My Journey to my First Cochlear Implant beginning May 2017 to May 2018
Hello Lipreading friends,
I thought that you might be interested to know that after some years of dithering I have decided to seek advice on whether I might be suitable for a cochlear implant.
I had thought that my hearing was getting worse and last December went to see one of the GPs at my surgery. I asked him to refer me to the local hospital but to date I had heard nothing.
One of my lipreading group had her implant in February and is two weeks into her rehabilitation programme. Already the difference it has made to her life is amazing. I am stunned by her success and inspired too, to seek help myself. I know many people who have had a cochlear implant, and all have benefitted to some extent, but my Friend has been in a league of her own. So, fingers crossed.
On Monday 15th May I’m meeting with a consultant to discuss the possibility of a cochlear implant. I am feeling nervous and excited all at the same time. Here’s hoping!
Monday 15th May 2017 1st Consultation
Met with the consultant, a most charming man. We discussed my hearing, together with my health issues. He was very sympathetic and understanding. I had a hearing test. I also have tinnitus which makes it difficult to know if you are really hearing the high frequency sounds, but I did my best. Following the test, the consultant explained the results and told me that I had no hearing in my right ear and that both my ears meet the criteria for an NHS cochlear implant. This was necessary for insurance too. This was interesting, as for some months I had felt that my hearing in my right ear was fluctuating. I had originally wanted to wait until August because I have so many events to attend I didn’t want to have no hearing in one ear whilst I was doing this BUT as the consultant said I have no hearing in my right ear anyway so I won’t be any worse off. I decided to go for the tests as quickly as possible. I am excited, nervous and cautiously optimistic all at the same time. I am hoping that my insurance will pay for the treatment.
Tuesday 16h May 2017
Told my lipreading group about my experiences and compared notes with my friend. All very supportive. My husband too has said I must have the cochlear implant even if insurance won‘t cover it. He rang the insurance company but was told they needed a letter from my GP so that they could issue an authorisation number. I texted my surgery as I had requested a letter in December.
Friday 26th May 2017
I saw my doctor re a letter requesting assessment for cochlear – one had been dictated in December but had gone no further. This doctor said she would write a letter which I could collect in a few days. I received an appointment for my MRI scan for Monday 5th June!!!
Friday 2nd June 2017
I collected my letter and sent the original to the consultant with a copy for my insurance company.
Over the weekend I emailed all letters and appointments to my insurance company together with an email requesting that they cover this treatment and supply me with an authorisation number.
Monday 5th June 2017
I attended hospital for my MRI scan. The MRI enables the consultant to see what is happening in your inner ears. If you have anything metal, it must be removed and then you answer a battery of questions to make sure you are able to go ahead with the scan. It is a strange experience but not unpleasant. I had to lie with my head inside a big tunnel. There was a window a bit like a kaleidoscope so I could still see the nurse when she was there and there was a picture of a beautiful clear sky to focus on. I wore ear plugs and headphones to protect my ears from the noise. The procedure took 10 mins. Throughout this time I was conscious of a pulsating noise very faintly present and also occasionally a whooshing. In the absence of any other noise my tinnitus became very loud! The procedure completed; I was on my way home.
Tuesday 6th June 2017
Told my lipreading group about the MRI scan and again received tremendous support. My friend wondered if I would like to meet with her and her language tutor so that I knew what to expect if I am able to have the implant. We agreed to make a date.
Now have three more appointment dates!
One on Monday 12th June for a hearing test and speech assessment; one for another consultation with the consultant and one for a counselling session with a lady I knew from way back in the 1980’s when I first lost my hearing. Life is funny sometimes.
Bad news from the insurance – they will not cover the cochlear implants. Why are we paying all this money?! We will appeal but must be prepared to fund it ourselves.
Tomorrow is my speech assessment. This is crucial as a cochlear implant is only considered if it will give you better hearing than you already have! I confess I am nervous about this. How will I do? It’s strange to be wanting my hearing test results to be bad. Well what will be will be. I will know tomorrow, possibly.
Monday 12th June 2017 Speech assessment!
With not a little apprehension I went for my speech assessment with an audiologist who was like no one I had ever met before! She was very patient and kind but also very professional and knowledgeable. I had my hearing test which was different to those I normally have. I had to press the control button when I heard a sound and keep pressing it until the sound stopped. This confirmed an earlier assessment that I had very little hearing in my right ear and not that much in my left ear. She then tested my hearing aids. She inserted a small wire into my ear and put my hearing aid in as well. I didn’t have to do anything the machine checked that my hearing aids were set up correctly, which they were, and then measured how much they could help me. Despite my hearing aids I was still failing to hear because of insufficient hearing.
She told me that I would definitely benefit from a cochlear implant in both ears. I wasn’t sure how I felt at this time. In fact, she said the implant would transform my life! OH, if that could be true.
Then I had the speech discrimination test. For this I had to sit in front of a large loudspeaker box and say what I could hear. NO LIPREADING!!!! This was quite difficult. I wasn’t sure if what I thought I was hearing was correct. For instance, I wasn’t sure if I heard clown or crown, but I thought I had heard “funny face” in the sentence so I decided it was “the clown had a funny face”. I have no idea if I was right! Listening with my right ear was very difficult.
At the end the consultant told me that it was remarkable how I deduced what I had heard but she didn’t say if I was right or wrong! She also told me that I had 10% conversational hearing in my left ear and 1% conversational hearing in my right ear. I knew my hearing was poor, but I hadn’t realised it was as low as that. I was very emotional for a moment and burst into tears. It didn’t last long but I was bit subdued for a while. It is one thing to know you have poor hearing but when you find out exactly what you can or can’t hear it does make you wonder how you manage. LIPREADING mainly!!!
She said she would recommend that I go forward for the implant programme.
I spent some time reflecting upon this information and found the few people I have told about it very supportive.
June 14th 2017 No time to be pessimistic!!
I had another appointment with my consultant surgeon. He tested my balance. Some of the tests were weird. First, I had to stand still, close my eyes and put my hands together as though in prayer. I had to stay like that for about 2 minutes. I could feel myself swaying sometimes. Next, I had to walk in pigeon toes towards the consultant. I haven’t done this since I was a child at school. We used to pick our teams using this. I couldn’t do it with my shoes on so tried without shoes. Not too bad!!
Last one. I had to face forward towards the consultant, close my eyes and march and clap at the same time, again for about 2minutes. I felt that I was doing really well with this. When I opened my eyes, I had turned towards my left. It was so weird!
The last test involved lying down and having cold water put into first my right ear and then my left. The consultant explained that he would be watching my eyes. They would be moving from side to side. He said I might feel as if the room was spinning but it wouldn’t last very long. I had no sensation of my eyes moving whilst I lay there and it wasn’t so bad. This was repeated for my left ear.
Afterwards the consultant told me that in my left ear the balance was quite good and in my right ear I had some damage to my balance, but it was still OK.
