To wear the Phonak CROS, I simply pop the hearing aids around my ear and close the battery cartridges. After a few seconds I hear a beeping sound to indicate that they are “on”. As a high school student with early mornings, I find that this has become routine, just like putting on my glasses or brushing my teeth.
Compared to the other hearing devices I have tried, the Phonak CROS is the most comfortable and manageable. The main body of the CROS device is quite small and fits snugly behind my ear. I have the Phonak CROS H2O, which is water-resistant. This feature is perfect for me since I wear the CROS during PE and other movement-intensive activities.
The earpiece of the CROS can either be a tip, dome, or mold. The dome works for me and keeps the hearing aid secure. As a dancer, this is especially important. I never have any trouble with the earpiece falling off or causing static noise. As for maintenance, I typically change the earpiece once a month and the wire once a year. Other than that, my CROS hearing aids have never needed repairs and they are quite durable through wear and tear.
Read more: Living with single-sided hearing loss
Before using the Phonak CROS, I spoke very loudly in conversations because I could not hear others’ responses or my own voice clearly. After using CROS, I noticed the difference in loudness, which helps me control my volume. This comes in handy when teachers ask us to use indoor voices or if I am in a quiet location, such as the library.
I also had difficulty knowing when someone was trying to approach me. Whether this was during class or in social situations, it was awkward when I finally noticed the person but could not respond to their inquiry. I was often disoriented and alarmed when a teacher or classmate tried to talk to me from my bad side. The CROS allows me to receive sound from my bad ear. This helps with holding impromptu conversations without constantly repositioning myself. It makes socializing less frustrating and I have been able to form connections with new friends a lot easier and quicker.
I am a longtime dancer. During group dances and practices, I often bumped into others because I did not notice them coming up behind me. It was stressful to dance while avoiding a stray foot or arm. This problem occurred as well in PE classes when we played team sports or ball games. I got hurt because I did not hear someone calling “heads up.” It made activities that were supposed to be fun full of anxiety.
Since wearing the Phonak CROS, it has been easier to locate objects and people. I find myself less tired after practice sessions because I do not have to think so much about navigation or being clumsy. I get hurt less as well. Knowing when a person or ball is coming toward me makes PE a much better experience and I can engage more during Capture the Flag, rugby, and other team sports.
“Since wearing the Phonak CROS, it has been easier to locate objects and people.”
I was also in choir for a few years and struggled with my pitch and intonation. It was difficult since I could not really hear myself or others. I still remember my choir teacher noting that I was constantly off pitch. After getting the Phonak CROS, I noticed an immediate change in sound. It is hard to describe to those who have never experienced it, but sound becomes fuller.
My singing improved after wearing the CROS device and listening to music became a wonderful experience. I never knew there was that much sound! Sometimes I just wear my CROS hearing aids so I can listen to the environment around me or my favorite song.
In school, I often have to wear earbuds for video lectures or music. Before getting the ComPilot II with my CROS, I had to take out my hearing aids and put in earbuds to stream media. Now all my devices connect automatically to the ComPilot. With one simple click, I can listen to music or play videos without the hassle.
Another device I love using is the Phonak Roger On. In high school, I have a lot of discussions and group work. The two hardest classes for me are French and literature, where hearing others is a crucial part of class. The Roger On acts as an amplification device that works well for group settings. I connect the device to my Phonak CROS through the ComPilot. It focuses on the nearby sounds and helps in those social situations.
Overall, I have been using the Phonak CROS for four years and love the different features. I remember the first time I put on the Phonak CROS and was introduced to a whole new world of sound. It does take some getting used to. But it makes my life easier and my experiences fuller, especially as a student juggling a crazy schedule.