Thursday, November 20: Another busy morning with patients, mostly older adults. The first patient was a 75-year-old gentleman who had hearing aids, but he felt that he was hearing too much background noise, while not understanding speech any better. Ellen and I switched him out of power hearing aids into less powerful hearing aids, and he was so much happier with the sound of the new hearing aids. He told us he wanted us to come back to the clinic as soon as possible, which was so sweet to hear.
The next patient came in wearing super-power hearing aids, which (based on his audiogram) was too powerful a choice for him. However, he absolutely loved them and didn’t want anything changed, so we left them as-is, and decided to focus on modifying his earmolds instead; they weren’t fitting in his ears very well. I was glad to have brought along my Dremel drill for earmold modifications. We removed the helix lock from the earmolds and smoothed everything down. The patient was much happier after those modifications, and told us “I like you very much, Americans!”
The rest of Thursday morning was fairly routine, with a few hearing aid checks/adjustments and evaluations. At lunch, Lu surprised us with another special dessert in our honor. I can’t begin to express how much we love the staff here. They are so kind to us and have quickly become like a second family. I’m pretty sure everyone just wants to adopt Ellen because they adore her. It’s really wonderful, and so comforting.
After lunch, we had a brief interview with a reporter from a radio station, which was a nice chance to talk about the wonderful work being done at Vivo o Som, and how much we were enjoying the opportunity we’d been given to come down and meet and work with the incredible staff and wonderful patients there.
After the interview, we had three of the clinic’s younger patients come in so we could provide them with Oticon Streamers, which allow a user to connect their hearing aids to various other devices (like cell phones, MP3 players, etc.). It was fun to interact with the kids who came in. One was a 19-year-old boy with severe to profound hearing loss, and he was very eager to try out some English phrases with us. He said he really wanted to learn more English, so we encouraged him to use his new Streamer to listen to American music and television so he could hear the English words more clearly despite his hearing loss. I hope it goes well for him! One of the other patients who came in that afternoon was an absolutely adorable 10-year-old girl with moderate to profound hearing loss. She was excited to get the Streamer so she could listen to her cell phone and to music (although she looked at me like I was an idiot when I mentioned Justin Bieber… I think I’m a bit out of touch with what the kids are listening to these days).
We finished up a bit early since it was such a light afternoon, so Ellen and I sorted through the new hearing aids that Oticon had sent with us, along with the other hearing aids the clinic had in stock, and got everything boxed and labeled. Hopefully that makes Rildo’s job a bit easier after we go!
We had a quiet dinner that night, and after dinner we had a wonderful conversation with Vanessa about the work we’d been able to accomplish that week. It was so nice to hear that the Foundation felt that we’d been doing great work, and that the amazing synergy we felt with the clinic staff was something we were all feeling. We wish we could have stayed longer! We all agreed that it would be fantastic if Ellen and I could return sometime in the near future so we could extend the work we had been doing.
Friday, November 21: Another early morning in clinic. Today was the day I wanted Ellen to be “in the driver’s seat” for most of the appointments, as she’s shown over and over again that she’s more than capable of making great clinical decisions. It turned out to be our busiest day of the week—we ended up seeing 13 patients! The morning was interesting; we did a new hearing aid fitting on an 82-year-old gentleman with mild sloping to profound hearing loss. He was very happy with his new hearing aids!
Next we actually had a quick visit from our 10-year-old patient from Thursday, who we’d provided with a Streamer. She’d had some difficulty getting her cell phone to pair with the Bluetooth on the Streamer (kids these days!), so Rildo helped her get that straightened out and we sent her on her way very happy.
Our next patient was actually Davison’s great-grandmother—a very sweet woman. She had a profound unilateral hearing loss, so we did a little Aural Rehabilitation/listening strategies counseling… most of which she was already doing in her daily life. Still, it was so nice to meet her!
Next we saw a 79-year-old man who had us cracking up. When he came in, he said his hearing aids weren’t working well, so we cleaned them out. Then he told us that speech wasn’t very clear to him, so we made some adjustments to the hearing aid program, and he was much happier with the sound of the hearing aids after that. One of the funnier things that he told us was that his hearing aids help him with his “internet chat sessions”. I don’t know why that tickled us so much, but there was just something about this nearly-eighty-year-old man talking to us about how much his hearing aids help his social life… it was just great.
Our next patient was an established patient who has asymmetric hearing loss—one ear had significantly better hearing than the other. Unfortunately, he was wearing the high-power hearing aid on his BETTER ear, meaning he was getting way too much volume on one side, and not nearly enough on the other. We switched them around and made several programming adjustments. He was a little hesitant to continue wearing the hearing aid on his better ear, but we encouraged him to try it for at least 1-2 weeks and then come back and see Rildo for some adjustments.
Friday afternoon was a bit of a blur, because we had EIGHT patients that afternoon! Ellen and I totally thought Davison was kidding when he told us that (he’s quite a jokester), but then we looked outside and saw the line of people waiting. Yikes! It was mostly hearing aid fittings and hearing aid checks, along with one poor guy who came in with a broken nose (he thought we were ENT doctors instead of audiologists). We also got to see our 8-year-old patient from Wednesday night (the one whose new hearing aids couldn’t be programmed even after two hours of troubleshooting). We got his new hearing aids on him, and we made some new earmold impressions. We just love this kiddo! He’s got such a great attitude.
Our very last patient of the week turned out to be one of our favorites. She was a 19-year-old girl who was Deaf. She was a fluent sign language user, but one of the things she wanted more than anything was to be able to hear SOMETHING—anything! Ellen did her audiogram and found severe-to-profound hearing loss that looked very aidable. We went ahead and did earmold impressions and then talked to her quite a while about what hearing aids would and would not be able to do for her. We felt like it was very likely that hearing aids would give her environmental sound awareness, but probably not any speech recognition, but she was very happy anyway. She was a lot of fun and we really enjoyed joking around with her. I wish we could be there in three months when she gets her new hearing aids—Rildo and Vanessa better take some pictures and send them to us!
We finished clinic at 7:30 and were completely wiped out. I can’t even remember what we did for dinner—all I wanted to do was SLEEP. What a great day, though. One of our best!