My hearing blog – a beginning
For some time now I’ve been becoming increasingly aware that my conversational vocabulary has largely consisted of “eh”, “yer what”, and in more polite company “pardon me” and “I’m sorry”. More and more I find myself getting agitated when people don’t anunciate, talk to me from a different room, or walk away while they are talking. So, I decided to do something about it. This took a lot of soul searching… I’m only 52, what if they give me hearing aids?
But then it occurred to me. In my workong day, I not only deliver public speaking events, I also work with children and young people who have special educational needs, many of whom have hearing aids and many of whom will not where them. Why is this? If i put on a pair of Calvin Klein glasses, it’s likely that people will comment on how good they look. If somebody chooses to wear earrings, again, people might also make a positive comment. But, a hearing aid is somehow different! A piece of technology, no matter how subtle, useful, just doesn’t seem to have the same effect.
So, the plan… get hearing aids and use my influence to publicise them. However, there was a problem… the first audiologist I spoke to could not help me… he felt that I didn’t have hearing bad enough to treat. This seemed strange to me. I could not hear well and my lectures were becoming harder and harder to deliver – particularly the Q and A sessions. To quote Audiologist Claire Benton “They’re not mumbling Andrew”.
Enter The British Academy of Audiology (BAA). Purely coincidentally I had been invited to deliver the Bamford Lecture for the BAA Conference where I was introduced to Audiologist and President of the BAA, Sue Falkingham from Starkey UK. Sue was fabulous “no problem at all, we’ll fix you up”
Within a fortnight I was in the Starkey UK factory in Stockport being shown around. How hearing aids were made, repaired, designed, refurbished, repaired. An experience somewhat akin to a trip around Willie Wonka’s Chocolate Factory. Fascinating. Hearing aids fitted, I was set!
So, two monts in, how am I getting on? Very well actually – yes the first few days were a sensory challenge, but I was determined to adapt, and the transition was very quick indeed. Some environments were more difficult than others, on the first Saturday I found myself in the swimming baths for my childre’s swimming lessons followed by a
trip to Asda. I learnt pretty early on that the trick is to anticipate the environment and adjust the volume in advance. Hey presto a good visit to the suprermarket/leisure centre. Conversely, some environments are less challenging and effortlessly enhanced; the theatre, family get togethers, coffee with friends and most importantly training events, lectures and workshops. Oh, and my family and friends have stopped mumbling! It really is a life changing experience.
So, why have I called this blog post a beginning? Yes, I have been asked by Sue Falkingham to be a hearing ambassador – in my own way, I have been integrating this into my day already, not missing any opportunities to talk about my hearing aids. Let’s be proud of our hearing technology. But also, following these experiences, I am now receiving an upgrade on Thursday. SMART Hearing Aids! Honestly I can’t wait! At the moment I know very little, but be assured that I will be sharing my experiences.
A beginning indeed!
With thanks to Sue Falkingham, Starkey UK and Claire Benton and The BAA