I’m All Ears

Since the government agency wouldn’t accept Total Hearing’s proposal for the daughter’s hearing aids, she had to go to another hearing center, get her hearing retested and have another proposal sent in.  Because I/we provide most of her transportation, the wife and I went along and watched and listened.  The more we saw and heard, the more dissatisfied the wife became with both the hardware and the customer interaction.  With three of their number being charged with various frauds, there was no assurance that they would remain in business to provide future parts and service.  When they handed over the hearing aids, they verbally assured us that there was a 90-day return period, if we were not happy for any reason.

The wife decided to take them up on their offer, and we were immediately tangled in red tape.  They got our payment immediately, via MasterCard, but wanted four to six weeks to issue a refund cheque.  Yes, we could return the hearing aids….for a restocking charge, something not mentioned in the rush to get our money deposited.  They would return our money, less $150….per ear.  Damn!  That’s $600 dollars total, for the two of us, but it was the straw that broke the camel’s back.  It seemed well worth the money to get away from such an unreliable, unscrupulous bunch of money-grubbers.

We went to the Arnold Hearing Centre in Kitchener.  It’s the business base for four other Arnold Centres in the nearby Southern Ontario area.  From the time we walked in we felt comfortable.  They took the time, and provided information and support that Total Hearing never bothered to.  The hearing test was longer and more involved.  Data taken for our files was more extensive.  The staff was just more personable and helpful, rather than focussed on the sales bottom line.

The model of hearing aid we chose was a little more complex than the bottom of the barrel units foisted on us by Total Hearing.  We wound up shelling out another, extra $600, but the difference is noticeable.  They are slightly smaller and lighter.  They have a wider range of controls, and they come with a business-card sized remote control to direct them.  They’re even smart enough to have a little voice that tells you “battery”, when it’s time to replace them.

Arnolds included, not one, but two, boxes of batteries, for each of us, at no extra cost.  We had bought a box of batteries from Total Hearing, but they would not give a refund for the unused balance.  I asked if Arnolds would take them as an exchange, since they were a different size from the ones in the new units, and they were happy to do so.  In fact, the day we were there, our technician said that he was running a bit short of that particular size and could use them till new stock arrived.

The cost of the unit which plugs into a TV, and broadcasts directly to the ear is $300.  Arnolds was happy that we had decided to use their Centre but felt badly that we had been dinged on the refund at Total, so they included one, at no charge.  We took it home and plugged it in.  The first night we wanted to watch a movie, it was amazing.  Not only is there no straining to make out the dialog, it makes it feel as if you are standing in the middle of the action.  We watch a fair amount of British TV, including Miss Marple and Hercule Poirot.  Perhaps now, with our ears practically in the midst of the action, we will be able to forego the distracting subtitles to clearly catch the British-isms.  The most recent captioner for Poirot obviously doesn’t have the script, and makes mistakes even I can catch, especially when Hercule lapses into a bit of French.

I know that this post is probably uninteresting because it’s such a personal rant.  I just needed it, to vent my frustration at getting pulled in by some fast-talking snake-oil salesmen.  It’s also a cautionary tale for others, to think about any deal, especially one worth four thousand dollars.  After the fact, I can find no on-line review site for either the Total Hearing Centres, or the Arnold Hearing Centres, so I decided to post this to provide my own opinions about their relative merits and demerits.  If I can prevent even one potential Southern Ontario customer from being caught in the mercenary web of Total Hearing, it will have been worth it.

Please forgive my choler.  I will be back in a day or so with something a bit more universally interesting.  At least I hope it will be mildly interesting….I heard that!

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Rapunzel, Rapunzel!

My daughter is a spinster. Yeah, yeah, I know, there’s a lot of single women these days. Well, my daughter is single, but I meant that in the literal sense. Unlike Rapunzel, she can’t spin straw into gold, but she does spin a variety of materials into some very nice artisan yarns and threads.

