Ruth Kirkham has contributed to Hearing Aid Know for a while now, she suffered a Sudden Sensorineural Hearing Loss some time ago and has spoken of her experience here. Ruth has used hearing aids in the past, but her experiences have not been great. In this article, she talks about her recent experiences with The Opn 1 MiniRITE.
Oticon OPN1 miniRITE
Over the past few weeks, I have been trialling the Oticon OPN1 miniRITE. I trialled only one as I am single-sided deaf after a sudden sensorineural hearing loss 3 years ago. I thought that the last few weeks of the school summer term and the start of the summer holidays would be a perfect time to see if the OPN1 was up to the job of dealing with the noise and excitement of what is arguably, the noisiest time of year for any busy parent with young children.
Giving it a Workout
Some of the most challenging times with hearing loss are noisy and echoey rooms or wide-open areas with car and/or wind noise. Both situations make following conversation very tricky. So, to fully work the OPN1 I tested it out at Sports Day (wide open, windy and noisy), Class Assembly (large echoey hall with parents chatting and softly spoken children), school pick up on the last day of term (playground noise levels critical) and my sons 7th birthday party in our back garden (I don’t even know how to describe the noise levels for this one!). Rarely has there been a few weeks with a better/worse set of circumstances to trial a new hearing aid!
The very first day that I wore the OPN1 coincided with my son’s class assembly. I usually stick to a few rules in the school hall. I sit on the far left of the room - I’m left-sided deaf so this means that my right ear is directed toward the action and if any sociable parents sit next to me to chat beforehand, they’re on my good side so I can hear them reasonably well. Through pure lateness and lack of planning, this time I was on the far right of the room with a lovely, softly spoken parent on my left. Not ideal, but unusually I found that I could hear her pretty well.
Parents were nattering all around us but for once I wasn’t doing my swivel-headed owl impressions trying to rotate my right ear as far as I could to hear her. I was also struck by how well I could hear most of the children on stage. In the past, I just accepted that I couldn’t hear what they were saying and just oohed and ahhhed, laughed and clapped in unison with the other parents. This time though, all but the most quietly spoken children were audible and I was really pleased to be able to follow my son’s moment of fame as he recited his tiny, single sentence perfectly.
Sports Day Hoo Hah
So far so good for the OPN1 – pretty impressed. Next up was sports day. This was probably less of a resounding success, though not terrible. The wind, over-excited children and parents chatting and cheering was all a bit much and I struggled at times to hear what people on the left of me were saying. I also struggled to hear any announcements made over the noise of the crowd, though I think that this was potentially an unfortunate set of circumstances and wonder if those with pretty good hearing would have struggled at times also.
A few days later it was the last day of term. It’s usually pretty noisy in the playground at pick up time as the leavers have a massive water fight with the teachers and all of the children are on a high. With the wind quite settled I found the OPN1 really quite useful. I could hear the other parents along with most of what the children were saying without always having to bend down to their level. To be fair the atmosphere was more subdued than expected as the weather had taken a turn and the soaked children were all pretty cold, so the OPN1 had to deal with a fair bit of moaning and wailing rather than the usual shrieking and screaming. But another solid outing for this hard-working hearing aid.
Back Garden Party
With term over we headed into the holidays with only one thing on our minds – a back garden birthday party with nine little boys fuelled only by pinata sweets and birthday cake. I’d worried that I’d not be able to hear what the children were saying or that if I had to raise my voice I’d deafen myself with that awful booming occlusion effect that so often happens with a new hearing aid. Thankfully though, I didn’t experience that at all. To be honest I didn’t have the time to think about the OPN1 even once during the party which means that it worked beautifully and allowed me to hear everything without even a little of the frustration that so often clouds special days and noisy events. Even when I had to shout over the children’s noise, I felt quite comfortable with the OPN1 and had none of the noise rebound that I’d anticipated.
A Huge Thumbs Up
Overall, I’ve been really pleased with the difference that the OPN1 has made to my hearing. I did have a few pairing issues at the outset as I tried to connect the aid to my iPhone – though a quick call to Oticon soon had everything up and running perfectly. With previous aids I’ve found that I can’t have them turned up high enough to match my hearing profile as they would distort on the highest frequencies where my hearing loss is most pronounced. No such problem with the OPN1 which handles the full spectrum of my hearing loss really well. The only time that the aid struggled a little was when there was lots of wind noise combined with excitable children, lots of talking and announcements at sports day. I’m fairly certain that these are challenging conditions even for the most able of hearers, so the OPN1 MiniRITE gets a huge thumbs up from me!