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

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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

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

Taking an implant on holiday

38610735 - isometric security checkpoint machineThe 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

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