My son suffered from some psycho-social problems, which meant he didn’t leave home after he graduated from high-school. He didn’t get a job for over ten years. Instead he was our majordomo. He vacuumed and dusted, mowed grass and shovelled snow, helped with laundry, ran errands and did a lot of the cooking while the wife still worked. The daughter had an independent streak and was already out on her own when he failed to launch. Unlike the three of us loners, she has a big list of friends and acquaintances.

She had several jobs, including living on a farm and tending horses. She suffered numerous non-work-related accidents which pretty much ruined both of her knees. After giving birth to her son, at home, in a cleaned and sanitized bathtub, with the assistance of a friend and two mid-wives, she lived on mother’s allowance until the government announced some major changes in social assistance which forced her to work with her doctor to qualify for the disability benefits.

She/we found that the numerous physical shocks like that, can cause fibromyalgia, a neurological affliction which can cause great pain and weakness. Doctors are a little more aware of it now. Back then it took two years to diagnose. First they thought she had chronic fatigue syndrome, yuppie disease. Then they felt she might have Lupus. They all appeared similar, which turned out to be unfortunate, as the treatment she received to deal with what they thought was Lupus, made the fibro worse for her. On her “good” days she only requires one forearm crutch, worse days take two, and bad days have her moving in a power wheelchair, if she can get out of bed at all.

She has become very computer-able because of being stuck inside so much. She has a friend who has a less intense version of the illness, and also spends a lot of time indoors, with four kids. To bleed off the stress, she took instruction in spinning yarn, and then taught my daughter, so that she would have something therapeutic and constructive to pass time with. There is just something so mindlessly calming about spinning, it is meditative to both the spinner and watcher alike, and the results are pretty too.

The daughter is now on her third spinning wheel. She sold number two, added money and bought number three. This one is a double-treadle model so that she can run it with both feet. The friend saved like mad and bought a custom wheel from British Columbia. It has six gears, like a bicycle. Even in second gear, it spews out yarn so fast she can barely keep up. She can’t imagine anyone fast enough to run it in sixth gear. She does fun, interesting stuff, like dying the yarn with Kool-Aid powder; it can produce some bright colours.

The daughter has learned a couple of ways to spin yarn without the wheel, including the use of a drop-spindle [she has 12 of them, 6 of which she made herself]. This is a system for making yarn & types of rope that was used before artisans began to build spinning wheels. Ancient Egyptian hieroglyphs show them using this method.  Evidence has been found in archaeology sites that have dated spinning going back much farther as well.

The daughter spins a variety of material, fibres like wool, mohair [fibre from goat], alpaca, llama, Qiviut, buffalo, yak, camel, cashmere, silk, dog, cat & rabbit furs. Other fibres [either natural or processed] she has spun are cotton, flax, ramie, soy silk, bamboo, viscose, nylon and even milk weed fluff.

Did I say dog? Yes, any long fine fibre can be spun. A client’s poodle-cross was getting older, so she saved several trimmings, and the daughter spun it to yarn. The dog is gone, but the mitts live on. One of her closest friends has a poodle and they have saved his coat like a mini lamb’s fleece and several years’ worth was mixed with wool, spun into yarn and knitted into a lovely shawl. They are still saving his yearly ‘fleece’ in hopes of being able to make another project in the future.

My wife’s niece, who is also our massage therapist/osteopath, used to do a major grooming of her Malamute twice a year and she had saved two years’ worth of the clean fur. The daughter spun it with some lamb’s wool, and the wife knitted her a headband and a pair of mitts out of the yarn. The new Jack Russell terrier chewed a hole in the headband, but the daughter found a small amount of the fibres used in the original yarn, spun up another small batch and the wife dismantled the headband and repaired it.

I can barely play the radio. It’s the wife and daughter who are the creative ones. We tend to do certain things the old-fashioned way, if only to keep the skills in use. The daughter used mid-wives and home-birth for her son. She can spin and weave. She and the wife both knit and both crochet. The wife learned how to tat, which is the hand-production of lace, with tiny knots.

