Phew, Christmas went by in a flash, didn't it?
Seems like yesterday I was arriving home at the rents, laden down with presents and bags, excited to be spending the festive season with them.
And honestly, it's been amazing. Brilliant fun, brilliantly relaxing, brilliant food. In fact, the only thing it's not been brilliant for, is my clothes. They're all too tight as I failed to resist the lure of the cherseboard.
One of my Christmas presets was a shiny new iPhone upgrade in the form of an iPhone 4S. I've had my treasured iPhone 3, mark 2, since I dropped the first one down the loo at my 30th birthday party almost two and a half years ago and it's been a wonderful companion. But recently the middle button, which on iPhones is rather crucial, has stopped working.
So for Christmas, Ma offered to pay for a new phone. I wanted to pay more up front to keep my monthly bill down, so we arrived at the O2 stored ready to pay rather a lot. *gulp
Anyway, I love O2 staff. I've never met one that's provided bad customer service and the lovely Alex at my rents' local O2 shop was no exception. He listened to exactly what I wanted, and then came up with an affordable monthly contract with the phone costing £30. Thirty pounds!!!!!!
Ma was delighted at this, so delighted that she upgraded her 20-year-old brick of a phone to an iPhone 4S, too... Without any hesitation.
Alex had struck gold.
So what do I think of my swanky new iPhone 4S? Well, the middle button works, which is a lovely treat and it's so fast and shiny. Everything happens immediately where as my iPhone 3 seemed to be constantly groaning under the weight of my demands.
Better still I've got a few more shiny new apps on it, such as the Blogger app, which means I can update my blog even more easily than before. And considering I haven't blogged in so long you've all probably forgotten I have a blog, this is definitely no bad thing.
But my New Years resolution is to blog more and with my shiny new iPhone it just got a lot easier.
Roll on 2013 peeps, roll it on!
Tuesday, 4 December 2012
Yesterday, I came into possession of some free baking potatoes – not through theft I might add.
'Excellent,' I thought as I did a mental Ready Steady Cook thinking about the beans and cheese I knew I already had at home.
But of course jacket potatoes, if you want them with tasty skins are not something to hurry but given the fact that my hunger rating has been off the scale recently, a two-hour slow cook in my beloved Smeg oven was out of the question.
So instead I scrubbed my potato and stuffed it in the microwave for 5 minutes while cranking my oven up to its top fan-assisted heat setting.
The microwave pinged – allegedly as even my new aids don't give me this sound – and I transferred my somewhat gelatinous baked potato to the shelf of my rather hot oven wishing the skin would crisp quickly.
Ten minutes later I opened the oven door and discovered that my Smeg oven is seemingly capable of solar-like temperatures. My jacket potato was in danger of becoming a cinder of its former self.
I quickly scooped it up, plonked on the hot beans and added a little sprinkle (ha, can anyone actually just have a little sprinkle?!) of grated cheese followed by a dash of Tabasco and some sea salt flakes.
It looked delicious.
But then, from amongst the whirr of my oven cooling down and the low hum of my TV, another sound began to penetrate my hearing aids.
'What is that?!' I wondered as I stood and listened for a second gradually realising it was a low buzzing sound. I picked up my door phone thinking someone was outside but it wasn't that. And then I remembered I'd just burnt my jacket potato in an oven that was hotter than the sun and flew into my bedroom.
There was a disco going on.
The fire alarm strobe was flashing in a retina scorching manner and the vibrating box? Well to ensure I am awoken in a fire, this is sandwiched between the mattress and the wooden bed frame and the wood acts as the most amazing sound conductor. I picked it up in a panic, before realising that I had to put it back down and go and waft my smoke alarm to shut it up. I grabbed the closest thing to waft with – my pyjama bottoms – and legged it to my hallway, flailing wildly underneath my smoke alarm, which is miles away given the height of my ceilings. The disco continued in the next room.
Mid flail, I anticipated just what kind of email I'd be receiving from my neighbour.
Then finally, everything was calm.
Well everything except for me that is. I was shaking like a Powerplate stuck on high. Adrenalin coursed through my veins, my hair looked like I'd been dragged through a hedge backwards after it had become tangled up in the flapping pyjama bottoms, and my dinner?
Well thankfully as it'd baked it in an oven that was hotter than the sun, it was still nice and warm and the sprinkling (ha!) of cheese had melted nicely.
As I sat there munching away, marvelling at what had just happened, I couldn't help wondering how it is that I can bake such marvellous cakes and dream up quite bonkers recipes but when it comes to simple things, such as boiling eggs (they explode), stir-fries (I always cook the meat to death for fear of poisoning my guests), cheese on toast (another fire alarm causing meal of mine - how do you stop the corners from catching fire?), and indeed baked potatoes, I'm completely hopeless.
