Saga article on cochlear implants

Vera 2Saga magazine (a UK magazine for the over-50s) included a piece in their latest edition about me and my cochlear implant.  I’ve just realised that the article is available online so here’s a link.  I was pleased to get an email from the Cochlear Implant centre a few days after publication, reporting that they had been contacted by a man worried about his wife’s worsening hearing problems and wondering if a CI might be a solution.  They were able to point him in the right direction for an assessment.

Thank you Saga, then, and special thanks to Med-El (the manufacturer of my implant) whose publicity department arranged the article.

NICE rule change on cochlear implants

19754645 - clown faceThe clown with the funny face has gone.  Or almost so.

I’ve been putting off writing this post because the initial announcement from NICE* on changed eligibility criteria for cochlear implants in England and Wales was flagged as confidential, with a publication date of 27 February.  But the National Cochlear Implant Users Association has gone public so if they can, I can.  It’s excellent news.  The new criteria are more generous and many more people should qualify for an implant as a result.

What’s with the clowns?  They were part of the dreaded Bamford-Kowal-Bench (BKB) test and it will go.  No longer will people sit in soundproof rooms and listen to a tape of someone with very clear diction, speaking very loudly, working through a list of sentences and pausing for a lengthy period between each one. Continue reading

Plinkety plink; how do you tell if your ears are working?

Hello signI’ve had a perforated eardrum.  It was the non-implanted side, after a chest infection/cough….sudden sharp pain…..fluid coming out of my ear…..ring 111…..trip to see emergency doctor on a Saturday morning.  It all seems fine now but yes I did panic.  I particularly panicked when I couldn’t hear my hearing aid’s reassuring plinkety-plink-plink sound when I turned it on.  My GP said it might take a few weeks for the eardrum to heal enough to give me my “normal” hearing back in that ear but, just two weeks after it all began, things sound pretty good.  So that’s not the main point of this post.  The point is……what do you say to yourself to check that your ears are working??? Continue reading

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

Music……and a decision

dog listening to musicI last talked about music not long after I had attended the session devoted to it at the Cochlear Implant Centre.  As you might remember, I’d gone along with an open mind but also knowing that music wasn’t that important to me so I probably wasn’t going to be devoting myself to long hours of listening-to-music practice.  What’s happened since?

I was right.  Enthused as I was by the improvement in listening to my favourite Bridget St John CD in the car on the way home from the hospital, attempts at practicing petered out. Continue reading

TV without subtitles?

woman watching TV

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

Curlew, care homes……

85612769 - curlew, on the grass, during the winter, close upCurlews 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

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

Radio days

30146659 - boombox on a white background illustrationListening 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.

Continue reading