day, they had cross systems similar to this, but they were connected, so you had to have wires going from one ear to the other.
“With the BiCROS system, the two hearing aids communicate wirelessly, and so with Kay, for example, if she’s sitting at the dinner table with someone at her right side, she normally would not be able to hear that person at all. But with the BiCROS system, we’re able to take that information that goes into her right ear and send it over to her left ear so she can still hear that person over on her right side.”

A Discernable Difference

Kay regained that sensation of binaural hearing just a few days after she first met with Melanee and just moments after she was fitted for the BiCROS system in Melanee’s office.
“We put the hearing aids in her ears, and I had her stand in the doorway to my office with her right shoulder facing out toward the hallway,” Melanee explains. “Then I went down the hallway and talked to her on that right side. That signal was then transmitted to her left ear, and you could tell from the smile on her face just how excited she was that it was going to work for her.”
Kay confirms that she noticed a discernable difference in her ability to hear immediately after the hearing aids were put in. She adds that she celebrated her triumph that very day by going out to eat at a favorite local restaurant she had not visited in a while.
“It was just awesome to be able to hear that well, and so I was anxious to see how I was going to be able to hear the waitress,” Kay relates. “It turned out to be a really good experience. For one, I found that I didn’t have to read lips anymore.
“I explained to the waitress that I had just gotten my new hearing aids and I was excited to converse with her and see how the conversation went. She was really helpful. She stood there and we talked for a while, and it was a good experience.”
Kay says the best thing about the care she received from Melanee at Miracle-Ear is that it has allowed her to return to all the activities she had begun to avoid before she found the right solution for her hearing issues.
“I don’t mind going out now,” she notes. “I’m talking to my neighbors and socializing regularly again. And I don’t have to have the TV on so loud anymore like I did before. It’s all very good, and my family, my kids, they’re all very happy about it. Of course, so am I.
“I just can’t say enough good things about Miracle-Ear and Melanee. She was great. If I had to give her a grade, it would be an A. On a scale of one to ten, she gets a ten for sure.”

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