It takes me right back to my school days when my chocolate pudding exploded in my pressure cooker, came through the valve and decorated the ceiling like a cow on laxatives.
So tonight I am doing the following for dinner – making sure someone cooks it for me. Any offers?
Monday, 26 November 2012
This morning I put my hearing aids in earlier than normal after waking up at 5.30am and not being able to get back to sleep.
I lay there listening to the sounds of a Monday morning and marvelling at just how loud everything sounds in my flat.
What I could mainly hear however, was the pub around the corner and up the road from me getting a keg delivery. It was making a racket. I'd never heard that in my flat before.
It's been like that a lot recently – hearing things I've never heard before. Yesterday while visiting NikNak and chatting to her in her living room I was aware of some noise filtering through. 'What is that?' I asked her, baffled. 'Church bells!' she replied. I was amazed and I think she was a bit, too. I mean, I can only hear church bells normally if I'm right by the church in question.
It's been a bit of a shock. After all, you know how much I liked my pre-hearing aid world. I think, because I can lipread so well and London is quite a noisy place, I never really thought about what I wasn't hearing. And it's not like I could have told you what I wasn't hearing because I didn't know those sounds existed.
The only thing that really really reminded me that I couldn't hear was the fact that I was completely reliant on subtitles to follow anything on the TV.
But get this...
Again, while at NikNak's house yesterday, there was a Peppa Pig DVD playing on a loop as Mini K was poorly and being a massive Peppa fan, this was taking her mind off things.
At one point the entire family were out of the room doing things except for me and Mini K and so we sat in companionable silence watching precocious Peppa flounce around the screen. And do you know what? I could pick up words. I heard actually words from the TV without any subtitles to give me a clue. I could make out enough to work out what was going on in the world of Peppa Pig. OK, so this is a cartoon with kid's language but it's a cartoon, and you can't lipread cartoons!!
How utterly brilliant is that?!
When my audiologist said my hearing aids would get better over time, I didn't really believe him. I kinda thought it was a ploy on his part to get me to keep them in and give them a chance. But I'm quite excited that in December I can go back for my appointment and tell him that they do work, even though he probably knew that already.
They are not miracles and I am not hearing. I am Deafinitely Girly and always will be. But they are life enhancers. And right now, I'm more than happy to have a little bit of that in my world.
Happy Monday peeps!
Friday, 23 November 2012
Today is Thankful Friday and I'm thankful for the way that each of my individual friends inspires or teaches me something.
Lesson one was from Miss H in the art of confrontation, after an old lady was rude to us in a café on Monday. You see, this café is amazing but as a result it's also always rammed. We queued politely to get to the counter where we ordered our food and prayed a table would become available. Then all of sudden a table became available. But quick as a flash the old ladies behind us went and put their coats on the seats, effectively reserving four places for just them. We naturally, with nowhere else to sit, and after checking there were really just two old ladies, went and moved their coats to just two seats and sat down.
The first old lady scuttled over a few minutes later and started on Miss H. 'You've taken our place that we reserved,' she ranted as I struggled to follow what she was bleating about. Miss H sweetly replied that it really wasn't the kind of place where you could reserve seats and we continued our lunch. The old lady then started saying we'd taken the whole table by putting our coats on the seat by Miss H, but mid rant she was stopped by her friend who pointed out that the coat and bag she was referring to was in fact hers. Finally, the first old lady shut up and sat down. But what I found amazing was how Miss H stood her ground. She was polite but firm and the whole episode did nothing but present the old lady as a rude old bag who though age gave her the right to walk all over the younger generation. It does not.
My second lesson was about happiness and came from Fab Friend who paid me an impromptu visit this week after locking herself out of her flat.
She's recently been to India -– first to Mumbai on business and then to Goa for a yoga retreat – and as I was listening to her talk about everything, I was utterly inspired by her attitude to life right now. She's doing amazing, exciting and sometimes downright terrifying things all the time, she's challenging herself and she's happy.
Lesson number three came Uni Housemate who stayed with me while in town on business this week. As we chatted about the things that were on my mind she gave me the most fabulous peek at the other side of the grass and reminded me how the grass can be green on both sides you know.
And Lesson number 4? Well that came from me. Recently I've found myself feeling a bit overwhelmed by all the changes happening around me. But last night, as I was sat on my sofa, I started to wonder why I couldn't hear the TV anymore. There was the most insane noise coming through my hearing aids. I sat there for a moment listening to it before finally realising it was the rain. I could hear actual rain from inside a house. Wondering if it was particularly noisy rain, I took out my hearing aids, and it went quiet, then I put them back in and the amazing clattering, battering, syncopated rhythm of the rain came clamouring through again. It was amazing, and as I continued to listen, I was reminded that while change happens its not always a bad thing.
