Navigating the work force

I have had sensory neural hearing loss since birth. My left ear doesn’t pick up any sound and I wore an analog in the right.

In 9th grade, my hearing levels dropped significantly which warranted getting an CT scan to find out why. My cochleae are abnormal and could wake up tomorrow completely deaf.

In 2016, my 19 year old analog finally gave out. I’ve been without a hearing aid since then.

My job that I’ve had since 2012 is an office situation however, my boss has asked me at least once a month whether or not I am looking for a hearing aid. I keep skirting around it because of two reasons.

  1. I can’t do digital and have tried 5 times over the past 15 years to get a digital with no luck.
  2. I can’t afford a new hearing aid AND my deductible for my health insurance. Hearing aids DO NOT count towards your deductible (which I think is discrimination)

Now I find out that my boss asked a coworker whether or not I’ve had to ask them to repeat something when we have a conversation!

My boss has known since I was hired that I am hard of hearing and could lose my hearing without warning. When my boss speaks to me, I might need a few seconds to process the sound with what I read (from their lips) but if I don’t respond immediately, I get snapped at.

Things like this make me wonder if anyone else had a problem with their boss not being understanding with your hearing loss?

Depending on the state you live in you should be able to get some help with a hearing aid so it it helps you to be able to work.

Costco has really good hearing aids for $1500 a pair. They can be set up to be more linear (more like analog) but however they are, you need to wear them all day every day. You may not like them but the WILL help you understand speech better.

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I get physically sick from digital hearing aids. As soon as it is turned on, the room starts spinning and the nausea sets in. I can’t tolerate a digital for more than a minute.

Also, I can’t even talk because it clicks with every word I say…almost like someone is clicking a mute button on the hearing aid every time I say a word.

Maybe they were too loud. Very loud noise makes me dizzy and sick. Wearing hearing aids shouldn’t be that way. Something was wrong. That’s not the way all digitals are.


Unfortunately, it’s been that way with every single one.

I can’t think of a reason why that would happen. That is kind of like saying you can listen to a vinyl record playing, but as soon as a CD is played the room starts to spin and nausea sets in.

As was suggested by Don, a digital hearing aid can be set up to have no compression, and “should” sound very similar if not identical to an old analog. The prescription formula you need to ask for is called “1/3 gain”. This is a pure linear prescription with no compression. It does not restore hearing to the same level as a more modern prescription method, but it is often the one preferred by long time users of analog hearing aids.


They tried to get it to “mimic” an analog but then nothing came through…and I mean nothing. It like noise cancelling headphones with clicking every time I tried to explain what was going on. They would “turn it up” and I’d get physically sick.

Lifelong analog wearers are most often the ones rejecting the digital because sound is different and it never picks up what you want it to and picks up the sounds they’ve never heard, amplified by 1000%.

My side of the conversation with the audiologist would go like this…

I. Can’t. Tol…erate. This. It. Is. Mak…ing. Me. Dizzy. And. It. Is. Cli…ck…ing. With. Every. Word. I. Say.

Every single period in that sentence is a click. Nonstop clicking. Every word, every syllable.

One of the audiologist said I was imagining things. That it was all in my head. I was done after that point. I’m putting my time and energy into trying hearing aids only to have someone who is supposed to help me, call me crazy.

I know what I want and I know what I need but ironically, audiologists don’t want to listen.

It took years for me to figure out I had dead zones in my upper frequencies. When gain was applied to those areas I would get clicking and sometimes pain. It took the powerful Naida UP aids to prove this to me.
I am deaf in my right ear from 2000 hertz up and my left ear from 3000 hertz up. Thanks to modern digital aids with frequency lowering I now can hear birds, beepers in the car and house and my speech recognition is getting better.
I don’t know if this is anything like what you are dealing with but wanted to share this with you.

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Is it EVA? Have you been for a cochlear implant evaluation?

In either case, stop going to hearing instrument specialists if you have been. You’re too complicated. If you can find an established audiology clinic (that’s been around for a long time) they might still have a bunch of old analogue hearing aids in storage. They could pop one on to see whether the issue truly is that you have a problem with digital hearing aids.

Your issues are unusual, but I wouldn’t disbelieve you. Rather, I’d be suspicious that it is some aspect of newer digital hearing aids that is causing problems, not their basic digital-ness. I’ve seen dizziness to sound with profound losses, but in those cases the volume of sound going into the ear is very high. Much higher than I would expect gain settings for you if you are getting by okay without a hearing aid. But If your cochlea is unstable, that could lead to dizzy symptoms at a lower sound volume than would generally be expected. Do you still HAVE your old analogue? If so, the specification of the device are out there somewhere and the settings would still be visible on the hearing aid. It could theoretically give insight into what sort of amplification WAS working for you. This seems solvable, but you need to find a good detective.

