Safe in the arms of the NHS part3

Went to see the audiologist this morning about the whistling lughole. It’s the first time I’ve been to the hospital in daylight, so it had an altogether more cheery aspect. The front doors had been fixed since last time and when I reached clinic O, there was even a receptionist. The sun was shining and things were looking up.

The telly was switched to hospital radio, but my wandering attention was soon drawn to the procession of patients arriving with crumpled brown paper bags in their hands. They were ushered in to a room, to emerge exactly five minutes later, smiling and with an additional brown bag. Definitely not a hearing aid fitting then, too much smiling. What was in those bags? Why were they all so happy?

My precise timing of their movements was interrupted by an even more interesting distraction unfolding at the reception desk. A surgeon in scrubs and white wellies was letting off some steam.

“Got in this morning,” he said, “the patient’s there waiting just now, but no notes and no bloody instruments.”

My over-active imagination ran riot. What was the patient supposed to be having done? Was the surgeon still going to do it anyway? The lack of notes wasn’t a problem since they never read them at the best of times, but the instruments could be a little more problematic. I was glad it wasn’t me in a paper gown sitting waiting for him to come back, and I prayed that he wasn’t one of those surgeons you read about who likes to improvise with a mop-head coupled to a cordless drill or something like that. As always at an interesting juncture, my thoughts were interrupted by someone calling my name.

This was the first audiologist I’d seen at the start of a shift rather than the end, so there was no tired and exasperated swivelling on chair and rapid opening and closing of drawers to the exclamation of “where’ve they put the flippin’ no.2 tubes now” as had happened the last time. Terry was new, totally composed and very nice.

“So I’ve got you down for a 5 minute appointment just to see how you’re getting on” he said.

Five minutes…was I going to emerge from his office smiling with a brown bag in my hand, just like the others? More importantly, how was I going to explain myself and be fixed in five minutes? I reckoned I’d better get stuck in. Terry listened very patiently and then made a move to connect me to the computer. I flinched like a beaten dog as he picked up the cable, thinking that I was about to be jabbed in the eardrum by a tired and hungry audiologist again. My fears were unfounded. Once connected up onscreen, there was lots of mouse clicking and Terry rubbed his head at the sight of the graphs. Then came the devastating news that all was exactly as it should be. He made a valiant attempt at problem-solving by thinking out loud as I stared at him intently, willing him to come up with a solution as if in a movie where the tech is trying to fix the onboard computers as a plane is about to crash.

“Mmmm, maybe more occlusion needed…tap tap…no, wait a minute you’re better in the high frequencies…nah, no use…domes…tips…1KHz…hmmm…most people who come in here are a lot older…wait a minute…nah, won’t work…maybe I can…are you in any strong electromagnetic fields…that could be it…mmm…turn off wind cancelling”

“NO, don’t turn off the wind cancelling” I pleaded, “I like walking in the country. I’ve just got the ambient noise back”

“Aye, you’re right, that would be really annoying” said Terry.

A full 30 mins later I emerged from Terry’s clutches having had the volume turned down in the 1KHz area to see if that makes any difference. It does, although I felt that my ungracious initial reaction of “Oh my god, that sounds crap” was a little hasty, so I’m giving it a whirl.

What I need for my next experiment is an 80 foot room in a concrete building, fifty students and a bat-eared colleague. Roll on tomorrow…

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