My right ear had the least hearing and balance, so this is the one to receive the cochlear implant. He would recommend me to have this and my husband and I agreed we would like me to go ahead with it as soon as possible.
Friday 16th June Last lap!
I had a counselling session. The lady who came to see me was someone I knew from way back in the 1980’s when I first lost my hearing. She Helped me to learn to recognise what I was hearing then, and she will be doing this again when I have had my implant. She also explained to me what the cochlear implant consisted of, what it looked like and where the various pieces would go. She had to tell me that there were risks but that they were slight. Once the implant is inserted there is a 4 to 6-week period where you don’t have any hearing in the implant ear. This is to give the implant and your head a chance to settle before the cochlear is switched on. Once the implant is switched on the hard work begins. You have to learn to recognise what you hear and to understand that you are hearing sounds that you probably haven’t heard for years. Quite a daunting thought. It is likely that you might find everything too noisy at first. Your implant is retuned to give you the maximum benefit but to enable you to hear comfortably. It can be tweaked later. After the explanations came another test. This was a word recognition test. It was very difficult and I couldn’t even make a guess at many of the words. She said we would do the test again when I have had my implant and compare the results? Food for thought! So, all tests completed and now to wait for a date.
My insurance has repeated that they will not pay for this implant as my hearing loss is a chronic illness and as such is not covered under my plan!
Well if that’s the case I will just have to pay for it. This means so much to me – to be able to hear friends and family, especially my young grandchildren, would be so wonderful. We all have to make choices and I have always chosen to buy my hearing aids rather than a new car or other things. What will be the next event????
Wednesday 21st June 2017 Visited my GP
Visited my GP as I have had a sore throat and would like to get rid of it before my vaccination. Gargles and mouth wash prescribed. Some of this could be caused by my inhalers.
Thursday 29th June Meningitis vaccination
Meningitis vaccination. This is to prevent you getting meningitis during the operation, which is classed as major surgery.
Well it is done – I’ve had my vaccination so am now ready for anything.
Date of operation 3rd July 2017
Today I received the date for my cochlear implant. Sadly, it is on the last day of a big family weekend in Scotland. However, I will be there for most of the party and then travel home on Sunday ready for my implant operation on 24th July. I feel excited and nervous all at the same time.!!!
There are still things to do. My implants must be paid for and as I take warfarin, I will need to stop taking it for some days before the op.
6th July 2017 London Conference "Let's Listen"
I sponsored an event in London called “Let's Listen”. At this event I met several people who had had cochlear implants, some of whom had been with the same surgeon that I will have! They all said what a difference it had made to their lives so fingers crossed it will be like that for me! I also met a university lecturer who had two implants herself and who told me that my website was being used to help rehabilitate those who had cochlear implants. How wonderful? Altogether it was a very special day.
17 July 2017 Pre-op assessment
Today I went to the Hospital for my pre-op assessment. It was very thorough including all past operations. Apart from my arrhythmia being quite rapid again (probably nerves) and the difficulty in extracting blood from me for a blood test, all went well.
I have had a hoarse voice now for weeks and was worried that this might stop me from having the operation so after leaving the hospital I went again to see my GP.
This time the GP said that it was probably my asthma inhaler that was causing the throat and advised me to have another one that can be used with a spacer. I stopped taking my inhaler. let's hope this works!! I have to see the practice nurse to be shown how to use the new inhaler. I have an appointment for Wednesday morning.
19th July 2017 New inhaler
I have not used my inhaler since Monday and already my voice is getting stronger. Today I saw the nurse who showed me how to use the new inhaler. The inhaler goes into a spacer and you have to push the inhaler to release the puff and then to breathe in slowly from the other end of the spacer. If you breathe in too quickly you will hear a noise a bit like a harmonica playing. I didn’t expect to be able to hear this, but I have heard it twice. It has a deep resonance. Fingers crossed all will be well for Monday. I now have a weekend of the family gathering in Scotland and then will fly home on Sunday ready to go the hospital on Monday morning.
23rd July 2017 Home and ready
Flew home today. Am worried that my voice is still not strong enough but hoping for the best. Have a few things to check then off to the hospital at 6.20 in the morning. Fingers crossed.
24th July 2017 Today’s the day
Today’s the day. Didn’t sleep much last night but am ready to go.
Arrived at the hospital very early as there was very little traffic at this time of the morning.
Checked into my room and sorted medication for the anesthetist to see. My surgeon came in to see me – I will be going down at about 10.30. Quite a long wait. I had to take some of my tablets and then settled down to wait. As I was so tired, I fell asleep and soon it was time to go. Once in the theatre I was given my injections and remember nothing until I woke up. It was about 11.10 when I went off and about 3pm when I woke up.
Back in my room and felt OK. My surgeon came in to check that all was well. Really went well and I felt good with no side effects. I have a huge bandage on my head and look a bit like Pudsey! I have an overnight stay and then home tomorrow.
I was hungry and my omelet tasted wonderful. My husband arrived about 8.30p.m. having driven back from Scotland. We had a brief chat then he went home for some well-earned rest.
I was asked if there was anything I needed and had a cup of tea, then some sleep.
Although I have no pain, I have taken paracetamol just in case.
25th July 2017 All's well
During the night the nurse visited several times, but I was very tired and unusually for me slept well.
Had a cup of tea about 6.30am
After breakfast, my consultant came again to check and said that everything had gone very well indeed. He was as pleased as I was at how well everything had gone. He removed my bandage. Apparently, there is no dressing just some stitches that will disappear on their own. All was well so I could go home. A few more hospital procedures to go through then home.
I left the hospital about 1pm for home.
Apart from a funny feeling on the right side of my head I feel good. NO Pain. My hair is very frizzy, but I can live with that. Will leave it as long as possible before washing it. My wound needs to be kept dry.
29th July 2017 The first few days
The last few days have gone quite quickly – I am fine but am trying to take things slowly. Lots of messages from family and friends and visitors too. It has been an eventful week!
Although I am only hearing through my left ear I am managing quite well. It is a bit difficult when there are more than three people, but I am still coping. Sometimes the voices sound a bit tinny and are difficult to interpret but on the whole, I feel I’m doing well.
Amazingly it is 5 days since the operation – how time flies!! My head has stopped feeling tight and pins and needles in my outer ear are going. Occasionally there is the beginning of a slight headache, but it doesn't materialise. I have been very lucky and had no pain at all.
Since my aunt died last October, I have been grinding my teeth - terrible!! I am really trying very hard to break this habit now! It's very odd, sometimes I don't even realise that I'm doing it. Today has been good with very little teeth grinding. I must work hard at it - having the wound behind my ear does actually help me to be more aware of this. It must stop!!
On Wednesday I drove my car - very carefully - no problems! Life is getting back to normal.
29th August 2017 I can hear!!
I woke and realised that today was the day that I have been waiting for, for what seemed like ages but in reality, it was only a few weeks. Today I would be switched on. I was excited and nervous all at the same time.