Cochlea is abnormal so I don’t qualify for an implant. I have 2 twists with spacing instead of the 2.5 twists and no spacing.

I have the old analog but it is totally shot. 19 years of daily use does that.

And that’s another reason why analog is better. You have to get a new digital every 3-5 years whereas analog actually lasts.

I tried going directly to Starkey but with my 2nd visit I was ignored for 9 hours while those with $,$$$,$$$ were helped first despite my having an appointment at 9 am.

I tried going to the local hospital who had a visiting audiologist from a larger city, but that guy was the biggest idiot I’ve ever seen when it comes to hearing aids. He spent the entire appointment times on the phone with the maker of the hearing aid only to tell me “well there isn’t anything I can do.” That wasted 16 sick time hours from work.

In the last 10 years, I have visited 5 different audiologists with multiple appointments each which means taking time off of work. I’ve left every single appointment more and more defeated.

I have yet to fine someone who truly cares about those with hearing loss and are not trying to line their pockets (or their foundation’s bank account).

Even when I was a child, I’ve had problems with doctors and audiologists. I was 3 when my parents found out I was hard of hearing (I actually told my mom who tried to whisper in my left ear and I pointed to it and said “don’t work”). They took me to a clinic in a nearby larger city that had an audiologist. He said, “oh she has an ear infection.” Gave me a prescription for antibiotics and another appointment 2 weeks later. Went back and the ear infection was cleared up. He looked at me and said to my parents, “Well, there isn’t anything that can be done for her.” And he got up and was almost out the door when my parents said, “well what about hearing aids.”

His response was, “well I suppose you can try that…but not until she is about 8 or 9.” And he left. He couldn’t do surgery…thus get more money out of my parents so he told them to wait. He wanted me to wait until I was 8, completely missing out during the prime development ages!

Thank goodness my parents were both teachers and knew that I needed hearing aids right away. As it turns out, I could only use one because the left ear had no sound coming in.

I often wonder how many parents (who didn’t know better) were given the same advice from this hack and actually waited until their child was 8 or 9?

So, this should help you understand why I have a hard time trusting ANYONE with my ear.

It sounds like there might be some “legal issues” with the way your boss has been treating you about your hearing loss, but I am not a lawyer so will not comment further.

Similar to you I was born with sensory hearing loss in both ears, got aids when I was 3 years old and in 9th grade suffered more loss in one ear beyond being aidable that was useful. I then used an analog Bi-Cros system starting with Telex which became Phonak going thru 3 pairs over the last 37 years. Today I still have all 3 systems functional as backups.

I also have tried digital hearing aids several times over the last 15 years without much success. This summer I decided to try once again with a basic model Siemens Motion 13P NX 3 as digital aids finally are coming around with Bi-Cros solutions. I have found this pair to be “useable” with their being some pros and cons versus my old pair and being committed to making them work with adjustments as I learn more about pluses/minuses. Using a Bi-Cros does limit many of the speech capabilities unfortunately and because I am not hearing binurally that poses even more challenges for speech. In the past trials I never made it more than 1 week, but this time I have now gone 6 weeks. It almost feels like I am using a “loaner pair” and waiting for my old ones to be fixed which I know is not true. My audiologist had another client with similar background as me and has offered up to program them as “linear” (which the other client chose) if I want to try that mode as well which I am seriously considering for comparison.

I believe there are some companies that still provide analog hearing aids and you can probably find some used ones available online like Ebay etc. Have you tried to get your analog aids repaired? I just recently had my Phonak aid repaired for about $225 and it is from 2005, so almost 15 years old. If they can’t repair it, then they will let you know and you are just out some minor shipping expenses. But even after fixing it, I decided to try the digitals again as well and like I said before they are useable and with my decent insurance coverage it would not be worth the restocking expense to return them versus my cost. I’ve also gotten myself a programmer so I can experiment on my own with adjustments with the support of my audiologist.

Like many people have stated on the forums, it all comes down to finding the right audiologist willing to work with you to find an acceptable solution. While there may be cost burdens to some people, I’ve always viewed my hearing loss as a priority for treatment and am willing to pay reasonable amounts if they help me improve quality of my life.

I’m sure we have difference in hearing losses, so your results will most likely vary from mine, but I hope these ideas help, and good luck!

P.S. I will try to post back any updates with my linear experiments when I cross that bridge.

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Like @c11488 said, you might want to pursue you rights to work. If you have an HR dept start there. If not or your boss is the HR, contact an ADA office or advocacy dept to assist with educating your employer.

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