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Tails Of Woe

BatteryBot admires the sleek contours of the new Oticon Spirit Zests and gets to grips with their unfamiliar snap-on tubes, while the Easter Bunny has a go at selecting the right size domes.

“What’s the matter with you now?” said the spouse, as a heavy black cloud descended on the settee.

“I knew these tubes were too short”, I whined, “and I need tails…look! the domes have come right out of my ears. I’ve tried all the spares and they’re all too short…the sound keeps cutting out. What use is that?” I gurned for a bit, then waggled my jaw ferociously from side to side like a demented sheep to prove my point.

The spouse ignored this seductive display of wifely attractiveness, recognising it as the familiar aftermath of a hearing aid appointment. He was going to have to brace himself in order to make a masculine practical suggestion.

“You’ll have to go back, then”, he said. “Why don’t you phone clinic O in the morning.”

“I can’t…they’ll go mad…they thought they’d seen the back of me by giving me all those different domes and tubes. If I phone up less than 24 hours later, they’ll have me down as an awkward customer…I’ve probably used up their entire budget already…oh god.”

After a sleepless night of mental preparation, I phoned clinic O and was back in the soundproof room by lunchtime.

“What can we do for you today?” said the latest member of the audiology team to be assigned to my seemingly never-ending case.

I did another highly unattractive display of jaw waggling, and threw in some eyebrow raising for good measure. I then completed my new party trick by popping the domes right out of my lugholes with a simulated yawn.

“Hmmmm…I think you need a longer tube”, said the hearing aid lady, probably thinking I was suffering from some sort of complex neurological disorder after witnessing my facial gymnastics. “Let’s try the next size up.” I saw a pair of scissors come out, and this reminded me to ask her not to cut the tails off the new tubes. Snip. Too late.

I decided not to push my luck by asking for the tails to be re-instated, and said thank you instead. I wandered off down the corridor enjoying the now continuous soundscape of clinic O, and waggling my jaw with impunity.

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The Upgrade part 2: Maybe they might be taking them after all…

hearing aids with wings

The very nice new audiologist must have noted my intensely misplaced interest in the Deafblind poster in the waiting room, because she warned me to watch my step on the raised threshold of the audiometry room as I entered. I was very impressed by her charming and attentive manner which made me feel slightly less apprehensive about potentially having to wave goodbye to the Oticon Spirit Zests. I had become rather attached to them, and it occurred to me that they had been listening in on every conversation I’ve had for the last 3 years. Ah, if hearing aids could talk, what tales they could tell, I mused poetically, wondering if if I could patent the idea for espionage purposes. Fortunately the Oticons had their battery drawers open during my previous visit to clinic O last month, and couldn’t hear their digital death sentence being issued by the hearing aid re-tubing lady. I cast my mind back to that fateful morning:

“We’re discontinuing services and spares on these Oticons”, she had announced gravely, as she rummaged through the tubes box, ” I’ll change them for you just now while we’ve still got some left in stock, but this will be the last time…you’re actually due for an upgrade anyway…you’ll get something nice and new instead, isn’t that good!”

“But…but…” I spluttered, “I got these ones ordered specially because of my type of loss, the standard issue ones didn’t work for me, I could hear the circuit noise…what will I get instead?”

Please don’t say Danalogic i-FIT 71, pleeeease’,  I beseeched my inner deity, despite it having let me down on quite a few beseechings lately.

“It’ll be one of these”, she said, reaching for the silicone ear model and plucking a brown chipolata-sized hearing aid from its rubber earhole. I should have been distressed at its size and general appearance, which was that of a partially inflated water balloon, but I’ve come a long way since nearly fainting at my first sight of a tiny NHS beige prawn back in 2010. Besides, the chipolata didn’t look like the previous i-fit I’d had, so there was still hope. Hey, maybe it was actually a top-notch Phonak or something…tssk, typical of me to have assumed the worst, I sighed. I tried desperately to align the elusive close vision sweet spot of my bifocals with the name on the casing to see if it started with ‘P’, but the re-tubing lady got in there first.

“It’s the new, improved Danalogic i-FIT es 71″ she announced cheerily, before turning her attention back to the disembowelled Oticons and doing a bit more noisy rummaging in drawers.

“But…but…” I spluttered, before the rummaging suddenly stopped and I was hit by the next devastating blow. Having to get my ears syringed again in preparation for the new fitting was bad enough, but there was worse to come; it seemed there was only one longer No. 2 tube left, so I’d have to have a shorter No. 1 on the right aid. I had a flashback to my last experience with a No.1 tube and panicked.

“That won’t work” I blurted unintentionally forcefully, giving the re-tubing lady a bit of a fright. She hadn’t realised what kind of peculiar exterior and interior head anatomy she was dealing with when innocently making her suggestion. I felt bad for being so ungracious, but it was just that the thought of having to gurn my way through the day to keep a too-short tube in place was very unappealing, especially in conjunction with the bizarre cranial contortions necessary to see anything through my new bifocal contact lenses. If all this kept up, I’d have to start wearing a clown suit to work in order to lend some gravitas to my academic image. No, this wouldn’t do at all.

“Just fish the old tube out the bin, and stick a new dome on it” I said, very pragmatically.

Tubetastic Turquoise

NHS Oticon Spirit Zests with a difference

NHS Oticon Spirit Zests with a difference

The spouse found himself in a spot of hearing aid hot water when he decided to phone the hearing aid spares company on my behalf, to find out what had happened to my eagerly awaited delivery of pimping supplies. It was now two weeks late.

The conversation was going swimmingly until the person on the other end of the line decided to ask what had been ordered. The spouse, who was pretending to be me, for convoluted reasons to do with names on joint account bank cards, was somewhat thrown by this sudden demand on his hearing aid technical knowledge. Fortunately, he managed to dig deep into memories of three years of fraught tirades from his beloved.

“Er…tubes and domes…and a few other bits and bobs”, he spluttered, wondering if his cover as a hearing impaired impostor was about to be blown in a very embarrassing fashion.

“Bits and bobs?”, said the person on the other end of the line as they accessed the order details. The spouse began sweating, since it seemed his deception was about to be uncovered. He had reached the limits of his hearing aid know-how. Fortunately, help was at hand from his inquisitor, who filled in the missing details for him with a breezy “Ah yes, seems we’ve got an expander tool and some antiseptic wipes on here as well.”

“Expander tool?”, repeated the spouse with trepidation, wondering what was going to be expanded and wishing he’d never picked up the phone. Fortunately his torment was over.

“The Super Seals expander tool has been out of stock until this week,” said the person on the other end apologetically, “but your order will be despatched tomorrow.”

True to their word, it was indeed despatched the next day and, after some excited thread wrapping, I now have several interchangeable sets of coloured tubes to match my necklaces. Even better, the tubes still have their retention tails on them, and there has been a marked increase in volume as a result, since the domes now sit further inside my ears.

Despite the successful outcome of his phone interventions, the spouse has now handed in his resignation as my PA.


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