The co-worker who showed her how, was not a good teacher. There are slip-knots which must be rotated, so that they will slide to produce a loop. She didn’t explain this to the wife. We went to visit my parents for a weekend, and the wife was getting frustrated. She knew something was wrong, but not what. I had done a little study of knot theory, so I asked her to describe the problem. I had to go and get an eight-foot, heavy, black, telephone lead cord, so that she could see large-scale, what had to happen in miniature, but the light finally went on. Now when someone asks her who taught her to make lace, she claims I did.

The wife says that, sometimes she feels stupid when the son and I are discussing esoteric subjects like super-string theory, black holes, or just the precise usage of the English language. Both of us though, bask in the reflected glory of both these creative ladies’ abilities.

The daughter blogs as LadyRyl, http://ladyryl.wordpress.com/, and has an on-line catalogue of beautiful, hand crafted yarn, and some items already knitted or crocheted from it. I think it’s easily as pretty and useful as SightsandBytes’ sister’s glass jewellery. Perhaps some of the ladies might wish to have a look at it, and be as impressed with some old-fashioned productivity, as I am. On-line payment and shipping are available.

Better Living With Beer

Dos Equis

No, this will not be a paean of praise for Demon Rum and his little cousins, but, if I don’t let this post run too long, there will be an explanation, down near the bottom, of how I used alcohol to identify the cause of some of my problems.  I’ve never been much of a drinker.  The number of times I’ve been really lit is small but, I noticed that the percentage of assholeitis was significant, so I stopped.  When I worked, I drank six or seven beers every third week.  It took me almost the first year I was retired, to get through a whole case.  The next year I killed an 18-pack my son, the teetotaler, got from his employer.  I still have half of a bottle of mead I got a year ago Christmas.

I have a few mental and physical things that cause me to not achieve what my IQ level says I might.  First, in a cruel twist of genetic fate, I got my Dad’s torso, and my little Mom’s limbs.  I almost never wear long-sleeves, because they hang down over my hands.  My pants have a 36 waist, and a 29 in. inseam.  Try to locate those.  I can find and wear 30 in. because I wear them over knee-high boots.  I worked for a while with a young woman with the opposite problem.  She was a tall girl, five foot eleven, same as me, but where my legs were 29 in., her inseam was 36.  She had seven inches more leg than I did.

I learned my shortcomings and how to deal with them, almost on an unconscious level.  In high school, when the jocks were body-checking each other on the basketball court, I was over in the gymnastics area, practicing box vaults and high-bar moves.  Couldn’t carry luggage for an Olympian, but I found out that being upside-down, six feet above the floor scared the hell out of most of these guys.

When the weather was good and we went outside, and these future civic leaders were butting heads like mountain goats, on the football field, I was over at the pole vault pit, trying to throw myself over a bamboo stick, fourteen feet in the air.  I was the Senior school champion because there was no-one else my age crazy enough to try it.  I got to go to the Regional meet, where I came in fourth.  I wasn’t even good at things I was good at.

One time the coach wanted all of us to at least try, all of the field events, long jump, high jump, and hop-step-and-jump.  I raced down the track, did a little hop, took a short wee step, planted my short, powerful little frog legs, and gave a mighty jump.  The coach almost fainted.  My jump was longer than the jump of the Regional champion.  Now, if he could just get me to stretch out my hop and step, we might have a winner.  I tried, Lord I tried.  Lengthened the hop by a foot, stretched the step by a foot….I could feel it, even in mid-air.  Came down for the jump all off-balance and out of position, and jumped….four feet shorter than I had before.  The coach wanted me to keep trying, but I could see failure.  I could have practiced for a year, and it wouldn’t have happened.  Back to the pole vault.

When I worked at the auto-parts plant, it was a MAD rotation.  A week of midnight shift, a week of afternoons, and a week of days.  There was a road-house bar in the strip-plaza across the street.  It was a tradition, that some of us went over for a beer, or seven, after work, Thursdays at eleven PM.  There was the hard-drinking core who always went, and then there were others who might or might not show up, any given Thursday.  The union president started his evening with two double screwdrivers and then wanted a beer every ten minutes.