My husband came with me and we arrived at the hospital in good time for my appointment. Everyone was very friendly and reassuring.
When my cochlear is switched on I will be working with my tutor to learn to recognise what I am hearing. She came out to tell us what was happening now and what would happen later. At last the time came for us to join her, together with my consultant and the specialist who would tune my cochlear implant.
All the parts of my processor were shown to me and then I put them on. The receiver over my ear and the coil attached to my head. Then the specialist began to tune the cochlear. At first I thought that it hadn’t worked as I couldn’t distinguish any sounds, then after more tuning by the technology expert I began to hear noises – I can only describe it as a cat’s whiskers radio that many people made after the 2nd World War. My uncle made one and there were lots of squeaks and whistles. It took a little longer for me to suddenly realise that the sounds were beginning to sound like speech in the distance and then to my delight to sound like my tutor speaking. I could hear her speaking! It was and still is very tinny!! The sound was modified to give me volume and comfort. That was enough for now! Grateful that it had gone well and aware how different the world now sounds I was full of mixed emotions. We said our good byes and laden with all the component parts in large bags, my husband and I set off for home.
Home! and already being asked how it went. The switch on went well although there is a long way to go! I can’t hear speech very well yet – everything sounds like its tinny and men and women sound the same. They sound as if they have a speech impediment. I sound very strange too.
I managed to hear Jamie (3 years old) say the name of two of his friends when my son popped in. – Freddie and Madeleine (I HOPE).
I have lived in a very quiet world for many years, although I thought it was noisy. I have now discovered, the world is a much noisier place! I can hear cutlery scraping on the plates; the paper wrappings rustling; keys jangling and every little tap or bang sounds like thunder!! I can even hear the tap running so no more floods hopefully. I can hear the keys as I type on my computer!! I can even hear noises behind my back. How Amazing is that?
This evening I was very tired and fell asleep and when I woke up, I couldn’t hear a sound!! I THOUGHT EVERYTHING HAD GONE WRONG and then I remembered that the specialist had said the battery was only 40% charged - It had run out. What a wally!
I put the batteries on to charge and the processor in its pot to dry and so to bed. Tomorrow will be my first training day - tired but very happy!!!!
Wednesday 30th August First training session today
When I put my processor on, I was so aware of how many different and varied noises I could hear. The stairs squeaking and my shoes squeaking as well. I could hear the kettle boiling and the beeping of timers on the kitchen gadgets. Incredible - I have always had to rely on a vibrating timer that jumps all over the work surface up until today!!
Today was my first auditory training day. First, we went over all the different pieces of equipment that are needed, then some paperwork. Then to work. First, we went over days of the week. It is amazing how at first it seems impossible and then gradually it begins to fall into place. I am still not totally competent but getting there. The same with months of the year. First, we looked at single words then they were put into sentences. No peaking just listen!!! My Tutor is very good and patient. She makes sure that you will succeed but it's astonishing how tiring it is trying to make sense of what you hear. Hearing is very strange at the moment. I'm trying to use just the implant and words do not always make sense. It went well - It was very tiring. I'm doing very well really but oh so tired!!
Had conversations with my husband during the day with some success. I tried to watch the television and could make out some of the words without using the subtitles.
My nightly routine of charging batteries and drying the processor done - off to bed.
31st August 2017 Day 2 Thursday
I awoke to a silent world and then put on my processor. Once again, the noises of the everyday life continue to astonish me. I am fascinated by the kettle boiling and the noise of the extractor fan in the shower room. I tried out a new floor cleaner and it was so quiet I thought it wasn't working. I expected to hear more from it now!
My tutor arrived and after a brief chat we set to work. First, we looked at some colour words. It was strange how difficult it was to identify them from the sounds. Black and white sounded very similar to me. We also used left and right. I have often found it quite difficult when wearing my hearing aids to be sure I heard left and right correctly whilst using my SAT NAV. After some concentrated work I got there but I'm not sure how well I will do tomorrow.
We then went on to some high frequency sounds. I haven't heard these for over thirty years!
The first sound was "s". This was tricky when at the beginning of the word but a little easier when used at the end or in the middle of the word. Some of the words were put into sentences. I didn't do too badly.
Next, we looked at "ck" - again it was somewhat easier at the end of the word. Some of the sentences were mystifying but with help I got there. Again, the proof will be can I recognise them again tomorrow? You wouldn't believe how difficult it is to make sense of the sounds heard even when you know what you are working on.
Have a session tomorrow, retuning on Saturday, another session on Sunday then nothing till the end of September. I'm away next week and then my tutor is away for two weeks. I'm so tired after the session that I sleep nearly all afternoon and then again in the evening. I even sleep at night! Can you believe it?
I did feel that I was able to hear better when in conversation so that was a plus, although of course I was using my lipreading too!
Soon it was time to go home. Again, I was tired, but I did manage to go out to deliver a letter and to watch more TV. I felt that, particularly the men in the programme, I could hear better today.
Usual routine and time for bed!
1st September 2017 Day 3 training
Again, a silent world transforms into a very noisy one by putting on my processor!
More training with anecdotes and laughter. What a joy to hear even if I have to concentrate so hard!!
After two hours I am absolutely shattered although we have breaks and chats and a laugh.
In the afternoon my son came round and we spent two hours chatting - it was great! I haven’t been able to do that since he was 12 - he is in his 40's now!!
Usual routine for the evening.
Retune my processor 2nd September 2017
I am hearing more ordinary sounds now. I dropped my keys and could hear that I had done this. In the past I have lost my keys because I didn't realise that I had dropped them.
Again, used the SAT NAV well.
Lots of adjustment and testing to see if it is was clearer - if the sounds were at the same volume.
I had thought I was doing very well and making progress with my hearing but after the adjustment I have to learn to recognise the variation in the sounds again.
Although it is difficult people don't sound so much as if they have a speech impediment. I think I was not hearing some of the sounds before.
Off to Practise.
3rd September 2017 Day 4 Training
Today we looked at f and v. These were very challenging.
I found this very difficult but again practice makes ........... better!
We also looked at numbers. It was so amazing how similar some of the numbers sound. We are all different, so other people will not have the same experience as me but I found it quite difficult to distinguish between two and ten and again I couldn’t hear the "ee" in three.
After this I had to either repeat a question I was asked, or if I preferred, to give the answer. Surprisingly I did quite well at this.
Today I was not quite so tired and managed to do some ironing.
This was my last session for three weeks because both my tutor and I are away until the end of September.
I will need to listen carefully when I am with friends. I have been wearing my processor on its own since the 29th August. I use my hearing aid only when I have taken my processor off for the day. It has been quite a week, but I feel quite pleased with myself and grateful to my tutor.
