Posts Tagged 'Siemens Reflex L'

Kookybite Innovation #4

When John the helpful audiologist laid my Siemens Reflex L to rest and tried out a Chroma S instead, I was delighted when a silver blob emerged from the box instead of a beige one. Having ascertained that the Chroma S was going to be the answer to all my problems, he then disappeared off to the mysterious NHS hearing aid cupboard, saying “Now that we know it works, I’ll get you a beige one”. My silent “Noooooooooo!” echoed down the corridor, and I deduced that the dispensing guidelines must be silver for the boys and beige for the girls.

Clara (see comments) is working tirelessly on behalf of the gals to transform her beige ear gear into a riot of colour, but just in case something goes wrong with her pioneering techniques, these stickers with attitude could come in handy.

Logging Out

Above: Ever wondered what people got up to before the internet was invented?

Following a discussion this morning, the spouse is looking forward to observing the effects of my online umbilical being cut, when we head off for a few days to the wireless-free Buteshack.

“That’s just like you,” he said accusingly, waving a recent Guardian article which says that UK housewives spend 47% of their leisure time online.

“I don’t know how you make that out,” I snorted. “a. I’m not a housewife, and b. I spend at least 97% of my leisure time online. My activities bring joy to the blogosphere and there are at least three people out there who would agree.” I was forced to cease my statistical elaborations at that point, because I felt my joy to the blogosphere argument could be undermined by mentioning the severe disappointment a visit to these pages can bring to anyone searching for useful information on cookie bite hearing loss, the Siemens Reflex L and/ or biscuit recipes.

There then followed a heated debate about how long I will be able to survive on Bute without internet access. The spouse reckons it will be no more than 48 hours before I am found dishevelled in a dustbin with the laptop, desperately scanning the airwaves for signs of an unsecured wireless network.

Hmmm…

Good old NHS

It was with a heavy heart that I passed through the portals of Clinic O, bearing the sleeping Reflex L. It was curled up like a baby mouse in the tupperware box which has been its home for the last two weeks and it felt rather like taking Sooty the cat to the vet for the last time. I even wondered if the painful boil which had mysteriously appeared overnight in my now vacant left ear canal was some kind of divine retribution.

I took my seat in the waiting area. Hospital radio was on the telly again, but by an amazing coincidence it was doing a Norman Collier broken microphone act. Maybe it’s to make me feel at home, I thought, just as John came out to call me to his office. After one of my customary garbled explanations, he reassured me that contrary to my characteristic self-fulfilling prophecies of doom, my hearing aid days are not yet over as far as he is concerned. Hurrah! In addition, Siemens have offered to send one of their audiologists to work with John and his probably least deaf, but most time-consuming patient. Hurrah! again.

“Let’s try you with this Chroma S, instead” he said cheerfully as he casually beheaded the Reflex L. It squealed lustily in its death throes. Then my latest new best friend was set up. John attempted to get a meaningful assessment of sound quality from me by offering prompts such as “Does it sound tinny? How about hollow?” but once again I was utterly useless with my descriptions.

I couldn’t hear any daleks, though, so his work was done for the time being.

Water Palaver

It’s been a watery old week. It started with a drainpipe in the ceiling suddenly bursting on my head during an evening of merriment in one of Glasgow’s finest hostelries. It could have sprayed any of the hundred non-hearing aid wearers in the place with dubious looking brown water, but as always in any bad scenario with less than a one percent chance of being struck, I was the chosen one. As everyone else in the vicinity ran screaming from the foul cascade, the people at the next table assured me that there were no toilets on the floor above. Little did they know that, as I wrung out my jacket, amoebic dysentery was the least of my problems where the valuable on-loan piece of NHS equipment behind my left lug was concerned. Fortunately, the Siemens escaped unscathed, having been shielded from the worst by my unique frizzy coiffure.

