I recently went on a two-week road trip with my partner to explore the beautiful state of Colorado. We spent hours in the car driving from one place to another, and in between driving we hiked, rode bikes and checked out local eateries. We were in a variety of challenging listening environments and adapting our communication methods to best share the experiences we were having together. At this point, I had forgotten about traveling with a Roger microphone.
Being in the car is the most challenging listening environment for me. There are a lot of noises from the road, wind, and radio. My partner and I took turns driving, and as a driver, I was focused on my surroundings and where I needed to go. I could not concentrate and listen at the same time. I kept asking for repetition and turning my head to lipread. This was frustrating because as much as I love to drive, I did not want to spend hours in the car sitting in silence due to the inability to hold a conversation. Even as a passenger, I continued having difficulty hearing. The surrounding noises from the road were distracting and I could not lipread while looking at my partner’s side profile.
Then, I remembered that I brought my Phonak Roger microphone with me. I immediatly had my partner wear it. It made a whirlwind of a difference in our communication. I was able to be both a driver and passenger, holding conversations without turning my head to lipread. I did not feel as tired at the end of the day from listening. My partner was also pleased with wearing the Roger microphone because he did not have to keep repeating himself. It was a simple solution; however, it took time to remember I had this solution readily available. I realized I needed to make using Roger a habit.
“I was able to be both a driver and passenger, holding conversations without turning my head to lipread.”
I am both an audiologist and an individual with hearing loss. However, I encounter communication challenges despite having access to technology. Some situations I cannot modify and have to adapt as best as possible. Other situations I can improve my listening environment, but forget to use the technology available to me.
It is up to those with hearing loss to actively take ownership of the situation to make it better. As a hearing aid and cochlear implant user, this is something I keep striving to improve.
“It is up to those with hearing loss to actively take ownership of the situation to make it better.”
Starting a new habit can be difficult because it takes repetition and remembering to make it a natural occurrence. Putting on your hearing aids in the morning is a habit. For a new hearing aid user, this habit takes time to develop. Once that habit is developed, it becomes difficult to break. I have been wearing hearing aids since infancy. I do not need to think about putting them on as wearing them is part of my morning routine. However, I need to apply this habit to the Roger microphone.
It helps when loved ones remind me to bring the Roger microphone with me, as my partner did when we rented bikes to navigate around the city. Reminders from others reinforce the benefit of this technology. During the bike ride, we were riding in single file on the street with cars driving by and the wind blowing over my hearing aid microphones. Without Roger, I would have had significant trouble hearing. With Roger, I could hear my partner telling me a car was coming up behind us or to make a turn on this street. It was also nice to hear him point out something interesting he saw along the way.
“With Roger, I could hear my partner telling me a car was coming up behind us or to make a turn on this street. It was also nice to hear him point out something interesting he saw along the way.”
During the hikes, most of the trails were too narrow to walk side by side. Also, the trails were on challenging terrain where it was important to concentrate on our steps. Using Roger allowed continuous communication even with the lack of visual cues.
I am a “foodie” and love trying local restaurants and breweries. The decor in many of these venues are not designed to be acoustically friendly. They are noisy, reverberant, and crowded. Sometimes the wait would be long, so we would eat at the bar sitting side by side, making the ability to lipread challenging. However, when I remember to bring Roger with me, none of these things matter because I can hear and understand. I do not have to compromise social engagement to enjoy a new dining experience.
Read more: My 5 favorite ways to use my Roger pen
Throughout this trip Roger was a handy companion of mine. I charged it every night next to my phone and in the morning, unplugged it and put it in my bag. This way I always had it on me. I did not use the microphone every day, but when I found myself unexpectedly in a difficult listening situation, I knew I had it ready. This trip helped me develop a new habit – that I had this technology available and to take advantage of it. Roger made for an excellent traveling companion.