10th September 2017 A few days away with friends
From 4th to 8th September I was away with friends. It was quite difficult hearing wise because I had just had a retune and was not familiar with the sounds that I was hearing. On Monday it was quite amazing because before we left, I heard doves cooing!; my neighbour opposite sawing in his back garden; the alert beeping of a lorry reversing in the high street; and my mobile alert.
Later I found I could hear the road noises in the car, but I could still hear John speaking some of the time.
Voices again sound tinny and it’s difficult to distinguish between some male and female voices.
In a larger group situation, it was tiring because I had to follow more than one person BUT they were no longer speaking slowly for me and I managed to follow quite a lot of what was being said. I used my hearing aid this week as well as my cochlear processor and although this helped with speech it also amplified all the other sounds.
I got into a bit of trouble when we went out to dinner. I heard my friend say do you want to sit inside or ********- because he has a beard and moustache lipreading is not so easy so I logically thought he was asking me if I wanted to sit inside or outside. I kept repeating outside and the waitress looked at me rather quizzically (It was raining). Eventually my friend guided me up the stairs to a quieter part of the restaurant and I realised that he had been saying upstairs!!! I had a few practice sessions on that one. The waitresses spoke very carefully to me after that - I think that they thought I had learning difficulties.
Several times now I have heard heaven but in fact it is heavy!! Must watch out for that.
However, I think that I did very well all in all.
Now I am home, and I have two weeks before my tutor is back so must practise on my own.
On Saturday my 10-year-old granddaughter came round and I managed to have a conversation with her quite well. Am only using my cochlear processor now. After doing the shopping I was very tired possibly because of all the noises.
27th September 2017 Exciting life
Impossibly it is two weeks since I was able to update my blog. I have been very busy but also have had a few computer problems which hopefully are all resolved now.
I have visited many restaurants and coped reasonably well. This Monday I was in a very modern restaurant - the food was beautiful, but the noise was unbelievable, and I couldn't hear very well there. Sunday, I went to an airshow and that too was very loud, but it was a terrific show!
I have had some incredible experiences. After visiting my grandchildren, I was walking back to my car and I heard a bang. I turned round and my son and grandchildren were all standing at the window, waving. They had knocked on the window and I had heard it!! I can now have a conversation with the children because I can hear them, and I found that I could recognise the nursery rhymes they were singing. How wonderful?
I can recognise musical instruments and hear the music with some differentiation, but I haven't yet recognised the piece being played.
It is great to be able to take part in conversations in large groups. It is very tiring as a lot of concentration is needed but the rewards are great too.
I find that I can now hear the gadgets beeping and it is a mixed blessing! I was home alone one evening when the alarm system went off; complete with alarm blaring and strobe lights flashing. I managed to turn that off and reset it. So, panic over, I carried on with what I was doing. Next, I could hear a continuous beeping. What could it be? None of the gadgets' alarms were flashing. I went into the back garden and then out of the front door to see if the noise was coming from outside. It wasn't! So, I went all through the downstairs rooms and it was definitely in the house and seemed louder by the stairs. I went upstairs noticing the stairs creaking and the beeping noise getting louder. At last I found it!! It was my alarm clock going off - noise from the alarm; vibrating on the clock and on the under-pillow piece, plus all lights flashing - it made me laugh. I was still rather anxious though, with all this happening and I found I heard so many unexplained noises. In the end I checked through every room in the house to make sure windows and doors were shut. Exhausted from all this excitement I relaxed in front of the Television. I still use the subtitles as the speech from the television is quite difficult for me.
As my tutor has been away, I have been using my website videos to practise recognition of sounds and following the prose just by listening. It has been very useful.
I am still finding high voices tinny and rather distorted, but I can generally manage quite well. I look forward to the next steps.
2nd October 2017 Back to training
On Tuesday evening, after I had taught lipreading all day I went to a family dinner. There were twelve of us, but I managed quite well. On Wednesday we went to a reception held at the new Army Museum in Chelsea. It looks very interesting. There were quite a few people there and it was very noisy as it had a musical group too! However, I managed reasonably well.
Thursday, I had three important meetings - I did OK but by the third meeting I was struggling to keep awake!
On Friday we went to the Guild Hall for the election of the Lord Mayor. It is a very colourful ceremony full of tradition. The procession is so long as over a hundred people take part in it and they are all wearing traditional gowns and regalia! After that we went out for lunch and again despite there being over fifty people, I was able to take part in the conversations (but it was very tiring). In the evening we went out to dinner with family and again with just four of us it was great. So different to pub dinners in the past. I could join in!
Saturday and Sunday, I had two hours each day training and spent a lot of time asleep afterwards. The work is challenging, and the concentration required is immense but oh so worth it.
Another session this afternoon. I wonder what todays task will be?
8th October2017 More training
This week we have continued work with vowel sounds. I find this quite challenging to discriminate between some of the sounds. Sentences are beginning to make much more sense. I heard my husband whistling in the kitchen when I was in the dining room! Also, I can hear the telephone ringing and very faintly hear someone speaking through it.
On Tuesday and Wednesday, we had functions in London. Wednesday was a dinner with at least 40 people and Wednesday was a lunch with a 140 people. I managed quite well on Tuesday, but Wednesday was quite challenging.
Thursday and Friday, we were back to sound work with questions and a story to follow.
Yesterday I had my processor retuned. This was good because I had been experiencing peculiar feelings in my head when I heard loud ss/ch etc. sounds. This has now gone. I was shown how to use the telephone and could hear so well! Amazing. Also, I can use a loop system or personal amplifier if I need to. It was a good session. I’m so grateful to the people I’m working with.
Another 2-hour session today and then out to dinner with friends. Fingers crossed.
10th October 2017 Experiencing new situations
Dinner with our friends was interesting but quite challenging. There were eight of us and I didn’t know them very well, so the concentration was intense. Nevertheless, it was worth it. They were really nice and interesting people and John and I enjoyed their company and some wonderful food. When it was time to go home, I was tired but elated that I had been able to join in the conversation much better than at previous dinner parties.
Yesterday it was back to training and it is getting more difficult and demanding. Then on to see my grandchildren and I still cannot get over how wonderful it is to be able to talk to them and to understand what they are saying. They now have so much to tell me.
Today I had a meeting of a hearing charity and I was able to hear very well, both through the loop system and when talking to people against the background noise. Amazing!!
Also, I realised that I can recognise background noises now. the swishing of curtains being drawn; my husband whistling in another room; our older cat meowing, which is very faint! the doorbell; all sorts of things I haven't heard for years.
23rd October 2017 More training
The last two weeks have been filled with evermore challenging work with my tutor. I am no longer allowed to see any of the words/sentences that we are practicing – everything is though audio sound recognition and it is very challenging. Each session we have about 10-15 minutes with me listening to/answering questions or in conversation on the telephone. This is very challenging too. BUT I have had the confidence to make two doctor’s appointments myself!! Usually I have asked my husband to make them for me. I have answered the telephone a couple of times too. My tutor also reads a piece of prose to me from a distance away from me and I repeat back to her what I have heard. This is very demanding but very useful.