My hearing aids are changing my life. And that makes this a very Thankful Friday.
Tuesday, 20 November 2012
Yesterday I closed my online dating profile and breathed a big sigh of relief.
It was for the best really. My heart wasn't in it. My head wasn't in it and my diary certainly wasn't having a bean of it. I realised halfway through writing an email to Trifle Man that suggesting meeting in January probably wasn't going to be conducive to getting to know each other and that I was wrong to keep putting him off. However, that doesn't really explain why he felt the need to reply with a picture of himself sat on a horse.
Anyway, I've ventured into the world of online dating several times since I move to London as a wide-eyed graduate 10 years ago. Through online dating, I've also met some lovely people such as Wise Friend and GBman, both of whom I am still good friends with. But perhaps that's where I'm going wrong. I mean, I love that I now know Wise Friend and GBman when otherwise our paths would never have crossed, but really I seem to be a success story only when it comes to Internet Friending.
I am rubbish at the dating part of things...
Take the time the guy told me about his IBS and lengthy toilet trips in the second minute of our first conversation, just as I bit into a chocolate brownie (the rest went straight in the bin). Or the guy who told me that he liked me but I had to make all the effort as he was done doing that with girls then asked me to get him a pint. I calmly walked to the bar and then just kept on walking, into the night, muttering under my breath like some crazy lady in complete disbelief that men like that actually existed.
Then there was the one who asked me how long my longest relationship was, then proceeded to tell me I was obviously a commitment phobe and was I aware of this? 'You're the one who's pushing 45 and acting like a 23 year old,' I wanted to scream. But instead I ordered a very overpriced gin and tonic at the very overpriced bar he had chosen before excusing myself of his company and the bill and getting the bus home.
I could go on, but it only gets worse. There was the man who was so insanely boring that I fell asleep at the bar where we were drinking and only to wake up when my head hit the table and find he hadn't actually noticed. And the man who when I told him I was deaf, after we had met in a particularly loud and dark bar, simply made his excuses and left, *sniff. And then there was the one who decided that we were going to get married and live happily ever after before I'd even agreed to meet him for a drink. Needless to say the drink never happened.
Internet dating is not all about the horror stories – I have proof of this as several of my happily married/engaged friends met this way. But I don't think it's the way for me. I can't do the whole small talk with strangers over email any longer. I don't want pictures of men with trifles cluttering up my inbox or guys telling me I must be a commitment phobe (although it may well be true). I don't want to be judged on my deafness, my height, weight or personality from afar, or in person on the first meeting and I know don't want to be the person who does that either, because honestly internet dating does make you a little judgey…
So I'm stepping out of cyberspace and into reality.
And as long as no one emails me a picture of themselves with a trifle, it should all be ok… (I. MUST. STOP. BEING. JUDGEY)
I'll keep you posted.
Tuesday, 13 November 2012
Every day I am more and more amazed by the power of Twitter.
Twitter – in all it's 140 characters of sometimes hilarity, sometimes abuse and often just random chatter – is becoming quite a fixture in my life.
But not just in a way to showcase my latest baked goods or banter with some of my favourite Twitter peeps – come back soon @grouchotendency – but in a way of finding out stuff, accessing information that I would otherwise struggle to access and get things done where once, only a phone call would do.
Take yesterday for example. I finally took the plunge and applied to Thames Water for a water meter. After all, there is only me in my flat, I don't have a dishwasher, I take showers not baths, and I do one load of washing a week. I even brush my teeth with the tap turned off. So I had begun to resent paying so much for water, when I clearly wasn't using it.
I applied online for the meter. It was compulsory to put your phone number and email address and when I hit send, I got a notification message that someone would be calling me to arrange a home visit to check whether my house was suitable for a meter.
'Bother' I thought, dreading that unrecognised number flashing up on my telephone and I immediately tweeted about this issue and thought nothing more about it.
But then, this morning, I received a tweet from Kirsty @ThamesWater asking me if there was anything she could do to help – she'd obviously seen my indirect mention of Thames Water from the previous day. I told her my predicament and she started following me on Twitter so that I could DM her my details.
As a result of this, there is a now a note on my details making sure that I am only contacted by post and email and apparently also, there is a letter about someone coming to check whether it's possible to have a water meter fitted and appointment times. So no phone calls will be needed.
All that from Twitter.
