Revenge of the Battery Snatchers

I think I speak for all people, not just hearing impaired people, when I say batteries are the bane of my existence.

But wait, hold on Shayna. Aren’t batteries a blessing? Aren’t they the reason you can use your phone, your laptop, your hearing aids?

Fine, yes, that is true.

But they are the reason I can use my phone, my laptop, and my hearing aids.

Imagine this: it is the first week of July and you are in Maui with your family on vacation. You are totally unplugged. Kind of. You have your personal audio cable hooked up to  your cochlear to you can listen to music, and yeah, your Dry Store hearing aid cleaner and your cochlear charger are all plugged in, blinking lights galore. But other than all that, you are totally unplugged. Yes, listening to your strange, confused playlist in which Trevor Hall songs follow Kanye songs follow Taylor Swift songs.

Then.

Horror of all horrors. Your phone’s battery symbol turns red. “Less than 20% remaining.” You feel annoyed (first world problems, to be sure) but you decide to keep your Zen. You are in Maui. You don’t need Apple.

You unhook your audio cable and remove your coverup, grab your sister, and hightail it to the warm Pacific Ocean.

Enter tropical wind. It brings AWESOME waves. You are kind of nervous, because you decided to keep your implant and hearing aid in. They are both supposedly water resistant. But still. You flow along happily with the current, timing the waves perfectly as you gently float over each one. But uh oh, this one looks kind of big. You stay calm. You resume your pattern of timing. Ready, one two three UP and over.

Oof. You are placed exactly where the wave decided to break. Luckily, you did not get pounded in the tumbling white froth zone. But you took a bit of a licking from the tip of the wave. So did half of your hearing aid. It sounds a little echo-y all the sudden, and you realize that water has seeped through the filters. You will have to change them tonight.

Your hearing aid gives a meek warning beep, signaling the battery is about to die. What? You changed it this morning. It should at least last all day. You are annoyed again. Except this time it isn’t first world problems. It is every world problems. It is your hearing, for goodness sakes.

At least you didn’t wear your disposable cochlear implant battery. The case for the disposable implant battery is perforated with holes so that the removable batteries can breathe. The rechargeable ones that you are wearing today have no holes, because there are no removeable batteries. You simply charge them up each night.

Your hearing aid is slowly dimming. And then it goes dead. You trudge out of the ocean and find your beach bag, where you have packed extra hearing aid batteries and extra cochlear implant batteries. You remove your hearing aid and see that water has seeped through the filter into the battery compartment, effectively damaging the battery. You dry it out, replace the battery and resume your beach fun, with more caution this time.

It is later in the evening. You and your family are ready to go to dinner. Your hearing aid and implant have had some much needed R&R time in your Dry Store while you showered and got dressed. You are ready for a beautiful Maui evening. You get to the restaurant and order the Catch of the Day and sip on some Hawaiian fruit punch (non-alcoholic, calm down), but then your worst fear happens. The cochlear implant battery — your trusty rechargeable one — has started to die. The hearing aid dying is one thing. The hearing aid is more of a supporting actress. The implant, however, is the Clint Eastwood, the Leonardo DiCaprio, the Chris Pratt of the production that is your life — the lead actor. You dig into your purse and pull out the disposable cochlear implant batteries and accompanying battery case. Looks like second string batteries were going to save the day after all. You deftly perform the switch in your chair, because discreetly changing batteries in public is kind of your thing. Or you don’t really care, hard to tell. The implant comes back to life, and sounds more vibrant than ever before.

You love batteries. But you also hate them.

Aaaand end scene. Thanks for joining me on that ride folks. Allow me to explain some of these phenomenons I experienced on my vacation.

For the hearing aid, it is pretty simple. It is only water resistant around the case, not the filter. Water can seep through the filter and, if there is a filter on the battery door like there is on mine, it will enter the battery compartment and cause the hearing aid to die. No need to panic — you haven’t broken your hearing aid! You just need a small battery switch.

For the rechargeable battery dying, that is a matter of upkeep. You want to buy new rechargeable batteries at the very least every five years. I have heard the recommended life span is 1-2 years. Mine made it to around five. I don’t really know the science behind this mechanism but what I can do is give you this analogy: the rechargeable are kind of like a cell phone. When you first buy it, it really holds its charge. After a couple years, you have to recharge more frequently. That is the extent of my knowledge. I recommend checking out the cochlear website for more details.

The removable/disposable batteries are not really second string like I described here. The sound quality is actually the same. I refer to it as second string in my life because I use the rechargeable ones, mainly to lower costs of buying a thousand 675-sized batteries for the disposable ones. Those for me usually last a day, and the implant requires two 675s at any given time, so I could go through 14 of them in one week, which isn’t my idea of fun. There is also a delay time before I can put the implant in if I use the removable batteries. I tend to let the batteries sit out a little bit (before I put them in) to adjust to the air. Technically, you don’t have to do this because the battery case is perforated, but I always feel like it sounds a little better if I do. Also, because the disposable ones are perforated to let air in (these 675s need contact with air to perform maximally) this makes the battery less waterproof. Since I like to have the most simple, fuss free battery, I use the rechargeable ones. They usually last all day (up to 16 hours for me) and can handle water or any other situation. But that is just my opinion. What works for you is what you should do.

I want to reiterate that my life usually isn’t this inconvenient. As always, trips involving a lot of water are always tough on hearing devices, so this was actually an extenuating circumstance. For instance, now that I am back home in less drier situations with newer rechargeable batteries, life is fantastic.

I also want to say that not every moment of my Maui vacation was like this either. In fact, most of the time, it wasn’t. I made sure to put newer rechargeable batteries in and I got better at going with the flow of the ocean, so all my other aquatic experiences were much better.

It is all about staying positive, even if a situation is a little more difficult than what you are accustomed to. Anyone can have fun with and without hearing devices, so even when a battery dies, it is only a marginal setback.

And, you guys. It’s Maui. How upset can you really be?!

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