Over the last two weeks I have been to several events as well. At a local hard of hearing meeting I was able to hear very well through the loop system and to enjoy a conversation against a background noise.
I went to an awards ceremony in London and could hear everything very well during the proceedings and managed to have a conversation during dinner in a rather noisy environment. Not easy but I managed with help from the people around me whom I hadn’t met before.
I spent a weekend away with a large group on a trip to Cambridge and Ely and was so pleased to find that I could manage; again, especially pleased to be able to manage around the dining tables. before going, I was not sure how I would manage this weekend, but I had a great time, had some interesting conversations and met some very interesting and nice people.
Arrived back yesterday lunchtime and lots to be done at home. Later relaxing in front of the TV I realised that although I was not concentrating on it, I could hear some of the conversation from the TV. Wonderful!!
Today more training and we move on to revision of the long vowels which I do find challenging then on to telephone work and finally listening to my tutor from a distance whilst trying to cut out background music. This was hard, but I managed eventually. Very tired now!!
30th October 2017 Another week's work and a military weekend
This week I have been training very hard with my tutor all week we have been going over sounds that still find very difficult to recognise – d t v and several of the long vowels and short vowels. This micro discrimination is vital to distinguish e.g. date & Tate or mog, mag, meg, mig & mug. I also still have some confusion with m/n and r/v. On the whole, though, I’m doing quite well.
I went to a memorial service in St Paul’s and then in St Martins in London on Saturday I could hear very well in both churches. We then went for dinner in a large hall and there were nearly a hundred of us plus there was a military style band playing very lively music!!!! I was amazed that I could still hear a conversation with the people sitting next to me. It was so thrilling!
Some very challenging work this week with telephone practice and listening against a background of music and people talking. I was worn out after it!
One small problem - my glasses have made my ear sore, near to my cochlear implant processor, I have been keeping a watchful eye on it today.
I have two weeks with no training sessions. Today I had so much energy all day. I shall make the most of it.
6th November 2017 Everyday Life
This week my tutor has been away so I have tried to listen to the radio and to listen to talking books. It is very challenging, no lipreading, but I am beginning to get some of what is said.
I have found that I have much more energy now I am not spending 2 hours a day in listening practice. This week was quite quiet. I went to my exercise class and could hear what the instructor said plus I could hear that there was music playing, I also went to a leaving party which was held in a large pub. There were about 15 of us and we spent some time in the bar before going to a private room for the meal. I managed really well. I find I am no longer dreading going to these large functions.
A few weeks ago I wrote a letter, to one of the local newspapers, in support of the Action on Hearing Loss “quieter restaurants” campaign. This week it had been printed and two people are going to write in support of my letter. One is hard of hearing and one is hearing! Great.
Well apart from becoming used to a noisy world nothing much to report this week. I am going to try to use the telephone more. At the moment I am only using it to make myself appointments. Next stop a social chat!!
4th December 2017 More progress made but a different experience for my friend
Once again everything is amazing, and I am finding that I’m hearing better all the time. One spin off from the work I am doing with my tutor for my cochlear is that I can hear better with my hearing aid now. Given that I only have 10%conversational hearing in my left ear I should be struggling but for many conversations I find I am managing much better, with just my hearing aid, than I could before. I found this out by accident. I had washed my hair so could not put my cochlear processor on. I was using just my hearing aid and when my hair was dry I went shopping. As I was finishing my shopping I realised I had not put my processor on and that I had been hearing people quite well just using my hearing aid. I was astonished! The only thing I can think of is that my brain is better at recognising what it hears!
I find it so fantastic to be able to hear so much better with my processor and it really has changed my life. I no longer dread going to the large events that I have to attend. It is still challenging but I am contributing much more and no longer feel so left out! I used to feel so miserable, sometimes sitting at the table for three hours and hardly speaking at all.
We have had many visitors and some fairly large dinner parties at home, and I have coped quite well. It is different at home because one can always get up and do something (looking busy). At home I can hear the banter and sometimes the ending of jokes! And generally, feel much, more included – no longer isolated. My friends comment on how different I am and look.
I’m so grateful for my good fortune but must tell you about another friend of mine who had her cochlear implant over a year ago. It is as well to be aware of potential problems.
She has given me permission to tell you about her experience.
On 2nd October she went for her yearly assessment and additional programme and speech therapy. She thought that it was the best one that she had had as the lady cochlear audiologist that she saw was herself deaf and wearing 2 hearing aids. She thought it was fantastic to be able to say things about her experiences of having a hearing loss and the audiologist understood. A new programme was added to my friend’s mini mike so when she goes to e.g. cafes/restaurants she can set it to cut out all background noise. The audiologist also gave her other tips on using her iPad which she couldn’t wait to try. The only downside was....my friend has been having burning sensation, not as bad as it was a few months ago though.
On checking the processor site, the audiologist found the skin on her scalp has now gone very, very thin...she said magnet was toooooo strong, she put a weaker magnet on (my friend just had to make sure it didn’t come off). Her husband was shown the problem and he was asked to keep an eye on it. She had been waking with severe headaches every morning where she’d been sleeping lying on the magnet site.
9th October She hoped I was having more luck with my Cochlear than she was. She told me again that she had had her yearly assessment etc on Monday. She said the Cochlear site was burning and the magnet had been changed for weaker one….. but It wouldn’t stay on her head and it was still burning. She emailed the hospital on Sunday, and they wanted a nurse to see her ASAP. She was unable to go immediately so went the next day. Her Cochlear was still burning.
16th October Last week she had an emergency appointment and had an injection in head...it didn’t work so she had another appointment on the 17th.
18th October She said her Cochlear was driving her mad and she had another emergency appointment yesterday. The consultant that she saw called in the consultant that did her op. He decided to do two local anesthetic injections into the bone just behind ear as he said he thought it could be a nerve that needed settling....very painful and it doesn’t seem to have worked - it’s burning!
Following the injection, after a while it did seem slightly better, although every so often it itched more than burned. She was going to see how it went.
29th November My friend is much better now and tells me that there is a Cochlear site on Facebook which is very good. She says “People discuss problems etc. I found that the burning I had been experiencing was not uncommon. I still get this sensation but now wear the magnet over my hair which acts as a little buffer but doesn’t stop it completely. Trouble is my hair has gone so thin now. It was suggested to put a bit a felt between the two magnets but I’m sure it wouldn’t stay in place.
Noise etc....I do tend to use mini mike when …… (in noisy places) and I go out to eat etc, but I can’t pin it on my husband’s t shirt, as suggested, as his chin causes interference!! I try using the ‘cafe’ setting to block out background noise but don’t find it very effective.”
I’m so relieved that she seems to be overcoming this problem and would urge anyone who has a cochlear implant to seek advice if they are worried about anything. It is always better to be safe than sorry.
