Cochlear implant film: episode one

Vera Med-El

Emotional breakfast at the Vera/Nigel house this morning.  The first episode of the film was released at 7am so we watched it over muesli (me) and porridge (him). We’d seen it once before, when we went to Innsbruck, Medel’s HQ, to approve the various chapters; we found it moving then and today was no different, looking back to when life was quite, quite different. Continue reading

Things people don’t understand about hearing loss: number one….NOISE

Boom 2One of the things people don’t understand about hearing loss is noise.  They think people who can’t hear live in a quiet world.  There’s a logic to that and indeed, before the invention of hearing aids, they’d have been right.  Without the things that sit on our ears the world IS a very quiet place.

But with hearing aids……WOAH……

Adjusted to ramp up the sounds of speech a hearing aid will, unfortunately, ramp up everything else within the frequency ranges concerned.  Continue reading

Cochlear implant film – a trailer

Med El imageReaders of this blog with long memories may remember me being asked by staff at the Cochlear Implant Centre at Bradford Royal Infirmary, over a year ago, if I would be willing to be the subject of a film about the implant process.  I said yes and, twelve months ago last week, first met Henrique and Sebastian from Med-El, the company who manufacture my particular type of implant and who had decided to make the film.

There are lots of short films (five minutes or so) available about implants.  I watched several in the run up to the operation and very helpful they were too.  But I’m not aware of any other film following one person’s story right from the beginning (being offered the implant), through to the stay in hospital, then switch-on day, then the various stages in the weeks and months that follow.  I’m really hoping that having something available that shows the whole process will convince more people of the benefits of an implant and, in the UK, possibly even help in the campaign to make the eligibility criteria less strict.

The big news today is that a preview is available.  You can watch it here.  Med-El are releasing the film in various “chapters” at two weekly intervals, starting with “before the operation” on 23 October.  They return to film the last episode (“one year on”) next month.  The plan then is to release the full film (all the chapters!) sometime in early-ish 2019.  I’ll post when the various sections are available, or you can sign up to get them via the Med-El website.

Hope you like it.  HUGE thanks from me to Med-El and especially to Henrique and Sebastian – for the film but also for being there at all the crucial points, making me laugh and buoying me up.

(PS For subtitles click on the subtitles icon (CC) at the bottom of the screen).

 

 

Image copyright: Med-El.  A scene from their quality control laboratory.

Is deafness a disability?

101150247 - disappointed emoticon with hands on face“Yes!” I hear you all shouting.  “Yes, of course it is”.  But sometimes I wonder whether people in the outside world have their doubts, or at least don’t think it’s quite so serious a disability as some others.

I’m not talking here about people in the Deaf community (capital D), who have been deaf since birth or childhood and use British Sign Language.  They would sometimes say that their deafness is not a disability – they just speak a different language and otherwise can do everything a hearing person can.  I can understand and applaud that stance but I don’t share it.  Being an adult onset deaf person feels very different.  Having a sense and then losing it is a different kettle of fish to never having had it at all, which is why I suspect that most of the followers of this blog (those of us who are adult-onset lower-case deaf) have no problems with the term disability.  We’ve lost the ability to do something that we used to be able to do.

Moving on from that issue, though, what sometimes gives me pause for thought is when the outside world seems to have trouble accepting deafness as a disability. Continue reading

And finally on cochlear implants

sunTime to wind up the cochlear implant posts, or at least time to wind up the regular reports on progress.  I’ve just gone past the six month milestone and been effectively discharged (no more appointments with the audiologist for another year, unless something unexpected happens).  Time to move on.

The six month appointment was quite relaxed.  I was happy with the last programme I’d been given, so no changes there.   My hearing thresholds were tested again (the quietest sounds I can hear).  My ability to hear sounds at one of the frequencies is still below the theoretically optimal point.  Research shows that cochlear implant users who can hear sounds quieter than 35 decibels (25 to 35 decibels being the ideal range) tend to do better at speech comprehension, so the audiologist is aiming to boost the signal from the electrodes in the implant until that point is reached for each frequency.  In my case, however, boosting that one frequency any more than it already is results in worse speech comprehension, rather than better, so we mutually decided to let things stay as they were.  I am hearing just fine in so many situations; let’s leave it at that.

Here’s the point I’ve reached, on an audiogram, before and after implant.  Continue reading

A stapedectomy diary: part two

2015-07-09 Tongue in cheek
Hearing dog Elmo enjoying some well-earned time off

Do you remember, back in January, Deb writing a guest post for us, about her stapedectomy operation?  If you missed it you can read it here.  Deb promised us an update on her progress since then and here she is…….

“Well, here I am back again finally, a little longer than the few weeks promised, to conclude my stapedectomy journey. Somehow a whole five months have rushed past. How did that happen?

When I finished my last piece I was 6 weeks post-op and about to start my new job. So what’s happened and how am I feeling now? The last question is very simple to answer – great! And with much improved hearing – though it hasn’t been all plain sailing. Continue reading

Are you a hider or a flaunter?

My prize for the most infuriating newspaper ad about deafness is the one for Hidden Hearing Ltd – “Pensioners stampede for new hearing aid”.  Really?  I don’t think so.  How to patronise retired people in one easy lesson?  Possibly.  Company has no copy writers over the age of thirty?  Quite likely.  Or perhaps it’s just me and I lack a sense of humour.

pensioners stampedeThe point of the advert is to promote one of the tiny, in-the-ear-canal hearing aids that are totally invisible when worn.  They literally fit right down inside your ear, with nothing at all showing in or on the visible bits.  Sadly, they are only suitable for people with the milder levels of hearing loss or I’d have put my name down.  But the debate about the pros and cons of “invisible” hearing aids crops up quite often in the online deaf/hearing loss community, with a lot of people arguing that “invisible” equates to “something to be ashamed of”.  Why should we be ashamed of our hearing loss, they say?

I can see both sides. Continue reading

Selective hearing?

Copyright: tatyanagl / 123RF Stock Photo

I’m not usually at a loss for words but one comment that often leaves me floundering goes something like this.  “Vera, I know YOU are deaf but you haven’t met my uncle John.  He can hear when he wants to, believe me”.  People, often the loveliest people, say it to me surprisingly often.  Just the other day I was chatting to someone in the village, my hearing gets mentioned and then out it pops……. Continue reading

A stapedectomy story

One of the most popular posts on this blog to date was in November 2016 when Deb spoke to us about life with her Hearing Dog Elmo.  Here it is, if you missed it.  Knowing that Deb had recently had a big ear operation of her own I asked her if she would write for us again, and here she is……..

“Vera and I have been running along parallel lines with operations and refer to ourselves as sisters-in-recuperation. A week after she had her cochlear implant, I had a stapedectomy. A what? Continue reading