I usually went, but never had more than two bottles.  I had a motorcycle to ride home.  I like the occasional dark beer, Newcastle Brown Ale, Heineken Dark, which I have to go to the States for; they don’t sell it in Ontario.  I went over one Thursday night and found my friend with a big mug of something dark.  The bar had started selling Smithwicks Ale, and they served it in a big twenty-ounce frosted mug.  Mmmh, I’ll have me one of them.  The “sorting information from ambient noise” problem set in immediately.  Eight guys at our table, four to a side, two hundred rowdies watching a hockey playoff game on eight screens, half a dozen waitresses, yelling at customers, or the bartender.  I had to keep saying WHAT, to my buddy, right across the table from me.

I made to leave after one mug, but the conversation was good, if I could make it out, so I ordered another.  Just as it arrived, so did another line-mate who had had to run a couple of errands first.  He wanted to know what my friend and I were drinking.  I told him, and he ordered one, to try it.  When it arrived, he took one sip of it, curled his lip, shoved it in front of me and told me to finish it.  Oh good, now I have sixty ounces of beer to drink, the equivalent of five bottles.  I girded my loins and dug in.  Almost to the bottom of the third mug, something wonderful occurred.  Suddenly everything got clear.  I could make out what my friend was saying.  I understood the rest of the people at the table, and the guys over in the corner, and the bartender.  I knew what the score in the hockey game was.

Part of my neurological syndrome is like continuous, low-grade epilepsy.  The neurons in my brain just over-fire all the time.  Sucking back that amount of beer had sedated me to the point that it ran “normal”.  I don’t want to be like Kid Shilleen, the drunken gunfighter in the movie Cat Ballou, so I do the best I can with what I’ve got, without the booze.

Moneypit

It’s the 24th of April in Southern Ontario.  I live as far south as Detroit, and it Snowed today.  Wha’Happun?  Did we not get Mother Nature a nice enough present for Earth Day?

I took the car to the Chevy Dealer last week, to have them Deal with the no-start problem.  As I suspected, the charge was almost $600.  Then the service manager said the traction control/ABS brakes thing was a separate problem that would take almost another $500 to cure.  The cats may have to go on a diet when we start eating their food.  I don’t know whether any one of these fixes has taken care of the fainting speedometer, and I haven’t been locked out of the car recently.  My key would sometimes fail to turn in the lock, but that was just because it is the most-used, and most-worn.  They charged me six bucks and cut me a new one.  The wife traded her seldom-used one to the son.

I found another automotive idiosyncrasy the other day.  We stopped at the pharmacy, on the way home from the wife’s doctor, with a list of prescriptions.  As usual, she wasn’t feeling too energetic, so I went in alone, leaving the keys in the ignition.  Just as I was coming back out, in hobbled the wife.  She had remembered a question or two she wished to put to the pharmacist.  She told me she had pushed the door-lock button, as she got out.  I asked her for my keys.  Oh, were they still in the lock?  She has her purse, does she have her keys?  Yes! At least we aren’t locked out.  I walked over to the car and opened the driver’s door, and turned to look at her.  She was still fumbling to get out the remote on her key-ring.  Apparently, if you leave the keys in the ignition and push the lock button, all the doors lock, except the driver’s.  So there sat the car, with the driver’s door unlocked, keys in the ignition, and no-one watching it.  The only thing missing was a large sign on the roof reading, Steal Me.

The day after I posted about taking the daughter to pick up her hearing assistors at the better hearing clinic, I read a short piece in the local paper that said that two employees from the clinic in the next city, which we used, and one from a branch in a city down the highway, were arrested and charged with fraud.  It is Alleged that they overbilled for goods and services and charged for services not rendered to the Ontario Health Insurance Plan, the Canadian Ministry of Health and the Federal Long-term Assistive Devices Program.  My guess that they were under investigation was correct.  We’ll never get the stolen money back, and now we’ll have to pay more to have them prosecuted, and possibly jailed.