Later in the week, as I indulged in another sudden but transient bout of hormonal self-expression, the following long-forgotten poem sprung into my mind:

When you are crying

and you are lying,

the tears

get in your ears.


I got the hearing aid out just in time.

Is it a bird?

Feeling flushed with success, I decided it was time to give the ol’ Siemens its first outdoor trip. The plan was to wear it on the short 5 minute train journey into work, take it out and then see what it was like in the relative quiet of the office at lunchtime, before even thinking about venturing out into the studio at some indeterminate point in the future. The spouse was going the same way to work that morning, so we headed to the train station for the 8:39 to Glasgow Central to have a nice leisurely start, because it was going to be a full-on day. Tickets bought, the announcement came that the 8:39 was cancelled. At 8:57 the 8:57 was cancelled. At 9:07 the 9:07 was cancelled. At 9:18 the 9:18 and everything else was cancelled, and with temperatures at minus 10 degrees, and blood pressure right off the scale, we realised we had to either move or be found frozen to death in a suburban train station. I could already see the headline in tomorrow’s Metro newspaper: TRAGIC LECTURER DIDN’T HEAR TRAIN ANNOUNCEMENT.

We started walking in the hope of getting a taxi. Mercifully the ice on the unsalted pavements had largely melted, but after 20 minutes of walking through all the rubbish revealed by the thaw, taxi idea abandoned, we hit sheet ice territory. As I encountered my first gentle slip at a set of traffic lights, recent library news footage of people falling on their arses in the current cold snap reminded me to proceed with caution. The traffic was at a standstill, but I was pleased that even though we were now trudging along one of the busiest roads in Glasgow, my lugs hadn’t yet exploded off the side of my head as I had expected. Then, in a familiar pattern of fall following pride, my autonomic nervous system helpfully folded my body in half in a reflex action, bent my knees and clasped my arms round my head just as a sound rocket slammed into it. It was new ‘car passing’ noise but a million times louder.

“Holy crap, WHAT was THAT?”

“Plane.”

Said with the nonchalance of lifelong familiarity with the full hearing spectrum.

Crikey. Mental note #2: ‘House with concrete floor, not under flight path’ was made.

By this time, I was now officially in a very bad mood. Very bad indeed. There was still another 20 mins walking to be done on sheet ice, students would already be waiting to be taught and worst of all, there would be no time for a nice cup of tea before bracing my eyeballs for their storyboards. I managed to eventually reach the office without further major incident, but a series of strange unidentified whistling noises on the way up the stairwell put the tin lid on my tin ears. My colleague was innocently standing near the studio door, as I burst through it clawing at my ear like someone in a bad hospital drama trying to tear their drip out.

“Hi Moira, the first group are ready to start. How was…”

In a mad internal sci-fi mashup, I was now turning into Mr Hyde and losing the power of speech.

“G-g-grrrr-g-got to, got to get this bloody thing out of my *******ear first…”

I burst in to the safe haven of the office, only to discover my other colleague doing a tutorial in there, with my way to the planned hearing aid hiding place in my desk barred by a huge portfolio and the student sitting in my chair. Fortunately she was deeply engrossed in discussion and didn’t seem to notice the dishevelled figure bent over her handbag at the door, with mud all up the back of her trousers, performing a sleight of hand trick with a hearing aid and a tupperware box.

What a difference a day (or two) makes

I have been assiduously putting in my hours with the Siemens Reflex L, as instructed, and now that the initial shock has worn off I am absolutely amazed at a. what I can hear and b. how quickly you do actually adjust to what sounded absolutely horrible just a few days ago. I had no expectations that a hearing aid would work for me and even though I don’t know whether it’ll cope in my work environment yet, it’s brilliant in the house. I can hear the phone ring from another room, and can hear so much more of what is being said on the telly.

At the weekend, lots of people were out sledging in the park opposite and I was absolutely staggered by what I could hear. Children’s voices, dogs barking, ambulance sirens way in the distance. Just ordinary stuff, but WOW. We’ve lived opposite that park for seven years and I’ve never heard any voices come out of it before. I was rooted to the spot for ages, just listening.

