Roger pen: chapter two

Last week’s blog described my success in using a Roger pen to talk with my husband in the car, when he is driving.

We had driven down to Suffolk for a few days and had a lovely time – visiting Aldeburgh (the scene of several wedding anniversary visits when we were first married), going to the RSPB reserve at Minsmere (we were bird watchers before we had a dog) and generally pottering about.  Pottering because the whole reason for this visit was that Nigel had hurt his knee, which had meant the cancellation of a fell walking trip to Wales.  So there was plenty of opportunity to try out the Roger pen.

After driving, the next big test was eating out.  We don’t go out to eat very often, mainly because I love to cook.  When we do it can be a bit of a challenge because how enjoyable the experience is depends on the venue.  We are pub food eaters, in the main, rather than restaurant people and pubs can be noisy places.  Sometimes when the tables are very close together, and there are a lot of people eating, and the noise levels are high, eating out stops being an enjoyable experience and becomes a trial of hearing and lip reading skills.

So off to a local pub on the first night and out came the Roger pen.  The room was fairly noisy and the table quite wide.

(I need to explain about table width.  Normally, if we eat out there will be a bit of a discussion about where I should sit and where other people should sit.  If it’s just Nigel and me I like him either opposite me if the table is fairly narrow, or at 90 degrees if it isn’t – so he is close enough to maximise what I can hear.  The way this room was configured the 90 degree option wasn’t possible).

So – back to the story.  There we sat waiting for the order and out came the Roger pen.  It helped massively.  I tried it on both my two loop settings and fiddled about with the receiver volume, ending up with the loop on the setting that includes general noise and the volume quite high.  It still felt like sitting in a noisy pub but with Nigel’s voice coming through loud and clear.  Amazing.  I can see him, I can lip read, I can hear him through the noise and – I used this expression last week – I could feel myself relax.  The sensation was really noticeable.  It brought home just how much of an effort is normally involved in sitting in a pub having a meal.  It’s b****** hard work this hearing loss business.

If we had a problem it was that I started talking too loudly.  People have told me before that I do this sometimes and I can see why it would happen.  I misjudge the volume of something I don’t hear properly.  Perhaps the situation was exacerbated because the microphone was with Nigel and a fair distance away from me. However, the problem was solved with Nigel surreptitiously making hand flapping signs (down, girl, down) if he thought I was getting too shouty.  Success.  We had a lovely time.

Over the four nights we ate at four different places, using the Roger pen successfully in all of them.

When we came home, the next test was to use the pen with me driving and Nigel the passenger.  This is a much bigger test than when Nigel is driving or when we are eating out because of me not being able to lip read at the same time.  As I said last week, nowadays I tell people that I can’t talk at all when I’m driving.

We got in the car and set off on a quick test trip from the house.  I stopped a couple of times to begin with, to try different settings and make volume adjustments. Then, driving along, I said “OK, I think I’ll just take the road to (the next village)”.  Nigel responded “why don’t you go to (a different village) and then circle round that way”.

I understood him.  I would stop short of saying I heard him but sounds got through and I made sense of them.  There was context (local village names) and guesswork, but I got there.

On we went, with Nigel sporadically saying (brief) things.  Sometimes I worked out what it was he was saying (roughly, not every word), sometimes I couldn’t.  But when I couldn’t I generally got the gist of it the second time.  As I said a moment ago, it wasn’t exactly hearing, I was still doing a lot of figuring out, but the sounds that were getting through were giving me a head start in that process.  Nigel declared it a much improved experience.

One of the comments on last week’s post, from Lizzie, reminded me to point out that the Roger pen can sometimes be paid for as part of the UK’s Access to Work programme (AtW), if it is decided that the person applying needs the help of the pen to function in the workplace.  Now six years retired, I had forgotten all about AtW.  They had funded my first digital hearing aids, years ago, when the NHS decided I needed digital aids but they were too new to be available from the NHS directly.  You can read more about AtW on the Disability Rights Uk  website.  So thank you Lizzie for the reminder.

Someone else has asked how big the Roger pen is.  Here it is.


I’m still testing Roger in other situations.  Next time – “watching the television” and “general chitchat in the house”………..








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