Thursday, 18 December 2014

Deaf Girly on the mountain

Today's blog comes from the snow.

*beams

The Swiss snow to be precise and after yesterday's downfall, there's a lot more of it, too.

I love being in the moutnains. I love how it can be so cloudy you can't see the end of your own nose one minute, and then blue skies and sunshine the next.

Right now, it is the former, with rain, which is why I am cosy and warm in the ski flat looking out of the window and writing this blog.

One thing I have done that has surprised me this week, is completely ditch my hearing aids. So I am back to being very deaf at all times. Up the mountain, it doesn't reallly matter. I can use my eyes to check if there's someone behind me rather than listening for the grating of their skies carving into the snow, and for FJM and DangerMouse, there's hand signals.

I've mainly ditched my hearing aids because when I put a helmet on my head they go absolutely crazy and start whistling like demented Jiminy Crickets. Add some sunglasses and it's just plain painful. Hearing aids and ski helmets are not for me.

The first day I skied without my hearing aids, they were the first thing I reinstated once I was back for the day. But for the last two days, I haven't bothered. And it's been quite nice actually. OK, so I haven't been able to hear what DangerMouse is saying, but FJM is doing a good job of translating for me.

What it's reminded me though is what life pre-hearing aids was like. When I had to rely on someone to be my ears and when I used to get so tired from listening, I'd fall asleep in group situations - last night I basically fell asleep on the sofa at 8pm and only woke to eat something before falling asleep again.

My hearing aids stop all that. They stop me from getting exhuasted with the effort of day-to-day listening. They give me a more effortless insight into what is going on.

So as soon as this holiday's over, they going to be reinstated. But for now, I'm rather enjoying my deaf(er) week. A week of regular naps, complete snowy silence and tech-free ears.

DG
x

Friday, 5 December 2014

Deaf Girly's Thankful Friday

Much to my annoyance, I've fallen off the blogging wagon recently.

I promised myself that this wouldn't happen – but it has.

But it's Thankful Friday and I cannot possibly neglect this.

If I'm honest I've had a bit of a tough week. Sometimes being a grown-up, and dealing with the responsibilities you've chosen to take on, is hard.

Things like home-owning for example (*leaves that thought there).

So this week, when I've felt like running to the top of a mountain and screaming at the top of my lungs about the insanity of it all, I have reminded myself that there are loads of amazing things and people in my life. And for that I am very very thankful.

There's also a distinct lack of mountains in London. And if I did go out and scream at the top of my lungs, I would either be arrested or avoided like some crazy person.

And I think it's fair to say I'm not the crazy one here.

When things are trying in life, it's really easy to think that everything is bad. And it's not. It's just one thing. OK, so it might feel like the end of the world, but if you lay everything out, and assess it, it's really not.

I remember doing this when I was about 17. When I'd lost a lot of my hearing and I felt that my deafness was the end of the world and I couldn't see the good stuff anymore. It wasn't the end of the world, it was just a gentle nudge in a different direction to the one I thought I was going to be taking.

So this week, as Friday draws to a close, I'm reminding myself that the current crap in my life will probably give me a gentle nudge in a direction I might not otherwise have gone. And actually when you think about it like that, it's a little bit exciting.

This week however, I have people to thank for keeping me sane in the crap – Ma, London Aunt, Friend Who Knows Big Words, Hannah Banana, and of course the fabulous (UTH-06:00) FJM.

Thank you. Thank you. Thank you. Thank you.

There is one more thing I am thankful for this week and that is that I will soon be at the top of that mountain and, if it's people free, I am going to yell my head off. Get it all off my chest. Find some peace with the whole situation.

Bring it on.

Have a lovely weekend peeps

DG
x



Friday, 28 November 2014

Deaf Girly's Thankful (not Black) Friday

Today is Thankful Friday.

Not Black Friday.

And I am thankful that I am not one of the people that felt compelled to queue for something I didn't need while being photographed by The Daily Mail this morning.

I am thankful that I do not need to buy anything so badly that I will lose a shoe running for it, or risk arrest scrapping with someone else because there is only one thing left.

I am thankful that I did most of my Christmas shopping last week – and still saved 20% thanks to those amazing voucher code things.

