Thursday, October 9, 2014

Starkey Mission to China, 2014 - Day 3

Kunming, China
Patients fitted: ~609

Today we had a leisurely start at 9:30 am and got right down to business fitting hearing

David, Jessie and I were partners again, and we rigged up one of the aprons to hold
the tools higher up so I didn't have to bend down on account of my back issues. It still
was not feeling the greatest and seemed to be on the ragged edge all day. Indeed it "went
out" just after lunch break, but did seem to peak in the afternoon then get slightly better
around 5 pm. We worked a little later today as a few stragglers came in under the wire.

David, Jessie and I work really well together. We had a bit of a problem case where we
were fitting a young boy that could not communicate and clearly had issues other than
hearing. Things got confusing when Tani came over as Jessie, the mother, and Tani
were all trying to communicate with the boy, but with Tani's help we were able to get
some positive reactions and fit him with aids at a much lower power than we had initially
determined. Her experience was invaluable in this particular case.

We had a couple other notable cases today. We had on older man whose one ear
was completely dead, who would not take no for an answer, even returning later and
demanding a hearing aid. Unfortunately there was nothing we could do for him.

I also had a young girl with deformed ears as my last patient of the day and while I could
fit the hearing aids, I could not get them to hook onto her ears as she had no pinna. In the end, she was waiting for Bill to look at her in the hopes of getting a headband or other attachment to help.

We again had a couple of really thankful patients who were rather stoic until both hearing
aids started working, then they became very animated and thankful. The older ladies
are the best. They are definitely the most picky, but once you get it dialed in, they are
quite happy and thankful.

The always entertaining dynamic duo: Britta and Ros.

There was one particular woman who was diagnosed the same in both ears, but one ear had very mild loss and the other one was profound requiring the highest power hearing aid. These cases really make you second guess what you are doing, but again, when you dial it in and it all makes sense the patient's face lights up and they are so happy. I imagine the sound quality they are ultimately hearing is quite bad, but they likely haven't heard anything on the one side of their head for years. It must be quite an experience for them to hear something after being essentially deaf in one ear for so
long. Today's fittings showed us that the hearing tests that were done before the patient
arrives really can't be trusted. You really need to start from scratch assuming nothing.

Also, the translators are key in a situation like this, and we have an awesome translator in
Jessie. I had some great conversations with her today as we both stayed late and I learned
that she is a Kunming native and just finished high school. She thought about studying in
Canada but decided to go to the USA instead as Canada is too cold for her. She wants to
be an industrial designer or in airline management. She actually is very skilled at flying
model airplanes and helicopters and won a state-wide gold medal. She said her father is
even better than she is! Very cool! And she is such a nice young lady, and so patient with
the patients. It is an absolute pleasure working with her.

Tonight we are on our own for dinner, and then I'll likely load up on back pills and head
to bed early again.

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