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Need input from pros/ audiologists

Bill & Val Fouts fwilliamatw at citlink.net
Mon Feb 23 04:49:42 EST 2004


My name is William. I am 42 years old and wear two BTE hearing aids. The 'ears' are Rion HB-53P, built in 1999 and pretty well worn out. I am a wildland firefighter currently, with a background in equipment operation and packing. (Packed horses and mules from 1977 to 1997). From 1989 until 1997 I operated heavy equipment in the winter, then from 1997 until 2001 I was a full time equipment operator. In 2001 I transferred to fire full time. As a firefighter I work around pumps, saws, equipment, engines and helicopters. And just for fun, I shoot a lot. Mostly target practice and hunting. I also cut 8-12 cords of wood a year.

By now your probably saying, yeah, he's deaf from all this and stupidity. 

I was first diagnosed as having a 'hearing loss' at age 4. My parents noticed that I did not respond when talked to, especially when my back was turned.They had my hearing tested to check for 'selective hearing', which was no surprise when it wasn't.Kindergarten testing showed a loss, but the inadequacy of the county schools testing equipment is apparent in their files and on the test.

 My mother was diagnosed with hearing loss in 1967/68, but first noticed the loss in 1957, her junior year. Mom went straight into BTE hearing aids at that time. 1966/67 was when I was tested. My Mom has three brother, all younger than her. #1 has no hearing problems, nor his wife or children. The same holds for #3. #2 wears hearing aids, as does his son. His daughter does not.

My father's hearing is good as is my brother, sister in law and their children.

My grandmother (maternal) started wearing ears in 1959, but had loads of hearing problems before then. Her mother lost her hearing along with one sister from fever caused by measles. The third sister had no problems. This is my great grandmother.

GGM married a man who was biologically deaf, and came from a family with several deaf children. However, we do not know how many children were deaf, if all were deaf, nor their sex other than my great grandfather. Nor do we know of my GGF's parents ability to hear or not.

My grandmother, mother and myself all have hereditary bi lateral sensorineural hearing loss. Mine is the earliest onset seen so far. I have two children. Both have had hearing tests conducted a day or so after birth and show no problems- so far. The fact remains that given the 50% differentiation through three generations, it's even odds one of them will show some loss of hearing. I refuse to fret about what my be, nor does my wife. Besides, there's a helluva lot worse that can happen than loss of hearing.

In April 2003, I went to Chico State Univ. and had my hearing tested there by Robert C. Blackmon, Ph.D.  CCC-A. I have a copy of the report. In the rough, left ear shows- 250- 55, 500- 60, 1000- 70, 2000- 70, 3000- 70, 4000- 65, 6000- 65, 8000- 55. Right ear shows; 250- 65, 500- 60, 1000, 2000, 3000, 4000 at 70, 6000- 80, 8000- 65. Your basic moderate to severe loss bilaterally.

Speech discrimination is high. 

I am looking at getting new H/A's. The Rion is comfortable and pretty well water resistant. I curious as to whether the Rion Water proof models or the Rion HB- 79 will provide the amount of auditory gain required. Also, the Rion have great sound- no tin horn or culvert pipe sound as previous ears have had. 

If you pro's would like, I have a goodly amount of info on my hearing through the years. I am willing to mail this to you in exchange for you opinions. I can also be reached by e-mail at fwilliamatw at citlink.net. 

Another question I ask. The National Park Service is instigating Medical Standards for all wildland firefighters. The current standards are no more than 40% loss unaided. And no hearing aids. My staff will ask for a waiver from this, due to the fact that there have been no problems with my hearing and safety on or off the line, in training or general field work. Since federal law states that discrimination is unlawful, what would be your opinion as professionals? Your input would be confidential and not quoted unless you specifically state that it is usable or I obtain your permission. 

Thank you for your time and I hope to 'hear' from many of you via email. Also, students, doctors and other medical specialists, and opinions from outside of the hearing arena are welcome.

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