"You may say that I am a dreamer/But I am not the only one" John Lennon: "Imagine"

"So come brothers and sisters/For the struggle carries on" Billy Bragg: "The Internationale"

Elizannie has a reading room at 'Clarice's Book Page' http://www.villiersroad.blogspot.com/

Thursday, 18 April 2013

Wired for Sound* or Thank you so much Youngest Daughter and the NHS.

I've lived with hearing difficulties all my life - mine and others'. My father had reduced hearing and received a pension due to the fact that a land mine explosion had caused damage to his hearing in one ear, a serious occupational disability in a journalist in the 1950s and 1960s [he died in 1967] My maternal grandmother who lived with my parents was very deaf and although supplied with an NHS hearing aid in the 1970s found it impossible to use as it magnified all sound and she could not 'weed out' what she needed to hear. My mother lost her hearing gradually until she was almost profoundly deaf but refused to acknowledge it. This was frustrating to others to say the least so when my hearing started to deteriorate about 30 years ago I was completely up front about it rather than let others think I was merely ignoring them!

We all deal with problems in different ways. I used to laugh mistakes off but my hearing problems escalated and I found that too often when I had to ask others to repeat things I was getting the dreaded 'Oh it doesn't matter' brush off. Hilarious [to me] misunderstandings in conversations increased like the time I thought Other Half was talking about 'burglars' when he was actually discussing 'burgers' which never the less caused annoyance with others during conversations. I would often laugh along with others rather than ask for a joke to be repeated and if somewhere in a crowd with lots of background noise [in a pub say, or more likely for me on a demo] I knew I would miss more of most conversations than I would hear. I tried to train the grandchildren to only speak to me from in front, a certain amount of lip reading being used I suppose. However there were times that I did get upset [although trying to never show it] when it was assumed that I was being rude or stupid, f'r instance because I didn't move quickly enough/at all when people behind said 'excuse me'. If you can't hear someone you shouldn't be accused of ignoring them. We hearing impaired don't look any different although there were times I felt like sporting an ear trumpet to prove a point!

The lovely author David Lodge has written a novel - based on his own experiences with hearing loss - Deaf Sentence . When I first read it I could identify with so many of the problems Lodge's hero undergoes and which Lodge illustrates - often amusingly - in his narrative. But I also found it heart breaking because it shows how other characters get impatient with the fictional, deaf character, something with which so many of us having the same problems have to contend.

I haven't ignored asking the medical profession for help all these years. And I don't feel badly treated. My problems gradually worsened over more than thirty years. Twenty years ago I was told there was nothing that could be done.  Ten years ago it was suggested to me that really the problems were not that bad and I could possibly be making a fuss about very little, although it wasn't me who was getting impatient with my hearing but those around me!!

And if I really think about it I realise over the last five or six years things worsened. I have had to have the sub titles on the TV all the time. And of course the thing with hearing loss is that one just does not know what one doesn't hear! Its only when talking about conversations held previously that one realises one hasn't heard whole chunks - or has misheard as in the burger/burglar incident above.

Youngest Daughter has been trying to get me to the Hearing Clinic for some time. I honestly thought she would be disappointed because nothing could be done and as I could manage reasonably well I was lucky anyway. But last week saw me sitting in a little booth in the local hospital pressing a button when I heard the 'beep'. and to my complete amazement less than one and a half hours later I was walking back to the car with digital hearing aids in both ears. Hearing sounds unheard for years like traffic noises, birds singing and begging my husband not to shout at me.

I couldn't stop grinning. Cooking dinner at home I kept breaking off to tell my friends on facebook that 'knives and forks are noisy' and 'now that I can hear the vegetables cooking perhaps my cooking will improve' [it didn't] The next day we visited Youngest Daughter and family and I could hear the little noises that her one week old baby was making - hadn't heard them two days before. Suddenly her 23 month old daughter was talking more clearly. My son-in-law said he couldn't get over talking to me in a normal tone of voice, never having known me without having to talk carefully to me!

So many things make noises I didn't know about. I can hear if someone standing behind me says something. My husband keeps telling me in shops when it is my turn to go to the till - he's not used to my being able to hear my name/number being called! Hearing myself sing was a terrible shock, I knew I was dreadful, but that bad?

Of course, I understand I am not completely 'normal' and there will be areas that cannot ever be completely compensated. But thank you so much to my Youngest Daughter for persevering in telling me [and making sure I could hear!] that I should go again to see what had been discovered in the world of audiology therapy and thank you too to the National Health Service who have given me this wonderful gift of two tiny digital hearing aids, which even match the colour of my hair!

A few helpful links:

NHS Choices: Hearing impairment 

Action on Hearing Loss [formerly RNID: Royal National Institute for the Deaf]

Cliff Richard sang  Wired For Sound written by ROBERTSON/TARNEY

The photograph above is of an antique ear trumpet c1850 property of the Science Museum

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