The soundscape was so evocative that it transported me straight back to my desk at school, hearing children in the playground and wishing I was outside. I realise now that I haven’t heard that kind of sound for a long, long time.

Make it stop

The spouse and I trudged back home through the snow after the hearing aid fitting and, somewhat uncharacteristically, I didn’t feel like talking. Especially through a tin can. As I stepped into our hallway, the creaky floorboards sounded like firecrackers going off and I was utterly horrified. Worse still, I could hear the spouse creaking and rustling from his study 30 feet away. Noting that I was rooted to the spot and shifting my weight from one foot to the other in a strange dance, he came to investigate.

“What are you doing now?”

“We’re going to have to buy a house with a concrete floor.”

“Eh?”

I creaked off to the kitchen to see how the lasagne was doing and was met by the sound of someone hoovering, but that turned out to be the fan oven and boiler combining in an unholy alliance. Seeking respite I headed for the living room and collapsed onto the settee. Dear God, the tapdancing woodworm were back but much louder this time. As I resisted the urge to throw the mantelpiece clock out the window, I realised for the first time why other people are always complaining about ticking clocks. On the one hand I was amazed by what I could now hear, but I didn’t see how anyone could possibly get used to this level of noise.

The lasagne, lovingly prepared by the spouse, arrived and we settled down to watch ‘House Wrecks’. Result. I could hear everything that was being said. This was more like it. But then another unrecognisable noise appeared. Aha, background music. I was starting to get the hang of this and then, just as I was getting cocky, the sound of something else I didn’t recognise wiped out House Wrecks for the best part of 15 seconds. My eyes were like saucers now.

“What the hell was that?”

“Car passing.”

Oh. My. God. To me, ‘car passing’ is a low rumble for 2 seconds as it goes by the window, but now it’s a big swooshing approach and a big swooshing departure as well. I had totally lost my appetite by now and as I crunched through the mushrooms in my lasagne, the hearing aid kept cutting out as if it was doing a Norman Collier faulty microphone sketch.

“What’s wrong with you now?” said the spouse.

“Aw, the bloody thing’s not working”

“For God’s sake you’ve only had it for an hour and a half and you’ve broken it already…hey, where are you going?”

“I’m away to see what it says on the internet.”

The internet didn’t say anything as it turned out, but a bit of judicious wiggling told me the tube had gone too far into my weary ear. I returned to my half-eaten plate of lasagne and decided I’d had quite enough for one night.

Safe in the arms of the NHS part 2: I am a dalek

Last night, the spouse and I trudged through the snow to my hearing aid fitting at the David Cronenberg clinic. It was a 6:30pm appointment again. We arrived at the swanky sliding entrance doors, but three weeks is clearly a long time in hospital terms because the previously swooshing doors now juddered shakily open 3 feet and then jammed. We squeezed through the gap and were met by a plethora of orange traffic cones in the shiny atrium and lots of black footprints. We didn’t fall for the escalators this time and went straight up in the lift, cutting about half a mile off the journey to clinic O.

There was absolutely no-one there at all this time, not even the receptionist, but there were a series of handwritten signs on A4 paper saying ‘hearing aid fittings round the corner’ sellotaped to strategic vantage points. This very much reminded me of Alan Fletcher’s image of a sign scrawled on corrugated cardboard in a ditch, saying ‘flying lessons here’, designed to illustrate authority in typography. I was just pondering whether, in actual fact, a handwritten sign might be more appropriate than formal typography for hearing aid fittings after all, when two sharp-suited men appeared in unison from around the corner. When I said my name, the sharpest suited chap did the now familiar hand pumping NHS thing and ushered me into his room of doom with such speed that I forgot to say bye bye to the spouse.

