In late October Nigel and I were on holiday in Ethiopia. It was a group holiday, which isn’t a great idea when you are really struggling with your hearing, but it had been booked and paid for prior to the hearing decline of 2017 described in earlier posts. Overall, we had a fantastic time, but mealtimes were a nightmare. I could talk to one person at a time in a quiet location, but when other people joined the conversation I was lost. Put me round a table with a dozen people chatting to each other and it was utterly hopeless.
I had completely underestimated how exciting it would be to hear things that are NOT speech. As my hearing gradually got worse over the years many environmental sounds disappeared, but losing them didn’t make me feel particularly sad. There were work-arounds for the loss of some sounds; others I just forgot about.
So for example, when I couldn’t hear the office fire alarm anymore I made sure I didn’t work there on my own. When I was working away from home I’d tell the hotel to alert me if their alarm went off in the night. Continue reading →
The Limping Chicken (the world’s most popular deaf blog) published another of my bits of writing yesterday. Thought you might like to see it (link below). If you are a non-British reader mystified by the content, Google “things Brits say sorry for” and you will find several elucidating and hilarious lists. Or, for a great piece by a British apologiser living in France, read Emily’s post on the subject, on her blog Lost in Lyon.
(Some of you know that yesterday was also the great cochlear implant switch-on day. I’m doing fine, with everything squeaking away as expected. Blog post in the offing…..)
Hope. That’s the thing. Having this operation has given me hope. It’s given Nigel hope. (There are two of us in this).
Both of us have said that when the answer was “yes” to an implant our posture changed. Instead of trudging along despondently looking at our feet our heads came up. Our shoulders relaxed. Continue reading →
Long term blog followers will remember me feeling upbeat in February. I felt sure that my hearing was returning to normal after a bad bout of fluid behind the eardrums. Things had improved massively since an initial period of almost total silence. The doctors had all reassured me that the chances of my blocked ears resulting in further permanent hearing damage were slim. It was just a case of waiting for the fluid to drain. As the blockage gradually cleared I was full of optimism. I talked about “this happy ending”.
Huge news. I have a cochlear implant. I went into hospital Thursday morning, operation in the afternoon, stayed in overnight, X-rays Friday morning to check that all looks OK in there, discharged early afternoon. “Switch on” is planned for three weeks’ time. I have a slightly sore right side of the face (nothing serious) and I’m a bit unsteady on my legs still, but otherwise OK. The best bit was when the consultant checked the X-rays, declared them fine, and called me over to see a tiny, tiny implant (like a plastic thread, with electrode dots on it) curled up nicely in my cochlea.
The plan is to blog throughout the process of the coming months, whilst I learn to hear again. Interspersed with that will be some retrospectives about what’s been happening over the summer. It’s hard to know where to begin on that. Suffice it to say, for the moment, that things never did fully recover after my blocked ears saga. It felt like they were heading that way, but I never got back the level of hearing I’d had before that virus in January.
I’ve decided to take a bit of a break from blogging. When I started More Than A Bit Deaf in February 2016 I thought I’d keep going for six months, or perhaps a year. It’s been longer than that and I’ve reached the point (54 posts later) where I feel in need of a blogging vacation. Rather than a long list of topics jostling for attention in my “ideas” folder it’s more “hmmm, long overdue for a post – what can I say that I haven’t said before?” So time to stop for a while. I don’t want to bore you.
I am keeping the site, in the expectation of returning at some stage, so please don’t unsubscribe if you might want to hear from me again. I’m also planning to still occasionally write for other deafness/hearing loss media and (with a bit of luck) they might sometimes publish things – so keep an eye out.
THANK YOU for reading. Thank you for the feedback; whether that’s comments on the blog, or e mails, or talking about it when you see me.
To people who can hear – the best thing has been people telling me they understand a little more about what hearing loss is like.
To people who can’t – those of you who’ve said I’ve managed to capture some of the things that YOU experience and feel have given ME a big boost.
One of the best things I’ve read about deafness recently is on the SayWhatClub website. Michele Linder and Chelle Wyatt (Michele and Chelle) write posts about lip reading but, as they rightly point out, you can’t lip read unless people are looking at you, speaking at a reasonable speed, standing in a good light (and so on) and THAT doesn’t happen, more often than not, unless we take charge of the situation and ask for what we need. So their latest post is less about the mechanics of lip reading and more about how comfortable we are (or are not) with our hearing loss and making other people aware of it.
I probably wouldn’t be big on eating out even if my hearing was good (I love to cook) but meals out when you can’t hear certainly have their challenges.
Problem one – Busy, noisy pubs, restaurants and cafes with lots of hard surfaces for the sound to bounce off (tiled floors, tables without table cloths, windows without curtains). It’s hard to believe the difference that soft furnishings make to speech comprehension if you have hearing loss, but it’s true. They absorb a lot of the clatter and make speech much easier to understand. Open plan restaurant kitchens are a particular disaster – all that rattling of pots and pans and the shriek of the coffee machines. I’m picturing Pizza Express as I write this. I like Pizza Express, but the acoustics can be terrible. Continue reading →
One minor casualty of our building works is that the doorbell stopped working. It was at least twenty five years old so it didn’t owe us anything, but it had an excellent sound for me – a deep, long, loud buzzing – and it was a shame to lose it. I resolved to look up what was available in the Action on Hearing Loss catalogue but before I got round to that a couple of minor problems occurred. Nigel left his keys at home one day and had to resort to ferocious banging on the front door to get my attention (scarred by previous experiences, he knows there is no point knocking politely). Continue reading →