I’m still reading.  They’re still S**tting.  A story in the local paper is headlined, “In pursuit of riches in the asteroid belt.”  It’s about a plan to capture near-Earth asteroids, and mine them for things like platinum, which is really valuable, as well as water for human space-use, and iron, for building structures in space.  It would be relatively easy and inexpensive to do because these hunks of rock are closer than the moon.  They are Not, however, as implied, in the asteroid belt, which is a couple of hundred million miles away.

Quebec, our beloved Francophone province, has a Quebec Office of the French Language, despite the fact that the poutine they speak is almost incomprehensible to people in France.  When they import French-language movies, made in Paris, they have to have subtitles to be understood.  This warehouse of cultural egotism threw a snit-fit last week.  A hospital in Montreal, where 75% speak English, purchased some soiled linen baskets from a supplier in the USA.  The baskets say, ”Soiled linen”.  The petty language police got up on their Frogs-legs to protest mocking their culture and disrespect for Quebec’s linguistic uniqueness.  Dear Quebec; Get over yourselves!  After the Battle of The Plains of Abraham, two hundred years ago, you were offered the options of being a defeated people, or a productive, co-operative part of this great country.  Please choose one and shut up about it.

Over the years, many people have suggested that those receiving social assistance, welfare, unemployment, etc., should be required to perform some sort of service for the community which supports them.  Various provinces and cities have enacted ordinances which prevent this.  For example, the number of hours put in, divided into the amount of money given to an individual, might result in a figure less than the minimum wage law.  We can’t have that.  That might incite someone to actually get a paying job.  Just keep handing the money over with no strings attached.

Some social engineers have come up with a back-door approach which gets around some of these problems.  The Language-Nazi doesn’t have any great objection to a scheme which will reduce the Unnecessary burden on an already strained economy.  I am steamed, however, about what they’ve decided to call it.  When someone is forced to put in work without direct payment, it will be known as Mandatory Volunteerism.  This joins Military Intelligence, and Government Ethics as one of the most linguistically self-contradictory phrases ever invented.

BrainRants would probably tell you that, this is the Army system, just without the stupid name.  “I want three volunteers!  You, you and you!”  My handicapped daughter lives in geared-to-income housing.  She can’t sweep sidewalks or clear drains, but she is the president of the housing complex she lives in, and puts in lots of hours on her computer, making sure that goods and services are obtained, and payments are made.

 

Saturday The Fourteenth

On Saturday, the fourteenth, we got another call from the Money Mill doctors’ clinic.  The wife’s doctor is moving from family practice to Hematology.  She only works as a G. P. on Tuesdays and Thursdays.  She is taking the entire month of April as vacation.  They wanted us to come over on Sunday to see a replacement doctor, the cosmetic surgeon again, as it turned out.  I had already made plans to take the daughter and a friend of hers to the Free Thinkers luncheon on Sunday morning.  I expected to be home about 1 PM.  The wife wanted a phone call when we left.

The last time we had to go to the clinic, they had put up signs saying that you could phone in and put your name on the list and get an approximate serve-time.  That way you could sit at home or get a coffee at Tim Hortons and miss the wait at the clinic.  When you do show up, they give you one of those buzzy, light-flashing flying-saucers you get at The Outback.  We called the wife at one, and she called the clinic, only to find that the phone-ahead was cut off at noon, and all the good times were actually taken by ten.  We got there by two, were almost the last served, just before five.  The diagnosis was that her allergies cause constipation, and the Prescription was for another over-the-counter medication.  She says, if it’s important, they’ll insist that she come in during working hours for a scheduled visit, no more of these three-hour, wasted afternoons, which only cause more inhalant allergies.

