As someone born with mild to severe sensorineural hearing loss in my right ear and mild to moderately severe sensorineural hearing loss in my left ear, I’ve been wearing hearing aids most of my life and have tried many different types. All have their advantages and disadvantages.
In March of this year, I became aware of a new type of hearing aid that can be implanted deep into the inner ear canal just a few millimeters from the ear drum called the Lyric. I wanted to share with all of you my experience with the Lyric hearing aid in hope that some of you searching for the best solution for your hearing needs may have a similar outcome. After getting some preliminary information about the Lyric HA's, I located a local audiologist who dispenses them and setup an appointment to see if I was a candidate for the Lyric. After testing my hearing and thoroughly inspecting both ears, I was determined to be a candidate for the Lyric, though I was warned my ear canals have a curve that could potentially cause problems. I agreed to undergo a 30 day trial to see if Lyric was right for me. The initial fitting involved inserting a small round object with a thin piece of plastic protruding from one side all the way into the ear until the plastic thread made contact with the ear drum. This was somewhat painful in my left ear, and extremely painful in my right ear causing it to be sore for a few days. It felt like someone had stuck a lit cigarette all the way into my ear. They would have to put me under to do another fitting :). Anyways, the lyric is made up of two segments of a yellow foam-life material blanketing the electronics that is supposed to allow the inner ear to "breathe" even when the device is in place. These foam pieces come in different sizes based on the size of your ear canal. My audiologist was eventually able to get both Lyric devices to fit snugly in my inner ear canals after trying a couple different sizes. The next step involved eliminating feedback and fine-tuning the programming using a small computer-like device. The difference was astounding. It was like being able to hear for the first time in my life. I went home with the lyrics for my 30 day trial and literally had tears of joy standing in my back yard being able to hear the wind, the rustling of leaves, birds singing, far away traffic, the grass crunching beneath my feet, unseen people talking in neighbor's yards, and sounds I have never heard before in my life and had no idea what they were. Every activity I engaged in, everywhere I went was like a whole new experience for me. Nobody had a clue that I wore hearing aids or that I was even hearing impaired. I could hear high pitched voices just as well as low pitched voices, near or far, facing me or otherwise. Initially the sensation is like having ear plugs deep inside your ear. The discomfort for me was very subtle, nothing I had to take any ibuprofen for. Some things I noticed right away is that when walking (especially barefoot) I hear a "thump thump", not the amplified sound of me walking, but it sounds almost as if it's in my head, as a result of each step. Also, when laying down, I could hear my heart beating inside my head. Neither bothered me significantly and my brain quickly adjusted to these side-effects of the Lyrics to the point I can no longer hear my heart beating when laying down even if I try, and the "thump" from walking barefoot has become so quiet I have to think about it to notice it. Another issue I encountered is when chewing food, sometimes I would hear a "click" most likely the result of the shape of my ear canal changing somewhat and impacting my right Lyric. This went away completely as the devices "settled" over a period of weeks or my brain learned to tune it out. The sensation of having my ear canals semi-permanently blocked in such a way was challenging for me to deal with but I wanted so badly for my ears to be compatible with Lyrics I dug deep to find the strength and motivation to carry on with my trial. As the weeks went by, I encountered minor difficulties with irritation inside my ear canals which were cured by simply removing the Lyric's for a brief period. My audiologist was able to extend my trial for me to make sure these irritations wouldn't be an ongoing problem. By the end of my trial I had eliminated all of the minor problems I experienced with the Lyrics and had completely adapted to them. No longer could I even tell the Lyrics were there, my ears felt just as they would if the Lyrics weren't inserted. I was sold on a plan which set me back a hefty $3,190 for a year subscription, but ultimately in my opinion, a small price to pay for being able to hear more or less like a normal person. I am now 5 months into my subscription and it has been absolutely life-changing for me. I've only had to replace the Lyrics once, and only because I was nearing the end of the estimated battery life with a pending trip to Hawaii. My audiologist replaced the devices so I wouldn't be stranded in Hawaii should the batteries finally die. One of my major concerns was wearing the Lyrics in water. I planned to do some snorkeling in Hawaii so I worked with my audiologist to size me for some Doc's Pro Plugs and a Ear-Band It. If I inserted the plugs with the Lyrics on, I would get feedback so I turned them to "sleep", eliminating all feedback. Next I wrapped the Ear Band-It as directed and proceeded to snorkel to my hearts content with no water entering my ears. The funny thing was, even with the Lyrics set to "sleep" and plugs in my ears, I was still able to engage in conversation. The sleep mode in lyrics allows for slight amplification so they aren't completely off, important in case there is a fire while you're sleeping for example, you don't want to be completely deaf and not hear the smoke alarm, but still quiet enough to greatly aid falling asleep if you live with someone who snores :D. It's about 2 months now after my trip to Hawaii and I'm still wearing the same Lyric devices that were inserted before the trip. The Pro-Plugs are also worn in the shower to stop moisture from entering the ear canals and shortening the lifespan of the Lyrics. Now that I'm fully acclimated to the Lyrics, it's hard to imagine a device that would be an improvement. They are completely invisible. My audiologist tested my hearing with the Lyrics in and I hear almost as well as a normal person in some frequencies, and better than a normal person in other frequencies. I understand they are analog devices, mainly I suspect to conserve battery power, but this has never been an issue for me. Controlling the Lyric is very simple, you hold a small magnetic wand just inside your ear canal to turn the devices on/off or to change the volume. This same magnetic wand unscrews and turns into a removal device should you need to remove the Lyric yourself. Removal involves using the claw on the removal tool to catch the loops protruding from the outer part of the Lyric, and gently pulling it out with a rotating motion. Being young and a college student, it was important to me that nobody could tell I wore hearing aids because of the stigma attached to them. I've dealt with the stigma, it's unfortunate, but it is what it is: people will assume things about you or treat you different just because you wear hearing aids. This is why I want to share my story about the Lyric hearing aid. Having been hearing impaired my whole life I completely understand what it is like to have people staring at your hearing aids, greatly exaggerating pronunciation, or yelling to talk to you when they don't need to, all of which I personally found bothersome and even insulting or demeaning in some cases. Likewise, it is frustrating for others to deal with your hearing loss and embarrasing when you completely hear somebody wrong and say something that gets you weird looks. Well that is my experience thus far with Lyric, I'm not even halfway through my subscription and I can say that it would be impossible for me to go back to any other hearing aid. I literally forget I even wear them. I never have to remove them or mess with them in any way except when showering, swimming, or setting them to "sleep" for bed. I would be happy to answer any questions, and I sincerely hope each and every one of you is able to find a hearing solution, Lyric or otherwise, that brings as much joy and self-confidence back into your life as the Lyric has brought me.