So anyway, yes, I am one of those people raising a disdainful eyebrow at the invasion of Black Friday on UK shores, especially when we haven't got the day before it to celebrate – Thanksgiving – and were not able to take holiday yesterday and stuff ourselves with an unpardoned turkey.

However, this weekend FJM and I will be doing something a bit early for both of us and putting up the Christmas tree. It's ready and waiting to be decorated and lit and to fill our little flat with festive cheer. And I can't wait.

I love Christmas. Not the shopping or the traffic chaos or the snow that one year prevented us from going away to somewhere erm… snowy. Instead, I love fact that ordinary things become festive. Things like switching on lights – not table lights but fairy lights. Or buying satsumas, which always taste much better in December. Or baking – because it's the only time of year I actually make pastry. Although my mince pies always look like pork pies for some reason.

Cranberry sauce fights for shelf space with canap├ęs to rival a wedding and wrapping paper gets more wardrobe space than shoes. Chocolate becomes an acceptable breakfast food.

And then there's the pang.

Every year about this time, I start to feel a pang. A pang that I want to spend all my time with the people most important to me.

And that is what I am most thankful for today. That I have these amazing people who I love very much.

Happy Friday peeps.

DG
x

Monday, 17 November 2014

Deaf Girly hears a baby (I KNOW!)

A few weeks ago, I went to meet SuperCathyFragileMystic's new baby, Baby A.

And she is cute. Cute in the way that I don't think I put her down the whole time I was there, unless I had to, or someone offered me a biscuit, or I was asleep on the sofa.

I love babies. Especially ones that belong to my friends, because I get to enjoy all the great bits but still get eight hours sleep at the end of it. If I ever have my own, this will not be the case.

Anyway, one of my anxieties about babies is that I can't really hear them cry. They're completely out of my frequency, unless I'm actually holding them right there, or they're in a quiet room with me, and I"m awake!

Take the time, aged 22, I babysat for London Aunt and Uncle while they went to a party next door. London Cousin 2 – a young toddler at the time – decided to have complete hysterics in her bedroom, which had a stair gate across the door and I heard nothing. It was only when London Aunt and Uncle heard her crying from the party next door and came over to find a puce and downright furious London Cousin 2, that we all realised that a baby alarm would be a really good idea.

But don't get me wrong, not hearing babies crying has its benefits. Overnight visits to friends with kids means I am rarely disturbed. Unless of course they burst into the room I'm in and actually start yelling in my face that is.

So anyway, after a long day of baby holding, I had fallen asleep on SCFM's sofa. Baby A was snoozing in her crib in the living room and SCFM was indulging in her Strictly Come Dancing obsession.

And then, all of a sudden, before I knew what was happening, I was stood in the living room, holding SCFM's three week old daughter.

And SCFM was laughing. Apparently, Baby A had made one loud squawk and I had leapt up (from being fast asleep) and picked her up and stopped her crying. Except I did all this without even realising I'd done it.

I did the whole thing on instinct. SCFM was impressed.

And me? Well, I found myself beaming. Somehow my rubbish ears had managed to tune into the one important thing in the room and made sure she woke me up. Made sure I went into autopilot and that Baby A's cries didn't fall on deaf ears.

And do you know what? I could have cried. With absolute relief. Relief that my ears worked a little bit better than usual just when I needed them to.

Amazing huh?

Happy Monday peeps

DG

Wednesday, 12 November 2014

Deaf Girly's book addiction

Over the last week. I've had a cold. I've felt ill. My face has what looks like a thousand spots. It's red and blotchy from the fast-approaching winter. I don't know whether to smother it in tea tree oil or moisturiser.

I hardly recognise myself.

Most days I leave the house with a sigh, a cough and sniff. But leave the house I do. Mainly because I'm excited about my bus ride to work.

Why?

Because I can read.

I am racing through the books on my Kindle at the moment. Currently I am reading the Unfinished Symphony of You & Me by Lucy Robinson and in my ill, hazy, emotional state, I found myself bawling my eyes out on the bus this morning.

Warm and cosy under the cream checked alpaca scarf that is actually a blanket (no really, my Ma took it off a bedroom display in a shop and fashioned it around her neck to see if it would fit the bill before buying it for me for my birthday) I was a snivelling wreck as the characters I'd come to know and love went through quite a bit of emotional trauma.