The daughter managed to get another hearing test and recommendation, from a different hearing clinic.  Their submission was accepted by ODSP.  I drove her to pick up her new Hearing Assistors today.  The only thing left to do for paper-work is have her doctor sign the prescription sheet, so these nice people can get paid.  See above.  The doctor is on holiday.  The earliest appointment she could get was May 2.  They understand, and say they’ll wait.  Her units are far nicer than the ones the wife and I got.  She gets a business-card sized remote control.  She can turn the volume up and down on each. She can turn either, on or off.  She can switch from front mike, to rear, and with the purchase of an $80 box, she can plug into a stereo or TV, and have it broadcast directly to the units.  Our $2900 units won’t do any of that.  Hers were only $2500.  20/20 hindsight.  If only we’d gone here first.

We have an interesting way of celebrating Friday the Thirteenth, fairly locally.  Some of you may have heard of it.  It started way back in 1981.  As a gag, on a Friday the Thirteenth, 25 local bikers got together, and rode about sixty miles south, to a town on Lake Erie, called Port Dover.  They had a great day and each of them told two friends, and they told two friends, and so on and so on.   The next year there were over a hundred, and after that, it just took off.  It’s like the Canadian equivalent of the Sturgis meet.  Bikers now come from all over to attend.

The town of Port Dover is a little over 6000 population.  This year they had between six and eight thousand bikes.  Some of them had passengers, but the total estimated crowd was between fifty and seventy thousand people.  They close off the road into town, and only bikes get to enter.  Huge crowds of folks show up to mingle and watch.  Cars are parked along roads for miles.  Some farmers make more renting a field or two as parking lots, than they do on crops, the rest of the year.  There can be up to three FTTs a year, but they don’t always happen when the weather’s nice.  Even if they occur in Jan. or Feb., some of the boys still make the run.  Some of them run tricycles, some strap on a sidecar and some of them just fire up the Buick.

The residents of Port Dover have been interviewed over the years.  Aren’t you worried about drugs and drunks and violence?  The answer is always no!  Oh sure, with sixty thousand people in town, something always happens, but not usually from the bikers, who are on their best behavior.  It’s a great financial shot in the arm for the town, and the gawkers often return for a bit of tourism.  In the twenty years I rode a motorcycle, I often thought about taking the ride, but I was cheap and had too strong a work ethic.  It would have been fun, but I just couldn’t see losing a day’s pay.  I had hoped to be able to do it after I retired, but a dumb accident pretty much ruled that out.

What does or does not get printed in the papers can be interesting and amusing.  KayJai lives a thousand miles away, but today I read a story of a guy in her city, who dug up and carted off in his pickup, a tree from the landscaping at a new Canada Post building.  I howled at the line, “with Royal Newfoundland Constabulary in pursuit.”  I can just see the poor tree in the back of the truck.  That must have been like the OJ Simpson, low-speed chase.  She says they don’t hear about the Oktoberfest silliness that happens here, when we get eighty to a hundred thousand visitors.  Something to look forward to, fans.

Socialized Larceny

I mentioned to BrainRants, that one of the drawbacks of socialized medicine is inefficiency.  Most practitioners – doctors, nurses, technicians, are in it for the good of their patients.  Some of them though, and perhaps more of the clerical support, don’t have that commitment.  They know that their job is almost guaranteed by the government, so there is no need for speed or accuracy.  This is one of the reasons for things like long wait times in emergency.  As I mentioned in a previous blog, about having two different clerks take exactly the same information, sometimes the reason for a position disappears, but, the redundant clerk remains, unfireable, sometimes unnoticed.

Another downside of socialized medicine, is the unnecessary and/or excess billing by doctors and clinics.  Higher than necessary and non-valid claims are sent to uncaring, overwhelmed government clerks, too busy to pay close attention, and, in many cases, more interested in Keeping their job, than in Doing their job.

Not that I am suggesting anything illegal or unethical, but, these are just a few of the things I have noticed lately.

