“Don’t let them take your old hearing aids off you Hun”, pleaded the spouse as I set off for my visit to Clinic O this morning, to be lavished with a full hearing aid upgrade. I reassured him that, until such time as the upgrade had been given a full trial, the Oticons would be going nowhere without me, unless I was chloroformed in the hospital lift by the rogues who illegally sell NHS hearing aids to unsuspecting bidders on eBay. Fifteen minutes later, in the lift up to Clinic O, I made sure that I didn’t turn my back on anyone, just in case. At the second floor, I got out alone and with hearing aids intact and set off on the walk along the empty corridor. There was not a soul in sight, and when I emerged into the eerily empty waiting room, the ENT reception desk was unattended and all the doors to the rooms in the Hearing Aid Clinic were locked.
“Maybe they saw my name in the book and everyone’s hiding”, I thought, before realising there were still another five minutes to go until my rousingly early 8am appointment. I took my pick of the seats in the best vantage point for name call, and since it was so early that the telly wasn’t even on yet, I kept myself busy by putting my latest trial pair of multifocal contact lenses through their paces. I had been ready to throw in the towel after the first pair, but the optician is clearly an optimist and/ or likes a challenge. I focused randomly on the distant noticeboard, but all was a blur apart from the familiar sign made from four A4 printouts taped together saying HEARING AID CLINIC in one foot high capitals. Hmmm. It seemed I’d have to adopt my new multifocal distance vision pose to force the lenses into the correct alignment with my eyeballs to see any thing else on the board. I took a deep breath, turned my head as far as it would go to the left, then swivelled my eyes as far as they would go to the right, whilst keeping my chin firmly over the left shoulder. The noticeboard swam briefly into focus, but as I wondered whether this ludicrous posture was really sustainable as a multifocal vision solution whilst running for trains, etc, the first poster I read turned out to be very apposite.
“Having trouble hearing? Having trouble seeing?” enquired the headline in a cheery fashion, before everything drifted annoyingly out of focus again.
“Hell, yes!” I said to myself, reassured that I had come to the right place. I read on excitedly, but it turned out that I had not ended up in Specsavers Hearcare by accident, after all. The poster was actually an invitation to sign up for a meeting of Deafblind Scotland and, despite the clear resonance of its headline, I’m not quite eligible for that particular club. Just as I was puzzling over how the intended target audience would access the poster, my name was called, and I was invited to step into the audiometry booth.