It's not the first time I've sorted something that I'd otherwise need the phone for. The marvellous peeps on the @o2 Twitter feed sorted out my home broadband, if I tweet that I'm not well, friends will offer to ring the GP, and when I locked myself out of my flat, lovely peeps as far away as Edinburgh offered their ears to make calls for me.
And let's not forget last Friday evening when my First Great Western train was diverted via Bath and Bristol. Unable to hear the announcements, I tweeted @FGW and the lovely Ollie got straight back to me explaining that the diversion and delay were due to signal failure.
When I joined Twitter all those years ago, I thought it'd be fun – a way of spreading the Deafinitely Girly word. But what it's becoming more and more is a way to help me live my life – a productive, informative, phone-call free, deaf-friendly way.
That and a way to win books – since I've joined Twitter, I have won a lot of books.
Twitter doesn't have to be about trolling or controversy. It's possible to turn it into a little information machine, another pair of ears in a very un-deaf-friendly world. People like @Kidsaudiologist who advised me when I had a hearing wobble or @paulbelmontesli who offers advice on everything from chocolate to well, everything actually.
I never thought it was possible. But it really is.
And let's not forget half the guest list for my Accidental Wedding in April is coming from Twitter. Including @KatieFforde who is my maid of honour – who I met on Twitter because of my love of cooking.
Thanks to my First Great Western delay I bashed out more than the first two chapters of The Accidental Wedding on the train last Friday…
Better get writing faster though if the wedding's in April really, hadn't I?
Save the date peeps! Save the date!
Monday, 5 November 2012
Yesterday was a music-filled day and I loved it.
You see, since coming home on Friday evening after work, broken from my week of partying, I wasn't able to get the amazement that I'd been able to hear my neighbour's daughter playing her flute in the downstairs flat.
I mean, if I could hear that flute, then surely I'd be able to hear my own.
So yesterday afternoon I decide to locate my flute and all my sheet music, both of which were buried right at the back of my spare room underneath the bed, where I hid them to try and dull the sadness I felt at not being able to play anymore when I moved in three years ago.
I loved my flute. As a violinist from the age of 6, I begged the rents to let me play the flute too, but my amazing flute teacher-to-be said I had to be 10 years old so that I was big enough to reach the keys without constricting my rib cage and breathing.
On my 10th birthday I had my first lesson. It was love at first hear and I flew up the grades.
When I lost more hearing in my teens, I just ploughed on through, playing my pieces an octave lower until I knew the tune then dealing with the silence the higher notes brought.
When I moved to London I sought out a teacher. He was amazing. He taught me sound visualisation so that I got the right diaphragm pressure to create the high notes I couldn't hear.
But instead of being happy, I found myself being a ball of emotion in my fortnightly lessons. I cried frequently, sometimes out of sadness but mostly out of frustration that I was no longer getting the same enjoyment from my flute.
It affected everything and I could feel a growing resentment for my deafness – something I'd fought hard to overcome, so in the end I stopped my lessons and banished the flute to the depths of my underbed storage.
So you see, really, yesterday wasn't really just about seeing whether the Sound Recover on my new Phonaks was going to help me get my flute back.
I started with some trepidation, warming up with a few Bach studies and Morceau de Concours by Claude Arrieu. The sound came. My lungs seemed horrified at the breathing I was asking them to do.
And the sound?
Well, I think I could hear the Sound Recover function's adjustment of the higher notes but the problem was, these weren't moved into a harmonious place, the notes were jarring with the pitch of the note I was actually playing.
It was so frustrating.
It would be like playing a piano piece with the left in the correct key and the right hand a semitone apart from what it should be. It was not pretty.
But it made me wonder – and if any knowledgeable hearing aid peeps could answer this I'd be eternally grateful – can the Sound Recover be moved so that the notes come out in harmony or even better an octave lower? Is there anything I can do to improve this? Or is it something that will improve over time?
What I can confirm is that yesterday I enjoyed playing more than I have done in a long time. My hearing aids definitely made the music better and because of this, I played better. I wasn't nearly as rusty as I'd thought I'd be and practising the fast-moving high bits was easier and more rewarding because I wasn't just hearing nothing. OK, it was a slightly out of key Sound-Recovered pitch, but beggars really can't be choosers.
Then yesterday evening, I went to see Paper Aeroplanes – a Welsh band – at The Lexington with HB. I first discovered Paper Aeroplanes after Shazam-ing a song of theirs and it too was love at first listen. They're splendid. And yesterday, they didn't disappoint.
Cautiously I wore my ear plugs for most of the gig, still terrified from my Pavlov's Dog experience, but for the encore I took out my ear plugs and put in my hearing aids and it was wonderful. Notes shone through, lyrics became a little bit easier to lipread and I was in audio heaven.