Over the last 20 years I have known many people who have had cochlear implants, and this is the first I have ever heard of the burning sensation. My friend and I did not have the same make of cochlear implant or go to the same hospital but I don't think that this would make a lot of difference to our experiences.
Everyone is different – I can’t believe how lucky I have been and what a difference it has made to my life already!
6th December 2017 An amazing experience!
Wow, I’m so amazed and pleased with myself!!! Yesterday I went to a large lunch event with over a 100 people at the reception and meal. I was really nervous on the journey to London as I was not sure if I was going to be able to cope. I was not sitting near my husband at this event, so I would not have his support in the event of my not hearing. I managed OK at the reception but was with friends, who were wonderfully supportive. Then came the dinner. I knew the person on my right quite well but obviously couldn’t expect him to give me his undivided attention. I had to work hard and concentrate, especially when listening to people on my left (my cochlear is on the right side). BUT I was delighted to find that I could hear reasonably well, and I was able to take part in conversations in all directions and mostly was able to follow the change in direction of the conversations. This was the first time I have felt that I have played an inclusive part in a large event! It goes without saying that I was incredibly tired and slept for most of the journey home and during the evening, but I cannot tell you how exhilarated I felt after this experience.
This evening I have another large event and I’m hoping that I will do as well as I did yesterday - fingers crossed.
7th December 2017Pride goes before a fall
Having done so well Tuesday, I was hoping it would be the same at last night’s big event. Unfortunately, although I coped very well in the reception area when we went into dinner I really struggled. I think the difference was that there was no carpet to deaden some of the background noise. Also, everybody that I needed to speak to was either in front of me or on my left. My cochlear implant is on the right! However, it was an interesting evening and I was with my husband who was able to keep me up to date. I wish that I could have heard better though. We very privileged to be sitting with a father and his daughter who were survivors of the Grenfell Tower fire! He had knocked on all the doors of his floor and everyone was able to get out because of his action. His young daughter was equally inspirational, taking her exams the day after the fire and getting amazingly high marks. It was an honour to meet them and they received a standing ovation. I do hope life is good to them in the future, they both deserve it!!
Well for me it is back to the drawing board. I have my last retune this Saturday and must use all my experiences to ensure that I ask for the right tuning. I feel that I need more base frequency to give me a more balanced overall sound. I must also make time to practice listening against a very noisy background. I have a few more sessions with my tutor and then unless I ask for some more practice I will be “signed off”.
I cannot tell you what an amazing difference it has made to my life even though I had a bit of setback last night (It was difficult for everyone). I feel that I smile a lot more. I feel that I can initiate a conversation and that with my improved hearing and my lipreading skills I will be able to take an active part. We are out again tonight – only to a local pub/restaurant. There will seven of us, which is for a large group for me AND there will be background noise. Wait and see.
You may be interested to know that recently the MP’s debated hearing loss issues. It is great to see deaf issues being discussed in Parliament, where MPs were debating Access to Work, legal recognition of BSL as a language and the implementation of a national plan on hearing loss. I wrote to my MP about this today and hope that at last hearing loss will receive some positive attention. Will keep you posted about these events in a new blog if there is anything to report.
Let’s see what today brings.
24th December 2017 Bringing you up to date
I’m sorry I’ve not been able to post a blog for over a week – I have had no internet connection.
I managed quite well with a group of 7 at the local pub. Relief!!
I received an email from my MP. She had taken the trouble to speak to the minister, but his response was very standard, about all people with disabilities being able to work. A bit disappointing to be honest. Hearing is not just about access to work but about quality of life too! I’ll keep trying.
On Saturday 9th I had my final retune. This was fine tuning to try to make what I am hearing even more recognisable. Great! In my last few sessions with my tutor I have been practising following a conversation against a background of not just one dvd playing, but two! This has been very demanding, but I have managed.
On Sunday 10th I put the television on, I suppose in the early evening, and Fern Britten was interviewing Barbara Dixon who went on to sing “In the Bleak Midwinter”. I was moved to tears because I could really hear the tune and the words. It was wonderful.
On Monday I had a noisy Christmas lunch with an exercise group that I go to. We were not the only group in the room and although it was noisy I could talk to people on both sides of me. Hooray!
On 15th December we travelled to York and attended a reception of about 200 people in the Merchant Adventurers’ Hall. It was a large Mediaeval building with wooden floors and very high ceilings. I could manage at the drinks reception but what would the dinner be like? It was fine and although noisy again I could manage. Following the dinner, we walked to the Minster for a carol concert with readings. To my delight I could hear the carols – not just the melodies but the words too and I could hear the readings. It has been a long time since I experienced this!
Nothing much to report over the last few days except that we had some very good friends to dinner, and it was just like old times because I really was a part of the group.
One of my sons with his wife and youngest son (nearly 4) came to dinner with us on Friday and also my daughter and her husband. We had a lovely time and I was able to sing and dance with my grandson to the accompaniment of some musical toys that he took delight in switching on. What fun!! I'm not sure that I was singing in tune - maybe more practice needed!
I suppose one of the most extraordinary things is I can now hear on the telephone and have conquered my fear (to some extent) of answering the telephone. It is still challenging but again I have manged. I have had five conversations - chatting on the telephone. I don't use any special personal amplifer, I put the telephone on to the speaker setting and I can hear reasonably well. I still have some trouble hearing everything that ladies say but, again, with help from them I can manage. So far, I have had three conversations with ladies and each time I thought at first I was talking to my daughter! Only one of them was my daughter - so I do need to check who I am talking to first!!! I have to keep pinching myself that I really am achieving all this. I feel so lucky that everything has gone so well for me – so far!
This afternoon we visited our granddaughter and her partner in her new house. This was lovely. Her future in-laws were there, and we had a long chat together and NOT ONCE did I mention that I had a hearing loss!!! This is another first.
I have no more regular sessions with my tutor booked so I will be practising for real every day. For any of you who have had cochlear implants recently I would say PRACTISE! PRACTISE! PRACTISE! It really is worth the effort.
Finally, may I wish all of you a Very Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year. May 2018 bring you happiness, good health and good fortune and improved hearing. HAPPY CHRISTMAS
3rd January 2018 Happy New Year
Hello, I hope that you had a really good Christmas and New Year.
We had fun over the Christmas period and for me it was a wonderful experience to join in the silly games and to actually hear most of the jokes and the general banter that I so often missed in the past! One of the groups was very large and I still managed well. It was a very happy time!!
I didn’t do so well over New Year but will work to overcome this blip. I realise that just as with lipreading, there are optimum circumstances needed for me to hear well. I still need a well-lit room -to combine lipreading with hearing; I like to be sitting near people, ideally at a table so it is easy to hear and see everyone. When we are spread around a large room I don’t function so well. Tiredness makes it more difficult to concentrate and so to hear well. As time goes on, I will develop strategies to deal with this but at the moment I’m still finding my feet. I also realise, that in a large group, I can hear people on my right-hand side much more easily than on my left. I need to consider whether I should have a second cochlear implant. I going to talk to people who have two implants to gain from their experiences. It’s a big decision!
