Gadget makes listening easier

Published 10:06 am Saturday, February 18, 2012

Well, it happened again. I pulled my cell phone out of my purse and dialed my daughter’s number. From all indications on the face of the phone, it rang and she answered, but I couldn’t hear anything. In a few minutes, the cell phone rang and identified her as the caller. I answered. Nothing. I adjusted the volume. Again nothing. How frustrating. “Technology,” I grumbled, looking at the cell phone with disgust. Now what in the world was the problem?

People who see me these days might notice the white gizmo with four buttons that I wear on a cord around my neck. Some are so curious they ask about it. I suspect most think it’s one of those devices you punch in an emergency to call for help. It’s not. It’s called a streamer, a sophisticated device that connects to my hearing aids and adjusts the volume with a punch of one of the buttons. I can touch another of those buttons and it “mates” with my cell phone. That way when I dial a number or receive a call, the sound comes right into my ears, via my hearing aids. There’s a tiny microphone on top of the streamer that I use to speak on the cell phone, even if the phone is buried in my purse as it often is. I also have a box connected to a television set that transmits the sound through my hearing aids. Another box on a land-line telephone does the same just by pushing the right button. I can get as far as thirty feet away from the television set and still be tuned in to the sound. Sure comes in handy if I didn’t run to the refrigerator for a snack during a commercial. I can dash in during the middle of a program and still hear what’s happening.

Of course, my wonderful streamer is another one of those things that requires charging every night. I really haven’t timed it, but when it needs a charge, a red light flashes on the streamer and several sirens blast in my ear. That only happens if I’ve worked it overtime, like watching television too long, combined with indulging in longer than usual cell phone conversations.

Now back to my problem. What was wrong with that cell phone? Two little squiggles on it indicated that the phone and streamer were communicating. I knew the volume was on high. Just as I was edging close to hitting the panic button, it struck me. There was nothing wrong with anything. The problem was no hearing aids. I had removed them while I was in the beauty shop and forgot to put them back in. Then I remembered it had happened once before.

I scrambled in my purse and with a huge sigh of relief, grasped a special little pouch containing my hearing aids. Within seconds, I put everything back in working order. “Ah, technology,” I said, smiling. I was in touch again.