As I drove home along the Marylebone Road, singing at the top of my voice to my booming stereo, I marvelled at how much I love these little pieces of technology adorning my ears. I love them in a way I never expected. They're enhancing my life on a daily basis, and I'm not even at the 12-week mark yet.
Now all I have to do, is get Sound Recover at the correct pitch spacing. Perhaps I should just take my flute to my next hearing appointment.
I mean, that wouldn't be weird at all, right?
Thursday, 18 October 2012
This week I have a very important to-do list and it goes like this:
- Watch Grand Designs while drinking a beer
- Dance around the flat to Flashdance
- Iron badly
- Cook inedible boiled potatoes and eat them with lashings of Ketchup and pie
- Peer through all the windows at dusk of the houses of people who leave their curtains open
- Cook perfect basmati rice
- Fall asleep when I should be doing chores
- Seek out Gilbert & George
- Play a Fender guitar
- Cycle through London
- Speak Spanish
- Get someone to buy me a weekly travelcard
- Wander through Soho in the early hours
- Go drinking in a roof-top bar in Covent Garden
- Build a houseful of flatpack furniture
You see, when someone leaves your life, they don't just leave behind a gaping hole – although that is the thing that seems to dominate the horizon for a long time afterwards – they leave behind this amazing patchwork of experiences and memories and each person that knew them has their own quilt of them.
This is my quilt. It's well worn and loved. It's treasured and cared for. I feel lucky to have it and be able to share it.
I feel lucky it was ever made at all…
Tuesday, 16 October 2012
This month I am 32.
It seems like yesterday that I turned 30, surrounded by a wonderful selection of my family and friends at my favourite local pub, drinking rum – which makes me fun – and diet coke.
What's odd, is that that night, I thought that perhaps I may be one step closer to growing up a teensy bit. 'This is it,' I thought, as I dressed in shoes so high I couldn't walk and piled on the black eye liner. 'I am now a grown-up.'
And that night, I clearly started as I meant to go on. I was a social whirlwind, chatting to as many people as I possibly could. Introducing people by their blog names, which made a whole lot more sense that their real name. 'Oh, you're Blanco,' SuperCathyFragileMystic declared, while GBman and the Singing Swede met Gym Buddy and her husband.
I had a guy there at my 30th birthday party. A person I had been on one to two dates with, who after MUCH wine one evening I had invited to my 30th. I never expected him to come, but amazingly, he turned up, late, and ignored me for much of the evening.
But in all honesty, I barely noticed as I was accidentally kissing the hot bar manager at the pub who I had fancied since moving to the area one year earlier.
Disgraceful? Heck no, I was just being 30 after all.
The evening moved back to my flat, where I had seven friends staying. I'd like to say my memories are crystal clear, but they're not. And it's not the age that caused that, unless you count how old the rum was that I was knocking back.
Bad DG? Er no, I don't think so. I was just being 30 after all.
At around 2am, the cute bar manager texted me. I shoved my phone in my back pocket and went to my bathroom and sat on the loo.
The next thing that all seven of my guests heard me wailing was, 'My iPhonnnnnnnne!!!!! My iPhoneeeeeeeeeee' as the realisation that it had fallen out of my back pocket and into my toilet dawned on me.
I fished it out in a panic and looked at the waterlogged blank screen. My friends came to the rescue with helpful suggestions that would see me locating my sad and sorry phone on the radiator, which was off, hidden in a boil-in-the-bag rice sachet the next morning.
It never worked again… taking with it the number of the sexy bar manager – who turned out to be 22 incidentally – and a host of treasured 30th birthday text messages. Plus the number of the guy I had been dating, but lets face it wouldn't be seeing again, after my accidental snogging of the bar manager.
In one clear manoeuvre I wiped two men out of my life. And I wasn't really bothered.
But really two years on has anything changed?
I think so.
The guy I was dating was an utter prat – I don't date prats anymore. I'd rather be single.
The guy I kissed was a complete player – I am DONE with players now. I'd rather be single.
And my iPhone? Well, there's no way on earth I'm peeing on it again this year.
However, if a non-player, non-pratty bloke, who doesn't send me photos of himself with the trifle he made that weekend (DO. NOT. ASK) or talk about his special relationship with his dog before we've even had our first date (EVEN. I. DIDN'T. ASK. ABOUT. THAT. ONE) happens to come into my life, I finally think that I might actually be a little bit happy about this.
So I guess what I'm saying is that Deafinitely Girly is available for dates* (*not with people I've never met, scary stalkers or complete nutters I might add). This year I'm older, wiser and with a clean and shiny – if a little bit retro – iPhone 3GS.