Today I have been practising listening to a DVD – no lipreading. It is quite difficult. I also need to practise, if possible, listening and trying to make sense of what I hear when people are laughing as they speak. I'm sure this will be very challenging.
I have some events coming up that will test how well I’m doing. We are going to London for a social event on Friday. I think it will be in a pub, so I will need to concentrate. Then we have visitors over the weekend. Then it is back to work with my lipreading support groups. Time seems to go so quickly.
Well I will wish you all very a Happy New Year with Good health, Happiness, Prosperity and improved Hearing.
22nd January 2018 Ups and downs
On 5th January I went to London with a group of friends, about sixteen of us. My heart sank when I saw where we were going for lunch. It was a huge Italian restaurant with no soft furnishings or anything to absorb the noise. My last excursion to somewhere like this was very unsuccessful, so I wasn’t very hopeful that I would be able to cope. Imagine my surprise and joy to find that I managed well and could have conversations with other people on the table despite it being a very noisy environment. I was so pleased!! My confidence just got better.
I have had a big panic though. On Saturday, about lunchtime, I went shopping and as I was in the lift going down from the carpark someone spoke to me. I realised that I couldn’t hear very well. I checked my head and was horrified to find I had no cochlear processor there!! I only had a very few items so did my shopping quickly and began to retrace my steps. I was very fearful. What if I’d lost it? No sign of it anywhere. Then I began to think back to the morning, and I couldn’t remember putting it on. Maybe it was at home. Fingers crossed. I arrived home and rushed to the kitchen. Sure, enough it was safely in its overnight container. I washed my hair in the morning so hadn’t put it on. What a relief.
The rest of the week has passed quite uneventfully.
Tomorrow I am off to a convention in Las Vegas and I am hoping that I manage well.
28th February 2018 Trip to the USA
During my trip to the USA I was still suffering from a bad cough and had to have another course of ANTIBIOTICS. Eventually I felt a bit better.
Las Vegas was very busy and noisy making it very difficult to hear but it was good to catch up with old friends in the Optical industry. We spent two whole days there and went out to dinner which was almost like mission impossible for me to hear, because the volume of noise was overwhelming. On the Friday we spent the day travelling to Tennessee to visit an old college friend of mine. She has been very ill, so we were only paying her a flying visit.
We arrived on Friday evening and had a long leisurely supper and catch up chat before going to bed quite early. I managed to hear my friend's soft voice quite well, but I was having trouble hearing my husband.
On Saturday after breakfast we went for a drive around the countryside and visited a replica of Fort Loudoun which was built when the British were fighting the French. over the territory, in 1756/57. It was at the edge of a lake and very peaceful now. Again, I could hear my friend but not my husband. After our visit we set off to see the ranch where my friend had lived many years ago when she first arrived in America. It was beautiful but in the middle of nowhere. The house was set in 26 acres of farmland. No neighbours!
After our tour we all had a rest, then went out to dinner with my friend’s son and his wife. We went to a local restaurant and we sat in a small alcove, which meant that it was much more comfortable for me to hear the conversation. All too soon it was time to leave and on Sunday we spent the day travelling home and arrived at Heathrow in the early hours of Monday morning.
1st March 2018 Catch up part two
This was a fairly quiet time with just the usual activities, but I had been having some difficulty hearing with clarity which was very disappointing. Because of this I asked to have one 2hr session a week with my tutor. We have been going over sounds that I found difficult and I have been listening to her against the background of two DVDs playing at opposite ends of the room. Very Challenging!!
On 9th Feb we went out to dinner with two friends and I managed reasonably well and again on the 10th we went out to dinner and I managed reasonably well. It was a large restaurant and there were five of us.
From Feb 12th to February 15th we had our niece and her two children, together, with one of our granddaughters staying with us. It was noisy but fun. On Tuesday, my husband and his great nephew went to an air museum for the day and I took the girls to a pottery café. They had a lovely time and the results were delightful! Then we were joined by more of the family for supper and the following day we went to see the London show “42nd Street”. Wow! What a spectacular show! The costumes and stage sets were dazzling, and everyone really enjoyed it. I didn’t find the loop system very helpful and I couldn’t hear clearly what was going on. But it was still very enjoyable. The meal in the restaurant was challenging but again I managed. On Thursday everyone went home, and it was a quick tidy ready for our next visitors. Only two and only for one night – no problems.
I met up with a lady, who has two cochlear implants, to discuss the benefits of having two with her. I must make up my mind soon!!! It was interesting to hear that she had had some burning but that this was quickly put right. My friend who had had a lot of trouble with burning seems to be OK now.
The following week was quite busy but on Friday we went away for the weekend with my daughter and her husband. I think I managed really well considering we were in restaurants a lot of the time.
Together my tutor and I have tried to analyse what it is that needs adjusting. I don’t seem to hear low frequencies so well and I certainly do not hear my husband’s deep voice nearly as well as I did before.
This Saturday, weather permitting, I am having a retune to see if I can get it right.
I will need to hear well not only for every day reasons but because I am hoping to take part in DEAF DAY at CITYLIT in April. More details to follow.
4th March 2018 Time for a retune - Will it work?
Yesterday, despite the weather, my tutor and audiologist (IT specialist extraordinaire!) arrived. They were both very confident that soon all would be well. I just had to identify as precisely as possible what I was hearing and what effect it was having on the clarity of speech heard. This is so difficult!! Trying to pinpoint what the speech sounds like to me is very challenging, but it is very important to get this right. With great patience and lots of “tweaking” we finally arrived at a really good sound for me!! His level of expertise is phenomenal. I WANTED TO HUG HIM! Today I am still really happy and can hear my husband again! Domestic bliss resumed!! My husband said, “there is always a downside to everything!”
I am now convinced that I would benefit from having a second implant and am going to discuss this with my tutor tomorrow. If any of you have begun your journey to a cochlear implant, I hope it will be as successful as mine has been.
10th March 2018 Win some - lose some
On Sunday I went to dinner with some friends in a restaurant. There were four of us and we were the only ones there. Our friends were already sitting down when we arrived, and I was asked to sit next to my lady friend. This would have been good except that it meant that my cochlear would have been facing the empty space. I explained that it would be better if I sat in the opposite chair so that my cochlear would be in a good position for hearing and I swapped places with my husband and could hear all round the table!!
On Monday I had a good session with my tutor and decided to go ahead with an implant on my left ear. I wanted to see my consultant to discuss this. I made an appointment over the telephone myself. It was difficult, but I did it! I am gradually regaining my independence. To my astonishment I could see my consultant the next day – Wednesday.
On Wednesday following my exercise class where I can now hear the instructor (Marvellous) I went to the hospital. As you know I think I can hear better with my hearing aid these days, but a hearing test showed that the hearing in my left ear had deteriorated further! I am now waiting for an appointment and everything else needed to set this second implant in motion. I don’t have to have tests because both ears were tested last year and both ears met the criteria for a cochlear implant. Fingers crossed.