I had blood work done for my vision problem.  My doctor’s receptionist called me and told me that I needed to come in to see the doctor about my high cholesterol, which I did.  When the doctor came into the exam room, she didn’t even know why I was there.  The base-line for the tests I took is 5.5.  My result was 5.7, the same as it was a year previous.  I didn’t Need to come in, but it was a billable visit.

My wife had some blood tests run.  The clinic at her doctors’ building is open from 5 till 8 PM, five evenings a week plus Saturday and Sunday.  We got a – I don’t want to say *urgent*, perhaps *strenuous* – call on a Saturday afternoon, from a clerk, who informed her that she had anemia, and should come in to the clinic the next day for a prescription for iron medicine.  We waited three hours for her to be seen by A doctor, not Her doctor, then we took the prescription to our pharmacy and had it filled.  Commonly used to drug bills from $300 to over $1000, I was astounded when the pharmacy clerk wanted $1.79.  It was an over-the-counter pill that could have waited for her next visit to her doctor to be recommended, but, that was a billable, urgent-care visit.  The doctor who wrote the unnecessary prescription is a cosmetic surgeon.

It seems a good idea to ascertain the cause of anemia.  It could be an ulcer, or other internal bleeding.  The wife had an appointment booked with her doctor about an ongoing sore throat and cough.  While she was in, she asked about the anemia.  Her doctor checked the results.  Like my case, the base-line is 130, and her result was 127, barely below the warning line.  The results did show that she produces red cells of different sizes, an unusual occurrence, not necessarily dangerous, but definitely worth investigating.  The other doctor didn’t mention a thing about that.

The wife and I both recently got two/each hearing assistors.  We were told that they were $2000/pr.  My retirement benefits would pay a thousand for each of us and the government gets stuck with the balance.  When the wife went to file the paid invoice, she noticed that each $2000 bill, was actually over $2900.  Besides the charges for hearing aids, the government got billed for the hearing tests.  There were $450 dispensing fees.  There is a 30 day check-up, and a 90 day check-up, and then yearly  follow-up visits.  I’d like to think that, at least some of that is included in the $450, but I’ll bet not.  There were even $85 ear-mould charges.  I don’t remember any ear-moulds being taken, especially since these things have a soft ring on the inner end, like a ski-pole bottom.

My daughter was also tested and prescribed hearing assistors at the same time.  Three at one blow, sounds like the little tailor, killing flies, for Mother Goose.  She is disabled, and all her medical bills go through the Ontario Disability Services Plan.  Because of this, we were led to believe that her units would be somewhat less expensive than ours.  After several weeks of not hearing (Oh, funny!  That’s why we went in.) about her units, she called her case-worker.  Perhaps thinking that this was just another, typical government agency, they had recommended a $5000 pair.  She’s tried the wife’s units.  They work just fine.  We don’t need a Porsche, and the ODSP will only pay for a Ford.  I don’t blame them.

I think this hearing company is now under watch, if not investigation.  The daughter now has to go to another hearing clinic and be retested and resubmit.  ODSP will accept no further submissions from this company.  This means that the daughter’s chances are less than they were, and, even if her next request is honored, there will be bureaucratic delay.

Not every crook is a Bernie Madoff.  Many just keep chipping away, small scale.  Many never get caught.  The egotistic greed is disappointing.  Instead of this money buying a cottage or a bass-boat, it could be used to actually help someone who really needs it.

I See That I Can Hear

Just when I thought that I had my medical problems pretty much under control, I got blindsided.  The wife is the youngest of nine children.  The five oldest, each in turn, have had to get hearing aids as they hit the 60/65-year-old range.  Some genetic weakness apparently.  The oldest warned her twenty years ago that her time would come.  The one sister, with the husband who ran his own small specialty plastering business, and who had more money than any two or three of the rest, cheaped out and only got a hearing aid for one ear.  She was born during the depression, but that was a long time ago….Really?  Another sister denied a 40% hearing loss until the audiologist put his hand in front of his mouth and asked what he was saying.  She had unconsciously learned to lip-read to make up for the slow loss.

