It’s A Hearing Aid. No Wait..It IS Bluetooth.


When I was barely a year old, my mom realized that there was something not quite right about me. Sure, laugh it up chuckles…I know there’s something not quite right with me. She however, could see something else, a pattern, a deficiency in my learning and speech. It wasn’t until I was nearly 3 that she got an ENT to finally see me, and then all was brought to the surface. I had a hearing impairment. 30 years ago though, things were different. My eustachian tubes didn’t grow right when I was born; they grew flat and narrow, not round and open. For years the doctors just threw sets of tubes in my ears. Eventually, it turned into more complex surgeries, prosthesis and implants, reconstructions, and just about any other procedure you can throw at broken ears.

At the age of 8, the doctors wanted me to start using hearing aids. I adamantly refused; by 14 I said yes. And as my Mom drove me home that afternoon, with ears filled with miracles of audiology, I stuck my head out the car window like a golden retriever; my eyes, closed, but my ears, open…to a brand new world.

Over the years, I’ve gone through many hearing aids.  For about 10 years though, I went without a hearing aid in my right ear because of an extreme case of cholesteatoma. It completely disintegrated all the bones and my ear drum was nothing but a lifeless flab of flesh. Fortunately, an awesome doctor in St. Louis at Washington University named Dr. Joel Goebel, was able to bring new life back to that ear; and now coupled with the experience and talent of audiologist Jennifer Listenberger (again, of Washington University), I can now hear in my right ear with the assistance of a hearing aid.

When I first got the new hearing aid for my right ear, I had the option of picking a color for it. A color? Hearing aids are flesh color aren’t they? Jennifer asked me if I was going to grow my hair out. I said “Hell no!”. “Gimme the blue one” I said. And since then, I’ve been asked, no less than twice a month, by someone, if whether or not my blue hearing aid was some kind of a new bluetooth headset.

Screen shot 2010-01-15 at 10.20.14 PMThe day has come however, where I can answer that misguided person, “Why yes…it is bluetooth…but it’s a hearing aid too”. As of today, I’m now the proud owner of a Phonak Versáta SP for my left ear; along with the iCom communication accessory.  In short, I can talk on my iPhone, via bluetooth, without ever picking up the phone, putting on a headset, or plugging in an ear piece…it all goes right through my hearing aid. I can even listen to the iPod on the iPhone through the iCom. As I sat in front of the TV tonight, with Rhyen leaning over my shoulder and Dylen laying against me, I was able to pair my bluetooth hearing aid and iCom with the MacBook Pro and listen to videos…yep…right through the hearing aid. I’ve already paired up with my Cisco phone at work too…worked flawlessly. In short, I’m happier than a puppy with two peters that I can hear.

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  1. #1 by renee on January 16, 2010 - 1:35 am

    You. Are. A. Phenomenal. Writer.
    About a hundred things flew through my thoughts as I read this, images, feelings-I *felt* the triumph and wonder of the moment you put your head out of the car window and heard the world-but even though I knew some of the “facts of the matter”, this piece just was really…Wow.
    It’s pretty damned amazing when a writer can make his reader feel *envy* towards a person with what is, to many people, a HUGE challenge. But that’s what I felt. Initial thought: “Whoa! He’s so lucky-being able to remember the exact moment one of his senses came came alive!”
    And it’s true. Do I wish you didn’t have to go through everything to get to that moment? Absolutely. But what got me is that you chose to remember and to write about *that* moment. That elation. I’m not sure that most people who acquired a hearing aid or something else that made them “different” at the brink of teenagehood would be able to do that.
    I’m not belittling the challenge it has been to you at all, nor what a integral part of you it is; it’s just that when I think of @VersaDave, the hearing loss is about number 50 on the list.
    You just blew my mind, sir.

  2. #2 by Phil Dalton on June 16, 2010 - 1:01 pm

    Can you tell me which CISCO phone you are using. Attemtps to make my CICSO 7960 and the old Iibra A210 and a special cable have not worked for me. Phil

  3. #3 by Christy on May 19, 2011 - 2:53 pm

    That is so cool! Such a neat innovation for hearing aids.

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