Monday Means Better Hearing

It’s good to hear the birdcalls in the woods.

One of the worst things about getting older is the gradual decline of the body. The bits and bobs one used to be able to rely on suddenly prove themselves utterly unreliable, and it comes as an unpleasant surprise. Some muscles stop working as efficiently (as does the brain), while other senses and organs slide more slowly towards decrepitude, but the overall impression given is one of collapse.

Some functions come with remedies. Eyesight can be rectified with relevant lumps of plastic in frames or held on the eyeball; old hips can be replaced with space-age metal; ears can be …

Ah, yes, Ears.

I lost most of the hearing in my right ear practically overnight. It was literally that fast. I went to sleep with pretty much perfect hearing, and when I woke up, it was as if my ear had water in it. You know that dullness when you have been in a swimming pool, and you have to tilt your head to get the water out before you can hear properly? That is how it sounded.

The worst thing about having never really suffered from anything, is the disbelief that anything could have gone that wrong. I assumed it was some kind of fault that would soon go away, and that my hearing would return. I waited, and then a month went by, and a couple more, and my quality of life wasn’t really impeded, and besides, I was busy, so it was probably a year or so later that I wondered whether I should see a doctor.

I did. And learned that my hearing was severely degraded in that ear. The audiologists told me there was nothing to worry about, and suggested some tests. First of these was a visit to a claustrophobia-inducing MRI scanner, which desperately hunted for a still-functioning brain cell (I don’t think it did very well). The consultant was glad to tell me that there was no sign of a brain tumour – which was a relief. Especially since no one had told me they were looking for one.

So I’m deaf – whereas this mutt has selective hearing.

So, since then, about nine years ago, I have had to get used to wearing a hearing aid, until this year. Now I have progressed to the stage where the first ear is more than “profoundly” deaf – it is basically non-functioning. At the same time, the other ear has lost higher frequencies, and is beginning to grow ineffective. So the audiologists have put me onto a “cross-over” aid system. This means a hearing aid on one side for the ear that is losing its function, and a second aid on the duff ear that doesn’t try to get that ear to work, but instead sends a signal via Bluetooth (or something similar) to the good ear. It doesn’t bring back stereo hearing, but does at least mean I can hear simple sounds no matter from where they emanate.

But, since I’m an old codger, when I’m in a meeting and there is a lot of noise going on around me, I’m effectively deaf. I can’t hear the person right in front of me, if there’s background chat. Which is rather difficult in business.

So I was delighted to hear of the “Access To Work” project with the Department of Work and Pensions. Under this, disabled people who need help with their jobs can claim for a lump sum equivalent to the number of days worked. You work five days a week? You can claim 5/7ths of the cost of a tool to help you with work. You still have to pay the remainder, since that will be yours to use in leisure hours, but the majority of the sum will be paid.

Since I am self-employed, the DWP accepts I work six days a week. I have spoken to Chime, the NHS audiologists who deal with my area, and a magical pen-microphone is now ordered.

With luck, on Friday week I will be able to start using a new device that will make listening to conversations an awful lot easier. I cannot wait. Seriously. sitting with three or four people and not being able to follow any conversation, sitting in a meeting and not hearing what is being discussed, or even sitting in my kitchen and not being able to follow what is on the radio, is horrible. I feel divorced from family and friends.

So, if you discover that your hearing suddenly decays – don’t hesitate. Go straight to your doctor and insist on seeing an ENT (Ear, Nose, Throat) consultant. A sudden loss of hearing can often be partly or largely recovered, apparently, with a steroid treatment. If you’re lucky, you may not suffer the catastrophic loss that I experienced.

Enough on hearing. In case you’re interested, I’ve been working on one book, while cracking on with the copyedit of Jack Blackjack/Bloody Mary 4 – and soon I’ll have to start writing book 5 in the series, since it’s been commissioned now. And in spare moments, I’ve been working on videos on my YouTube channel, also called “writerly witterings”, where I am reviewing books and talking about writers – as well as looking at keyboards, pens, inks and papers. I hope to see you over there soon!

Comments
7 Responses to “Monday Means Better Hearing”
  1. Dan D says:

    Well that’s good news in a difficult situation, Michael. I have Meniere’s Disease, which is an inner-ear disorder that can lead to episodes of vertigo and eventual hearing loss. Fortunately, mine is relatively minor and can be handled with a diuretic pill and low-sodium diet. But I do have tinnitus and occasional hearing issues with my left ear, although my annual tests indicate very little actual loss. Yes, it stinks getting old!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Glad to hear you are getting sorted with your hearing aids and mic. As you say, as one ages stuff like this happens. However, even at my advanced age Mr. Jecks I didn’t miss the allusion to your mysterious “working on one book”. This is the second time you have mentioned it and I can’t wait till you finally reveal its title.

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    • Thanks for that, Dan – sorry to hear about your affliction, but I’m glad it’s only “relatively” minor – but tinnitus is a pain, isn’t it? I’ve had it in my deaf ear ever since I lost the hearing, and it’s deafening on occasion!

      Like

      • Dan D says:

        Yes, it can be. But mine is a low ‘roar’ like listening to the ocean in a seashell, so I can I can use it to dream that I am actually on a warm sunny beach in Cape Cod or St Augustine, FL!

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  2. Wow, here’s to hoping Friday brings an amazing transformation for you!

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  3. cybaea says:

    Ah! I had the same: woke up one Friday morning and couldn’t hear on my right ear. Thursday evening all was fine. Went to the GO and on to the ENT specialist. Nerve has died (or deteriorated to the tune of -80dB) for unknown reasons and there is nothing they can do.
    Means no directional hearing and very hard to follow conversations in noisy surroundings. I did have an old-school crossover aid (cable,not bluetooth) but it helps with neither problem.
    Wishing you all the best with your new hearing aid.

    Like

    • That sounds exactly the same as mine – except from memory I woke up deaf on a Thursday morning! I would suggest that you try the cross-over earphones again. I’ve found these infinitely better than my old aid. In addition, though, the new Phonak ComPilot 2 and Roger Pen have made a radical difference. The pen can sit in the middle of a table and pick up all the voices much more clearly, and in really tough situations, an individual can pick it up like an ordinary microphone. Added to that, I can stream music from my phone to the earphone now, which is proving absolutely wonderful, since all the signals are sent to my good ear. And finally, it also works as a remote mic for my mobile phone. In short, I’m very pleased!

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