Wednesday, January 8, 2014

Say hello to my little friends

I call them 'PI' and 'TA'. They are of course my ridiculously expensive hearing aids. Say hi guys.

We've just sucked 1 year of your retirement away. 
Yes, I need them. Badly. Born with hearing loss, I cleverly disguised my difficulties with ever-changing coping mechanisms from reading ahead in class to reading to responding to what I thought I heard. No one would ever know! And they didn't, not for many years, until I spectacularly failed a hearing exam given school. My mom huffed and puffed and took me to an audiologist's office where...they confirmed nothing. I passed all of those tests with no issues so back to school I went with nothing done. Year after year the school nurse insisted I see an audiologist as I wasn't hearing the tones. I was failing! I would fail out of school, destined to work menial jobs, forever chained to a name tag. Except I wasn't. I was an excellent student, mostly A's, some B's (until Algebra, Calculus and Chemistry joined in the fun but let's not talk about them).

Let's face it - school when I was growing up consisted of following along in the book of whatever subject you were learning about. There wasn't real interaction, exchange of thoughts. That sort of thing in a Catholic school is anathema so I excelled at book learning. It wasn't hard to mask a disability I didn't know that I had. Finally in middle school, an audiologist was able to confirm what the school nurses had been saying for years: I was missing a huge chunk of sounds. My difficulty is with low tones so low talkers, people facing away from me, a lot of background noise, in those environments it's very hard for me to hear. So I resisted hearing aids because there was no way in hell I was wearing hearing aids in high school. Were they insane?! For over 20 years I've hemmed and hawed and put it off until what I was missing was more than what I was getting. So I broke down and met with an audiologist last fall. They gave me the results in hushed tones, not wanting to upset me but...there was no longer a 'good' ear. It used to be I could hear better out of my right ear than my left one but not anymore. Way to be an overachiever, self! Also, no shit, Sherlock.

The good news just kept on coming - reviewing the my health insurance benefits it was discovered that they covered...nothing! Everything out of pocket and doesn't go to meeting the deductible. Whee! So in case you were wondering, CIGNA thinks that being able to hear is a luxury so you might as well brush up on your lip-reading and ASL cuz that shit's expensive. To the tune of $1,800 each for the in-the-ear type and if you need two, well hello darlin'! You're looking at $3,600. For the middle of the road technology. But hey, it's cool. I've been saving in a HSA for 2 years, we got this. That's what the account is for, amirite? Ha. Haaaa. No.

Well, sort of but see, there's a daily  transaction limit of $3,000. Even those who have trouble with math know that $3,600 is more than $3,000. Here's the best part: NO WHERE does it tell you there's a transaction limit. You need to get special authorization for any amount over $3,000. Fine, patch me through to the bank that holds the account...what? Why am I getting a voicemail at a bank on a Monday....crap. It's Veteran's Day. A bank holiday. So there I was with two new hearing aids that needed to be paid for with almost $9,000 available in my HSA but can't get to it because NO ONE WAS HOME.

Much wine was consumed that evening.

So learn from my experiences lest ye be left holding the bag-o-hearing aids in a doctor's office:

  1. Always listen to the school nurse
  2. Hearing is a luxury if you have CIGNA insurance
  3. Don't make major purchases with your own money on a bank holiday

Now if only there was a way to improve my typing and handwriting. Torpedos, anyone?


  1. I love that you are writing about this. =) I have my own hearing & audio processing issues, people have no idea how dependent I am on lip reading. A friend of mine from the Lexx days -> is one of the characters in the true story "Walking Free: The Nellie Zimmerman Story". I'm glad you are sharing your story so other people have something to find when they search the internet on days that they need more support. <3 I bet you have some interesting stories to tell.

  2. damn dawn...... i love how honest you are and cannot believe that you were limited in the spending of your OWN money!!!! hello - Can You Hear Me Now?

    love you hunny :)


  3. Jan, I 'hear' you! I need to be face to face to really be able to figure out what folks are saying. Of course, the kids think it's a game and just mouth things to test doesn't work like that - they have to say real words or the tongue/lip positions are right. Oh well, at least I amuse them...that way they'll be sure to choose a good nursing home for me!

  4. I know Holly, isn't it ridiculous? I spent over 40 minutes calling CIGNA to try to get it resolved: was it by transaction (what I was first told) or was it a daily cap? No one knew what was going on and actually had a 'customer service rep' hang up on me. Never did get through to a supervisor. It ended okay; the doctor's office ran the transaction per hearing aid on separate days and voila! It went through. I can kind of laugh about it now but that day? Flames, on the sides of my face....


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