Thursday was a relatively quiet day but on Friday I went to an International Women’s Day event. I had already checked to see if there was a loop system and had been told that there was one, so I was very excited. The speakers were amazing women and I couldn’t wait to hear them speak. There was a breakfast beforehand and I was worried that I wouldn't be able to hear other people in the hubbub, BUT I found that I could hold a conversation. Hooray!! Then into the Hall for the speakers. What a disappointment. No matter what I tried I could not hear. I’m pretty sure there was no loop system or if there was, I was sitting in the wrong position for it to work for me. There were TV screens all around the room, so I could see the speakers – not always the whole of their faces – but it was too difficult to lipread from the screens. I could tell how good they were from the other ladies’ reactions and it was a miserable few hours being excluded from the obviously very good speeches. I have put details of this on my feedback form and given my email address so that if it was appropriate, I could be contacted to discuss this further. Wait and see. It was good to take part in the event and I did make some very useful and interesting contacts.
Well this weekend is Mother’s Day so if you’re off out I hope you have a very happy time and a happy hearing weekend.
7th May 2018 Update for last month
Once again, I have had computer problems, also the last few weeks have been very busy.
On the whole I am managing very well although there are still some situations that are difficult. If the acoustics are bad it is difficult to hear accurately BUT it is difficult for everyone not just me!!
I have been to many large group events and I have managed quite well. My husband was awarded the OBE for services to overseas industry and innovation in the contact lens industry. We went to Buckingham Palace last Friday and it was the Queen presenting the awards. It was an amazing day! We spoke to Sir Paul McCartney and to Dame Darcey Bussell. They were both very friendly and were receiving honours themselves. The atmosphere was great and the spectacle with the yeoman of the Guard (beefeaters) and other military personnel was so full of pageantry. It was such a privilege to be there.
Back to earth now. Next Thursday 10th May I have my left cochlear implant. I am so hoping that it will be as successful as my right one. I will start a fresh blog for my journey with this one.
May 14th to 20th is Deaf Awareness Week. Hope all of you are enjoying a very relaxed Bank holiday weekend and the beautiful warm weather.
14th - 20th May 2018 Deaf Awareness Week
Did you know that according to Action on Hearing Loss, 1 in 6 people in the UK have a hearing loss? This figure is expected to rise to 1 in 5 people.
I am one of them. I have had a hearing loss for over 30 years and the impact on my life was very great!
There are varying degrees of deafness. Some deaf people have a hearing loss which can range from mild, moderate, severe to profound whilst people with no hearing are usually known as DEAF (spelt in capital letters). DEAF people may use sign language (BSL) and fingerspelling. I know some DEAF people who are brilliant lipreaders and who hardly ever use signs. Everybody is different.
How can you tell if someone is deaf?
You can’t see a hearing loss which makes it difficult to spot. Sometimes we can be thought of as rude, stuck up or worse, simply because we didn’t hear what was said; especially if the speaker was behind us! You might look for some of these signs to indicate a person who has a hearing loss.
- Our television is very loud, and we may speak with a very loud voice.
- We may frequently ask you to repeat things.
- Sometimes we have a voice that sounds a bit different to normal voices but not always.
- We may use more gestures than people usually do.
- You may even spot our hearing aids or cochlear implants.
- We may not realise there is traffic or people behind us.
What’s it like to be deaf?
Communication/talking in all its forms is very important to all of us in every aspect of life. For those of us with hearing loss, communication in the hearing world is very difficult. Speaking for myself, my hearing loss affected my family and my work. I retired in 1995 because my hearing loss made it too difficult to do my job as I would like to. Retired life was very strange, and I noticed my hearing loss even more because I found it difficult to start a conversation -what was the point when I almost certainly wouldn’t hear their answers? I became quite depressed and felt very isolated. People often find it frustrating and irritating when talking to those of with hearing loss because it is difficult for them and they have to repeat themselves. Going out was not something I looked forward to because I knew I would end up feeling left out and become anxious and miserable. It was a horrible feeling and I wondered how I could overcome this. At first, I wasn’t very good at telling people I had a hearing loss. This made life even more difficult.
What can be done?
First, I joined a lipreading class and this was one of the best things I could do. There is so much to be gained from these classes. Like others, I use my eyes to help me make sense of what I am hearing/lipreading. Also, year by year the hearing aids become more sophisticated and powerful and there are advances in other devices to help – subtitles and loop systems for example. I even began to tell people I was a lipreader.
Last year I noticed my hearing was worse and following tests I had a cochlear implant in my right ear. The difference it has made to my life is incredible. I can hear my grandchildren, the birds; I can follow conversations, amazing! I feel I have a personality again. On 10th May I am having my left cochlear implant and I hope it will be as successful as the first. Other people have different experiences – everybody is different.
Even with lipreading, all the available aids and technology, those of us with hearing loss still need your help!! If you are deaf aware you can help so much!!
What is deaf awareness? It is being sensitive to the needs of others who are deaf or DEAF and aware of how you can help.
You can help to have better communication with relatives, friends, colleagues and customers who have hearing loss.
Here are some communication tips that have been found useful by those of us with hearing loss:
- Find a place with good lighting (to make lipreading easier) and little or no background noise to make conversations easier.
- Soft furnishings, carpets and curtains also help.
- Try to ensure you are facing the light so that we can see your face clearly. If you sit with your back to the light your face will be in darkness making it difficult to lipread
- Sit or stand the same distance that you would for any other conversation.
- Make sure you have our attention before you start speaking.
- Face us (to make lipreading easier), speak clearly and a little slower, using plain language and where possible whole sentences, with normal lip movements and facial expressions.
- Your body language can also help us understand better.
- If it is possible, tell us what you are talking about – if we know this, it makes lipreading easier.
- From time to time, check whether we understand what you're saying and, if not, try saying it in a different way – you could even write it down.
- Please remember it’s uncomfortable for a hearing aid user if you shout - just speak a little louder than you normally do.
- If the person you are talking to is DEAF you could learn fingerspelling or some basic British Sign Language (BSL).
- If you know us well, you could ask us what is best for us.
- Above all please be patient we are trying our best and we really do want to talk to you
If you take the trouble to talk to us, you may find that we have lots of interesting things in common.
If you can only remember four things, then I would like you to remember these if you were talking to me:
- Find a quiet, well-lit place to have your conversation. Soft furnishings, carpets and curtains help.
- Make sure that we can see your face – (we can’t lipread otherwise).
- Please gain our attention before you speak and if possible, tell us what you are talking about. (This helps us to lipread more easily).
- Please remember that it’s uncomfortable for hearing aid wearers if you shout. Speak a little more loudly and slower than normal but with your usual lip movements and facial expressions.
For More information and useful addresses please visit other sections of this website.