Once inside, I was met by a cross between a watchmakers workshop and what looked like a hasty moonlight flit of audio equipment. I was instructed to get as close as possible to a speaker sitting on top of a box with hundreds of wires coming out the back. There was a chair there so I sat on it, but this was not the correct response. “NO, STAND IN FRONT OF IT AND I’LL MOVE THE CHAIR. NOW SIT”. He then went on to say “OKAY, YOU’RE GETTING THE SMALLEST AID AVAILABLE AND WE DON’T GIVE THESE OUT TO MANY PEOPLE. THE ONLY REASON WE ARE ALLOWED TO GIVE YOU THIS IS BECAUSE OF YOUR TYPE OF LOSS….” So far so good, I thought “…I MUST WARN YOU, HOWEVER…” Oh, God, what now “…YOUR LOSS IS SMALL BUT IF YOUR HEARING CONTINUES TO GET WORSE, THESE WON’T BE POWERFUL ENOUGH, YOU’LL NEED TO GET THE BIGGER ONES.” I willed my auditory nerve to stop its bad behaviour right now.

“RIGHT, I’M GOING TO PLAY YOU THE RANGE OF SOUND THIS AID CAN MAKE”. He picked up what appeared to be a pair of headphones (without the ear bits on) attached to a handle, and held it up in front of my face like a priest holding a crucifix in an exorcism. The speakers then emitted a terrifyingly loud tone which went from low to high like a spaceship taking off and, although many people had warned me about how I ain’t seen nothin’ yet till I’ve been to a hearing aid fitting, I now knew what they were talking about. Next up, the crucifix headphones were applied to my heid, with the aid attached. The earpiece felt pleasantly tickly going in and I was lulled into a false sense of security. “Ouch!” I jumped in a reflex action as something, it felt like the jewellers’ screwdriver I had seen on the table when I came in, but wasn’t, was now being jabbed into my eardrum. This happened several more times, the intensity of my jumps becoming greater as the anticipation became greater.

“RIGHT, GET YOUR HEAD RIGHT NEXT TO THAT SPEAKER, I’M GOING TO PROGRAMME THE AID, DON’T MOVE AND DON’T SPEAK OR MAKE ANY NOISE”. I was hunched right over the bloody thing, wires everywhere, already feeling the first twinges of cramp and terrified of what dire consequences might accompany any involuntary movement. The next thing, my eardrums were blasted with white noise as the suited man rattled away on the computer. After a while I felt I could hear voices in the white noise and I wondered if the scientologists had come in, killed everyone in the David Cronenberg clinic, put up some signs to lure me in and I was now on my way to a spaceship.

After an eternity, the white noise stopped and some even stranger ones started. The suited man was talking to me. He now sounded like a dalek. “Okay, that’s you hearing through the aid now,” he said. For the first time in my life I was speechless, I hadn’t seen this one coming. “You’ll find your voice sounds a bit strange at first, but you’ll get used to it after a while.” I wanted to cry, but realising what a total ingrate I would appear when loads of people would give their eye teeth to hear what I was hearing, I muttered something about everything sounding a bit different and noted internally how strange my voice sounded right enough. “Open fit is much better than the earmoulds you’ll need if you get worse,” he said, “you really get the full ‘head in a biscuit tin’ effect with those”. I wanted to cry again. Fortunately I was momentarily distracted.

“What’s that noise?” I said, “that rhythmic ticking noise”. It was incredibly loud and seemed to be coming out of the table in front of me. I turned my head from side to side hoping this would help identify both the sound and where it was coming from, but no, it was definitely coming out of the table. Surely not a bomb despite the plethora of wires, I mused, but could it be a tapdancing woodworm colony? I’ve completely lost my ability to tell where sounds are coming from lately, so ticking tables, blackbirds singing in my bedside cabinet and planes landing in the hallway all seem quite normal. My quest was helpfully ended by the suited man. “Probably the clock”, he said, gesturing to a clock above the door behind me. Speechless again.

And that’s just the beginning.


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