Monday, 15 October 2012
So, I have been a hearing aid wearer for almost two whole weeks.
After the euphoria of being able to hear iPhone ringtones died down, it was time to get down to the bare-boned reality of life with my new ears and of course, with the smooth, there has been some rough.
Not least, because I managed to catch the worst cold I've had in quite some time. The kind of cold where your voice drops two octaves and takes on that husky tone that sounds like you've had a 40-a-day fag habit since birth.
My sinuses were filled to the brim, my eyeballs felt like they were popping out and I had a cough that sounded as though Stomp the musical was being premiered in my lungs.
I wanted a new head. And instead, I had hearing aids that amplified my every single sound. Last Tuesday I could take it no more and yanked those darn things out of ears and onto the desk. Yes, it was quieter, but I no longer sounded like Darth Vader's wife or felt as though I was claustrophobic inside my own head.
You see, the problem with being claustrophobic inside your own head is that there's no escape. You can't step into a bigger head with more space. You're stuck. But taking the hearing aids off did give me some much-needed breathing space.
But don't think I gave up there. No, no, no – I persevered through the headcold hell. Every morning last week, I got up and put my hearing aids on. I travelled to work – sucking on sweets and sipping water to keep my dreadful hacking at bay – and kept them in for as long as I could possibly bear.
I did well.
By Friday, when I flew to Amsterdam to see Big Bro, I was more snot filled than ever. I got on the plane and informed the cabin staff of my deafness, asking them to let me know about any announcements – even the 'WE'RE GOING TO CRASH' ones and sat down.
The engines fired up and I ducked as though we were under attack. The lady next to me jumped in panic and so to avoid a mid-air riot of jumpy passengers, I took my hearing aids out.
It. Was. Bliss.
And what I've realised over the last few weeks is that these aids aren't like my old aids. They don't give me so much amplification that everything sounds horribly quiet when I take them out. They just amplify the right bits. So when those bits get too overwhelming or noisy, I can whip out my aids in record time.
The only downside to this is I am getting through rather a lot of batteries. You see I haven't quite coordinated the turning off thing alongside the taking out thing yet, which is done by opening the battery case.
I should probably do this once they're out and safely in my hand, but by the time I get the urge to take them out, I'm usually in such a flap that I turn them off first, at speed, opening the battery casing and sending the small silver battery flying in whatever direction I propel it in.
Heathrow Terminal 4 has two such batteries in its check-in area now, and the London-Amsterdam flight has one, too – I think that latter actually travelled the length of the cabin all the way to first class.
But on the whole, the hearing aid adventure is going well. They helped me understand my little nephews better and follow Big Bro and his family's conversation – well the English bits anyway – as they chatted around the kitchen table.
And as I'm only a quarter of the way through the getting-used-to-my-new-hearing-aids period, hopefully there'll be better things to come.
Will keep you posted peeps.
Friday, 5 October 2012
Today is thankful Friday and whoa, where to start, eh?
Its been a bit of a roller-coaster week if I'm honest with a lot of thinking, a lot of hoping and some crazy dreams thrown into the mix as well.
Perhaps what I am most thankful for is that the way that my new hearing aids have seemlessly blended into my life.
There's none of the panic that I've had in the past of missing my old way of hearing. When I've taken them off at night so far, I haven't freaked out. I've kind of gone 'aaaaahhhhhhh' and settled down for a nice sleep.
I also wake up and find myself grinning at them, sat there on my bedside table and I've got a routine, too – they go in just before I switch off BBC Breakfast news and so far, I have been completely amazed by the difference in sound.
It's quite bonkers!
So I'm thankful for the techy peeps at Phonak. I mean, they've succeeded where no hearing aid maker has ever succeeded before. They've bridged a gap for me I never thought would be bridged. It's not just any old bridge either. It's a melodic, harmonious, bells, pips and whistles bridge.
My mind is blown.
I'm insanely thankful for you lot, too. You know who you are, you marvellous people and there'll be cupcakes for you all...
at my Accidental Wedding… in April.
Have a great weekend peeps.
Thursday, 4 October 2012
I'm writing this blog today wearing hearing aids...
I'm pretty surprised if I'm honest that I'm wearing hearing aids, because the whole of my deaf adult life has been about coming to terms with the hearing I don't have, learning to use what I do have and enjoying every little thing as my ears choose to hear it.
And regular readers of Twitter and my blog will know that actually, I've done that very successfully.
However, recently I became frustrated with myself, wondering if I could be doing more when it came to my day job.
