Tuesday, March 25, 2008

Hearing aid disappointment

My husband tried out another hearing aid. (He went through this process a little over a year ago.) Yesterday he returned it to Beltone.  It just didn't help enough to pay over $7,000 for it. 

The good news is that his hearing is the same as it was two years ago. The bad news is that he cannot hear "S" at all, and on word lists he misunderstands a third of the words.  We tested him with and without the hearing aids, and the results were the same. 

It's possible that the aids helped a little in a crowded restaurant, where background noise is a problem. But the difference was too tiny to quantify.

For some word lists - see the tables in the appendix here and read this.

Sunday, March 16, 2008

What's in that coffee?

I like coffee but it doesn't like me. I switched to decaf some 15 years ago on the advice of my doctor. Unfortunately, some brands of decaf make me ill and I can't determine exactly why. Two likely culprits are:
  1. Some chemical used in the process that removes caffeine.
  2. Some other chemical added to the coffee.
I am okay with organic decaf and probably some other kinds. Generally I stay away from flavored coffees because they cause me extreme chest pain. I once wound up in the emergency room thinking I had a heart attack after drinking flavored coffee at a social event!

Most flavored coffees contain propylene glycol, a "non-toxic" antifreeze. I suspect I am sensitive to this chemical. But avoiding flavored coffee is not enough. Lately some of the supposedly unflavored coffees have been giving me sharp pain in my abdomen, and it lasts for hours. Now I'm afraid to enjoy a cup of decaf in a restaurant because I have no way of knowing what's in it. I stopped drinking McDonalds decaf years ago because it gave me chest pain, but the ingredient list on their website shows only coffee. (I don't use the creamer, which lists a lot of chemicals.)

Unfortunately, propylene glycol is considered a safe additive and is not always listed on cans of coffee, as far as I can tell. So for now I am sticking to organic decaf, even though it is expensive.

Saturday, March 8, 2008

Virtual colonoscopies approved by ACS

Medical groups are finally endorsing the virtual colonoscopy and no doubt insurance companies will start covering it. Too late for my medical claim - Blue Cross turned it down and then turned it down again when I appealed.

I still think it was a good decision to go the virtual route. I am sensitive to some medications so not having anesthesia is a big relief for me. However, the virtual colonoscopy is not painless. They pump air up your butt, and the pressure is painful!

Ten years ago I had a traditional colonoscopy. Like many people, I woke up while it was going on. Unfortunately, the doctor was trying to force the tube around a bend in my intestine and it wouldn't go and that hurt a LOT! So either way, a colonoscopy can be painful. Not as painful as cancer though.