The wife’s doctor moved from an office two blocks from my disabled daughter, where she could quickly and easily get there in her powered wheelchair, and a mere five minutes down the street from our home.  She moved to the far side of the neighboring city.  Fortunately, highway access is nearby, but it still takes twenty minutes, and now I have to drive the daughter, who used to have a small degree of independence.  The doctor moved in with four other doctors in what is described as a limited clinic.  I think the correct pronunciation is MONEY MILL.

If you just walk in, the first doctor who has an opening will see you.  If you want to see your specific doctor, you make an appointment, and with a set-up like that, appointments can be two to three weeks.  The group of doctors owns an entire one-floor building.  Their offices and examining rooms are at one end.  They have leased space to a captive pharmacy at the other end, and in the middle, is where the real money is made.  They employ a staff who provide massage therapy, osteopathy, physiotherapy.  They do cardiac echograms, and they have a hearing testing booth with hearing assist diagnosis and suggestion.  You can almost hear the cash registers ringing as you walk in.  It’s like a licence to print money.

Once upon a time, manufacturing companies made a product, from the sale of which, they derived a profit.  Now, companies make money.  Banks used to take your cash and lend it out at a profit, from which they paid a portion to you as interest.  Now, banks make money, and you even have to pay them for the privilege of getting your own money back.  Doctors used to heal sick people.  Now doctors make money.  If someone happens to get better in the process, it’s co-incidental.

The wife finally decided to book an appointment to have her hearing tested.  Since the big Costco store is on the edge of town as we come back, we picked up the daughter, so that we could do some shopping on the way home.  The daughter is probably subject to the same genetic hearing problem as the wife.  Her turn would normally come in about twenty years but, about eight years ago, she had a terrible double-ear infection.  They gave her Cipro, you know, the stuff that stops anthrax.  Normally it’s a five-day dosage.  She was so bad that she got ten.  As the wife left to get her test, the daughter commented that she wished she could have her hearing checked also.  The wife popped into the exam room for a few seconds and then came out and waved the daughter down the hall.  Apparently they had some free time in the schedule.  Because of the infection, the wife and daughter’s results were almost identical.

The wife remained with the tech and the daughter came back to the waiting room to give me the results.  I was happy that they now had quantifiable results and said; at least I didn’t have to go through this, when the wife stuck her head out of the door and crooked her finger at me.  Sure enough, there was enough time for me to get tested too.  I worked in a reasonably noisy plant the last twenty years.  The government mandated that the company had to have us checked each year.  I knew that I had a slight loss, but agreed with the tester, who put it down as much to normal aging, as plant noise.

Within twenty minutes I was being fitted for new electronic hearing aids, excuse me, Hearing Assistors!  They were cheap at $2000/pair.  Apparently the government will pay for half, and they had already checked to ensure that my retirement benefits would cover the balance.  KaChing!  How can you say no, to something free.

These things are somewhat like a Bluetooth.  They hang over and behind each ear.  They don’t fill the ear like (especially the old) hearing aids, a tiny tube runs into the ear with a soft rubber ring on the end, something like a ski-pole bottom.  The normal sounds go through the openings and this programmable unit just adds the ranges that you are missing.

A man is convinced that his wife is going deaf.  To prove it, from the living room he asks, “What’s for supper?”  No answer, so he moves to the hall and repeats the question.  Still no answer.  He’s more convinced than ever and moves into the kitchen and asks once more, “What’s for supper?”  His wife turns around and says, “For the third time, stew!”

My wife’s hearing loss is in the mid-range, where my normal voice is.  My hearing loss is in the upper range, where her voice is.  We weren’t ignoring each other; we just couldn’t hear each other.  There goes my excuse for not doing some of the things she asks.  I can hardly wait to see what my next technological improvement will be, a motorized walker perhaps.  Maybe I can get John Erickson to help me mount a .50 cal. to deal with handicapped parking spot violators.