I think the reason I got to this point is the same reason I don't blog so much any more – I have an incredibly supportive company.
They do everything possible when it comes to my deafness, while at the same time not making a big deal about it, and I guess they inspired me.
So recently, I went for my first hearing test in more than five years. It showed a death slide shape of an audiogram. One good cross in the lower frequency at about 30 and then a plummet into the land of severe and profound.
My audiologist was amazing. He confidently told me about these new Phonak Nathos hearing aids that move the sounds you don't hear into a frequency you do (called Sound Recover). He confidently told me that he thought it wouldn't affect my recruitment too much -– that sound wouldn't be too unpleasantly loud and make me fall over, which I have always had in the past when trying hearing aids.
He also told me it could be three months' wait, but he would see what he could do.
Gold star to him! I am now in hearing aids in what seems like no time at all.
'Well, you are very deaf and I thought these would help,' he replied graciously when I thanked him yesterday for fast tracking me, and so we set to work.
Now they're not miniature these hearing aids, but they are light. There's no dragging on the ear and they also are barely visible in my blonde hair. Not that I really cared about that yesterday – I was just eager to know about the sound.
When my audiologist switched them on, in the tiny silent room of the audiology clinic, everything became sharper. The shhh, chh, fffff sounds were there in a way they weren't before. I was aware of women chatting outside the closed door, and I could hear the rustle of my jeans when I moved.
'Nothing new here,' I thought, remembering my last foray into the world of hearing aids but I kept schtum and kept smiling, knowing that this was only the beginning, and we continued.
We tuned and tweaked my fancy hearing aids until claps not longer made me wince and my audiologist's voice sounded less tinny. I watched the computer screen as he clicked away and the graph showed the high frequencies migrating into the middle ones and it was hard not to feel excited and intrigued.
And then I left and bought a LOT of sugar from the hospital shop.
On the way to work, I tweeted about how everything sounded so erm... so soundy. The tube rattled and rolled with more clarity than before, I could make out other people chatting across the aisle from me and there was the constant white noise buzz, which will apparently fade over time but is there right now because my brain doesn't know what to do with some of the sound.
I began to feel overwhelmed.
On arrival at work I was greeted by such excitement, joy and enthusiasm from my colleagues that it bolstered me to keep going and remain positive while I marvelled at just how lucky I was to work with such fabulous people.
I was holding it together, and then my boss's phone rang.
I HEARD MY BOSS'S PHONE RING.
I HAVE NEVER HEARD MY BOSS'S PHONE RING... EVER!!
I froze, fingers suspended above the keyboard, eyes fixed straight ahead, before catching the eye of my colleague opposite.
'I just heard that phone ring' I whispered to her, as my eyes filled with tears, and we sat there and grinned at each other like loons for a good few minutes.
After work I went climbing with Art Man. As we left the office and went out into the noisy world, I started to feel a bit claustrophobic in my own head and while waiting for the tube, I cracked and took my hearing aids out. But they went back in for climbing and I had so much fun, I forgot I was wearing them. Better still, their light, neat fitting design meant I didn't catch them once with the rope or when reaching for a hold... Something i had don't with my previous aids years ago.
'I can totally do this,' I thought to myself.
On arrival home, I took them out. I waited for the freak out at the difference in sound, but it didn't come. My genius audiologist appeared to have succeeded in giving me clarity without too much extra volume so the world didn't sound that much quieter.
I ate Ryvita for tea (I don't think I will ever get used to doing this with hearing aids in) and then popped them back in and decided to experiment a bit.
I went through the ringtones of my iPhone – without hearing aids I can only hear the 'Strum' ringtone. I played each one, my phone not on full volume or pressed up against my ear, and I could hear them.
It was so strange. It was like the sound was right there. In my ear. And yet my phone was in my hand, which was resting on my lap.
I wanted to dance, shout, scream or hug someone.
There was sound I'd never heard before... in my ears!!!!!
I didn't stop there, I went through my iTunes library. I tried classical, which sounded more full bodied than before, I tried pop, which sounded good and then I went back to my favourite thing – listening to the iPhone ringtones and I finally allowed myself to get excited.
Maybe, for the first time ever, I'd found some hearing aids that helped me. And if I was noticing stuff after one day, what was it going to be like in 12 weeks when my brain had got used to picking up stuff it hadn't heard in years and the white noise had faded?
Would I be able to hear my flute again? My violin? Would this give me clarity of speech?
In all honesty, it's the last one that I think I'll have to wait for. I think that's the one that is going take the practice... and the 12 weeks.
