my hearing: a story of two parts

The Audio Linguistic Course is over, the thirty mins a day of hard work over, the games complete and the guilt, when I sometimes missed a night, finished. What has changed? What have I learnt? What has been valuable? Oddly not what I thought…

I was confused by the results. I knew that something important had fundamentally changed in my hearing ability but was not sure what. I had to ask for a second audiogram and a chat with Sonja to clear up what was happening. My hearing seemed less resilient although my family, friends and work colleagues all said they had seen a great improvement.

The audio showed a slight improvement on the last one but my ability to concentrate on sound had soured! Now, I was clear about my boundaries on exactly what I could and could not hear. I knew precisely what I could do and had stopped deceiving myself, or pretending to hear. This is perhaps over simplistic, I could hear a lot more now because the way my brain operates was changed in relation to sound, particularly at high frequencies, and this was what my family and colleagues were picking up on. I have about 30% of my hearing left but the communication problems I was experiencing were in the grey margin: the edge of my hearing. What the training has done is clearly define for me where that area is. This has had a marked increase in my work communication but even more importantly in my communication to, and from, my family. This affected by use of sign language and speechreading because it operated on my cognition as well as my auditory areas. The difference is staggering.

I had, therefore, accepted my hearing loss and was now working within the limits of my hearing aids and using an awful lot of speech reading in meetings within what I thought was my permanent limit. Except I was wrong. Sonja talked at length with me about the problems at work and at her suggestion I approached my university to fund an (admittedly expensive) ROGER Hearing device set.

I was really hopeful that these would help but I had doubts about their effectiveness, resilience and complexity.

I got two simple to use devices which are small, discreet and high tech. The first (known as the Compilot) linked my phones, TV, Laptop and Tablet straight through to my hearing aids (feels like the sound is in my head but still gives me directional control. It also links through to a small disk shaped microphone (The ROGER Select) which I can either place on a table and hear everyone with incredible clarity or select one speaker (childishly simple), or clip to my wife’s lapel or place over her neck in a loop and no matter which way she looks or moves I can hear every word.

I used this at a crowded public meeting today and I heard every single word, every single one!!! I had a call silently received during the meeting which I alone could hear, the set told me who was calling and allowed me to decide whether to take the call or not. After a year living in the soundless blur of background noise and missed information, the joy of hearing again like this made me cry (literally). I have been suffering from severe deaf fatigue and now I am not, this feel less like science and more like Harry Potter magic.

When I started to use hearing aids I could not always say I noticed a big difference between when they were on and off. After auditory training, the difference now seems massive. My brain does not sleep nearly so much and I get the very best from the technology and I am sure that the same is absolutely true of the new equipment I am using.

My own view is that the training should be mandatory offered for use with hearing technology – it is that good. But, you have to work very hard to get the best out of it. The results are though, little short of spectacular.

Special thanks to Dr Paul Fitzpatrick for taking the time to write such an honest and reflective blog for us.