Sunday, 27 July 2014

The cost of being hard of hearing (and a parent!!!)

While on our second camping vacation of the year, no less at the amazing Rathtrevor Beach (Parksville, BC) - it suddenly dawned on me, being hard of hearing is a huge expense in itself! Not just for our parents when growing up (thank you mom and dad!), but even now, as an adult. Parenting often comes with added expenses - a bassinet, a crib, high chair, rocking chair, change table pads, diapers, diapers, diapers, wipes, bottles (if you're formula feeding), soothers, a pack n' play, car seat, stroller, clothes (aren't they the cutest!?), and other paraphernalia that I've failed to list.  Thank God we have a great medical plan.

As you may have noticed in my other blog posts, we've had to equip ourselves with specialized technology to help us 'hear' our baby at night - and I'll provide a quick cost breakdown of all those items (as best as I can... I might forget the odd item here and there). My husband and I are a double whammy - between us, we have two Cochlear Implants (one is a Nucleus 5 (mine), and the other is a Nucleus 6(hubby's)) and one Naida hearing aid. ***Disclaimer: costs for Cochlear Implants are from Cochlear Americas Store - you might get better deals from Union Hearing Aid Centre***

Disposable Batteries
Approx $300 per year (I usually prefer these, especially since we're on the go so often! This year, I was fortunate enough not to have to pay this cost as we scored a full year's worth of batteries from a friend of ours). I go through two batteries every 2-3 days, depending on how much I use it.

Our choice for disposable batteries - a little bit more pricey than the average batteries, but well worth the expense (don't even both with Costco's cheap batteries... there are too many lemons!)
My husband's Naida Hearing aid probably costs an extra $50/year.

Rechargeable Batteries
Nucleus 5 -  $216 per standard battery (lasts about two days). You'd need about two of these (so... about $432 in total). I don't have these because they're just so darn expensive, and I'm not about to haul a recharger with me wherever I go. Space is limited in my diaper bag.

Nucleus 6 - $199 per standard battery (also lasts about two days). My husband has three of these - it came with his 'intro' package, as he received his CI last summer. The charger itself is about $260!
Standard Nucleus 6 Rechargeable Batteries - these are the available colors you get, not the quantity you pay for.
I'd make a note here: the rechargeable batteries don't last FOREVER. That's common sense, after all. Some people really like having the rechargeable batteries because a) it gives them a higher water resistant rating, b)it's environment friendly, c) it's more convenient in your everyday life.

Me, I prefer the disposables because I'm frugal, and if I can score deals like the one we did this year, then that's worth the savings.

Care and Maintenance
For us, we have a fairly large dry and store (in case you don't know what that is, we need something to suck the moisture out of our hearing devices as we sweat during the day...). Fortunately I don't know how much ours costs as it's not exactly new (but it still works), I'd estimate it to be around $100 today for a brand new one.

For travel, we do carry a Zephyr dry and store box. It fits both our CI's in it (but alas, not the hearing aid... we just store that in a Tupperware box). There's two parts to it. The actual dry and store box ($74.95), PLUS a dry brik dessicant ($9.95 each, it only lasts a few months, give or take) that sucks the moisture out.

The Zephyr Dry and Store Box

The total cost per year for the dessicants for us is about $60 (6 briks).

A Sample of the Dry Brik Dessicants

Getting tired yet with all the added costs? The fun doesn't end here...

Microphone Protectors
This is an absolute ESSENTIAL item. It's the one thing that keeps sound sounding wonderful - for instance, I went for nearly a year without changing them and realized that I couldn't hear as well.

Nucleus 5 Microphone protector - $34.00/pack of two (!!!!!!)
Nucleus 6 Microphone protector - $25.00/pack of two (!!!) - I gave it three less exclamation points because there's a $9.00 difference for a product that has NO DIFFERENCE. We promptly emailed Cochlear about this!
It's the little stuff that eats up our money. This one is one of them!

We both are still covered by Cochlear's warranty for our CI's, so not paying for this yet... though in the past I paid on average $800 per year, depending on which feature you go for. The last care service program I went on was with Cochlear, they had a 2 year insurance/warranty protection program where at the end of the 2 year agreement, you'd get a spanking brand new CI Processor. The cost? $6,000. Not bad given that getting a new processor averages at $5,000, not including care service.

Foscam Camera 8910
You already know by now that we use the Foscam 8910 Camera as our baby monitor. We paid about $90 for this. With the TinyCam Monitor App, that's an extra $2.99, and my phone plan is about $65/month (planning to switch to Bell very, very, soon).

Vibrator/Bed Shaker
A decent one (i.e. Sonic Boom) will cost about $20 give or take - but if you can find a cheaper one on Amazon, go for it. You'll always find a use for it (get creative!).

LightOn System
$70, it works really well even after having baby - you can hook it up to your doorbell, alarm system and whatnot. Great investment for the future.

NewTrent Battery Pack Charger
About $78, though when camping it's handy to have an inverter on hand to charge it when the battery life runs out.

Other Accessories for our Cochlear Implants
None. We aren't paying yet for these as we're still covered under warranty. If we weren't covered by warranty, I estimate we'd be shelling out an extra $200/year to get new coils, etc. 
Coil Replacements - $95 each! (Grrr)

Ferry Trips to go to Vancouver for our Cochlear Implant Checkups
Free. Thankfully. 

Because we live more than 50Km away from a designated facility (a.k.a. St. Paul's Hospital) for Cochlear Implant Checkups, we get these Travel Assistant Forms (or Tap Forms as we call them) that allow us to go over to Vancouver for free. If it weren't free, we'd have to shell out close to $180 per trip just for the ferry alone (we need our car, as taking transit around Vancouver is a pain in the butt). I'm not even going to include the cost of gas here because the cost of gas today is well, ridiculously high.
The 1.5 Hour Ferry Ride from Swartz Bay to Tsawwassen is free only when we have Cochlear Implant Checkups! (and we always try to schedule our visits with other family events taking place)

Estimated Total Per Year (this is very, very, conservative and doesn't include other 'hidden' costs)... so this isn't an actual total, as I'm no accountant!

$1700 (give or take)

Yikes. That's all I have to say. I'm just thankful we actually have a Disability Tax Credit to help offset some of these costs.


  1. I was just looking up new mic filters for my daughters Nucleus 6 and WOW! I found this blog while trying to find a cheaper alternative. These prices are crazy!

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