But for the first time ever in my deaf life, I feel like actually there is something out there that can enhance what I hear. That can help. And because this has made me quite happy – like a child at Christmas listening to iPhone ringtones – I don't seem to be having so much of a crisis about leaving the old deaf me behind.
Because really, she's not being left behind, she's being given a new lease of life. A new, absolutely free, chance to hear the things she's pretended that she doesn't mind not hearing for the last 30 years. Better still, I know that she's still there underneath and at any time, I can go back. Take off the aids. Get used to my old world again, which I do really really not mind at all.
In some ways, I now have two liveable worlds to choose from.
Most importantly however, Deafinitely Girly's not going anywhere. I'm just on a bit of a new journey. In hearing aids. With all my amazing Twitter followers cheering me on, cheering me up, making me laugh and just being generally wonderful. And for that I thank them and my friends in the real world who Facebook-liked every single little thing about my journey yesterday.
But now for the most deal-breaking question of all...
Do my new hearing aids come in pink?!
Friday, 28 September 2012
This is the first thankful Friday blog for a while, but it turns out I have a lot to be thankful for.
Firstly, there's news from the NHS accessibility campaign.
Parsons Green Walk-In Centre is going to be trialling two vibrating pagers that will notify people when their names are called! Whoop! It'll be like the food court at Westfield, except better because this is life-changing healthcare, not a bowl of noodles.
I never dared imagine when I started this, that I would get a result like this, but if the pager system is a success – please all get sick (not really) and go to Parsons Green to test it – then it should be rolled out in other walk-in centres, and if it works there, then what's to say it won't become standard practice in other areas of the NHS.
*dances around the room*
But that is not all. There will also be some more deaf (haha, ahem… I accidentally typed dead) awareness training and they've asked me for tips.
Things that I think would help, make the whole experience better.
Now of course, I'm going to email back with my list. But I'd love to have your feedback on there, too.
I mean, here's your chance, OK only in London for now, to change what people are told about the needs of Deaf, deaf and hard-of-hearing people. And I'm pretty sure word gets around so even if you don't live in London, please let me know if you'd like me to include a tip.
It can be big things such as 'If someone says pardon more than twice, consider changing the way, tone, volume, etc of what you saying.'
To the little things like 'Don't look at the computer screen when talking' or that reception desks in front of windows make lipreading harder.
I need to know. I want to make a difference but it could be a much bigger difference with your help.
I'm going to ask older people too, plus those who've lost their hearing later in life, who don't necessarily have the automatic built-in coping mechanisms that I found I started to put in place probably from the moment I was born. So if you know any of these people, can you ask them what they'd like?
On this thankful Friday, I'm thankful for your feedback, guys. It's enlightening, encouraging and even the negative stuff helps because it can be easy to go after a goal but miss something really important.
I look forward to hearing (ha!) from you peeps. Have a fab weekend.
Monday, 24 September 2012
Ahhhhh, what an amazing weekend I had in Switzerland with First Ever Friend!
We went walking in the Alps, with the Eiger and crystal clear blue skies and sunshine as our backdrop. We ate cheese for every meal and drank tea by the gallon. We chatted until our faces hurt and ate breakfast on a brilliant train journey. We cooked, we danced to stupids songs that we both love and caught up on all the gossip we've missed since we last saw each other in February.
First Ever Friend really was my first ever friend you know. What's even more incredible is that she knew me before anyone knew I was deaf so she's one of the few people who just know me simply as who I was before.
I met First Ever Friend in the playground, aged 4. We were both hiding from the class bully, Lucy Jones, who at that age was already an unbelievable nasty piece of work.
From that moment, I wanted to be just like First Ever Friend. She was tall, with long legs and had the straightest thickest dark hair. I was short, with legs like tree trunks and had fine wispy white blonde hair...
She also had the ability to be perfectly turned out all day every day, whereas I looked like Pigpen from the Snoopy cartoons often within 10 minutes of arriving at school.
Not much has changed since then. Obviously we're 28 years older and a bit taller, but she still has the longest legs ever and the straightest shiniest hair, and is always always neat! Always!
She's also a dab hand in the kitchen and has been my partner in crime – some worse than others – since as long as I can remember.
When we stopped living in the same country, we started writing. And even after a three-year break, at 15 when we met up again it was like we'd never been out of touch.
Right now, she's got a horrid thesis to write as part of her job. I wish I could do more to help her. I wish we lived in the same place so we could study together over tea and ginger nuts and reward ourselves with walks and chats and dancing around her flat like utter nutters.
But instead I'm going to be her cheerleader from afar.
First Ever Friend, you're gonna blitz this blasted thesis. And I know you'll be reading this, which means there's just one thing left to say that should hopefully make you burst out laughing...