Recently, I’ve been having a bit of a brain-training holiday. I felt like I just wanted to spend some time enjoying life with my new implant; doing things I’ve not been able to do for some time, enjoying new sounds and going to noisy places.
It’s interesting talking to other people with implants about their experiences. A man I met recently had had his for four years. Listening to music had been very important for him before his hearing deteriorated so he had spent lots of time post-implant on music-listening practice. As a result, he said he really enjoyed it – most types, from classical to more popular stuff. He’d practiced hard and was enjoying the results. On the other hand, he still struggled to hear in noisy situations, whereas I’m already very happy with my brain’s ability to filter speech from noise. Continue reading
On Tuesday I attended a music workshop at the Cochlear Implant Centre; yet another part of their excellent rehabilitation programme. Four recently-implanted-people, plus some relatives, spent a couple of hours with the two Speech and Language Therapists, Jill and Lynne, listening to various pieces of music and talking about what we might do to help the brain make sense of it all. Continue reading
Curlews first. A couple of weeks ago the guys from Med-El were back with us for another filming session, the last for several months; they are returning later this year for a “one year later” session and then we’re done. Nigel and I were sitting on the settee, talking about how things were going, three months after switch-on, when the subject of curlews came up. I don’t think that particular clip will get into the final version because Nigel said “have you heard curlews yet?” and I said “no, not yet”, which is not very thrilling for a film. But now I have.
This morning at 8.30 it was ferociously misty when Izzy and I set off for the moorland above our house. The higher we got the denser it became. So dense, in fact, that I missed one turning on the moor and we blundered off in quite the wrong direction for a while. And then I heard curlew, loud and clear. Continue reading
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.
The 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
The thing that worried me most about going on holiday with a cochlear implant was airport security screening. I was confident that my improved hearing would stand me in much better stead on the holiday itself, but what if I didn’t HAVE a functioning implant because something had gone wrong at an airport?
Would it set off the security alarms? Could it be damaged by the security screening? Should I switch it off on the plane? Too much browsing of the internet had unearthed a series of horror stories, including tales of problems at our departure airport (Manchester). Someone wrote about having a big argument with the screening staff at Manchester, resulting in security guards being called. Help! I just want to go on holiday, not have a run-in with officialdom. Continue reading
Listening to the radio was nowhere near the top of the list of things I hoped to be able to do post-implant. I’d not been able to make any sense of the radio for years, but I didn’t really miss it much. Some things you just put to one side, and forget.
But listening to short bursts of the radio was one of the first homework tasks I was set by the Speech and Language Therapists at the Implant Centre, so I decided to always have the radio on in the car, even if I couldn’t understand what was being said. The theory is that even speech you can’t decipher is useful practice for the brain. I discovered, much to my surprise, that I could almost immediately make some sense of news broadcasts (enough to follow the main themes if not every word) even over road noise.
A few weeks ago I was walking back to my car in Skipton, after attending a lecture on an aspect of local history. It was dark. It was raining. I was wrapped up in fleece and raincoat. And I’m telling you this because it’s a little scene burned in my memory. Suddenly I thought “this is who I am”. Not the fleece and raincoat particularly (although you more often than not need those in North Yorkshire) but because of that startling and stunning sense that I was recovering the Vera I am used to being, who had been so distressingly missing in 2017.
On holiday in October, with a group of people I didn’t know, I had tried to explain a couple of times how I was feeling. I’d said I felt like holding up a placard saying “this is not who I am” because the tearful, quiet, uncommunicative person they were seeing didn’t feel like me at all. I wanted to tell them it WASN’T me. I wanted to tell them what I was REALLY like. Continue reading