Add red puffy eyes to the mix of my amazingly unrecognisable face.

I've written before about the amazing escapism I get from reading. About how I can disappear into a world where I hear everything but don't have to have a presence. Nothing is required of me. Nothing except the ability to read the words and click the button to turn the pages.

When I read a book, it doesn't matter anymore that I am red, blotchy, puffy eyed, snotty and spotty. (What an amazing vision I am?!). It doesn't matter that my hair has taken a turn for the worst and turned into straw – fluffy, uncontrollable, coarse straw.

It doesn't even matter that by scragging it into a ponytail (How do people do those effortless up-dos?) and wearing my glasses – because my eyes are stinging from feeling ill – my hearing aids push my ears out at right angles and make me look like a cross between Big Ears from Noddy and a vagrant Cabbage Patch Doll.

Because I am IN THE BOOK.

And that's where you'll find me for the next few weeks. In other people's books and in my own. The latter needs a lot of work. And there's no better time for it.

Happy Wednesday peeps

DG
x






Wednesday, 5 November 2014

Deaf Girly and the light bulb

I have a cold.

*sniffs

As well as all the usual side effects of a cold – the nose-blowing, the sniffing, the sneezing so many times you do your entire weekly quota of sit-ups in one go – I am also much much deafer than usual.

I seem to have lost the edge of the sound that helps me get by. That turns the lipreading into comprehensible conversation.

So yesterday, I had a snuffly lunch with one of my favourite people TT. We were sat there chatting and I was getting by until suddenly I lipread the word 'boobs' at the exact same time that she did a corresponding hand movement that also looked like boobs.

I sat there for a moment backtracking, recounting the train of conversation, my mind flailing around wildly, fork mid-aid as I struggled to work out why the hell TT was telling me about boobs complete with sign language when just a second ago we'd been talking about her new flat in Battersea.

'Boobs?' I said, stuffing a mouthful of EAT's delicious Falafel salad in my mouth.

'Boobs?' TT replied, the question mark audible even with my very, very deaf ears.

'Boobs.' I said back, fighting back a snort of laughter for fear of falafel coming out of my nose.

'Didn't you just say boobs?' I continued, while doing the exact hand movements (kind of Benny Hill-esque ones) at the same time.

And at that moment there was a slight danger of TT's meatball panini being laughed all over EAT…

Turns out boobs and bulbs (as in the ones for lights) look the same when lipreading… and the dual hand action of screwing in a lightbulb, cupped around the bulbous bit…

Yes...

That.

So we went shopping after lunch to buy boobs. Still giggling like a pair of schoolgirls.

Problem is, I have a day full of meetings today. Important ones. With important people.

Please nobody say bulbs. Or anything else with dual lipreading consequences.

Such as colourful. And I love you.

Wish me luck peeps...

*sneezes



Tuesday, 4 November 2014

Deaf Girly: I'm hearing when I read

After the excitement of discovering you can download programs with subtitles to iPlayer and watch them offline later, I've been spending my commute watching all sort of documentaries and dramas.

The downside of this however, is that I have missed reading. I've missed the pure escapism of immersing yourself in a world created by someone else.

So last week I dusted off my Kindle, charged it up and set off through the books waiting there patiently to be read.

When I first moved to London 10 years ago, I didn't know anyone – except London Aunt and Uncle. I was also struggling with my deafness in the profession I had chosen. The reality of being deaf made me cry most days. All the listening and attempting to use the phone was exhausting.

And so everyday, I read for one hour on my way to and from work. My chosen authors – Freya North and Katie Fforde. Freya North because many of her books were set in London and so I'd take myself off to find the places her characters went, which meant I spent quite a lot of time in the National Gallery talking to Mr and Mrs Andrews in Gainsborough's painting (Read her book Chloe if you want to meet them yourself).

And Katie Fforde because her books were set in the Wild West erm Country – my childhood home –and it was amazing to be back while seeing it through new eyes.

In those early days, I read their latest books and re-read their old books. And in that one hour as I hurtled under London in a tin tube (I didn't hate the Underground back then), I wasn't deaf and struggling to follow what was going on. I could follow everything. I could 'hear' conversations. I wasn't left exhausted. And I didn't feel lonely.

And this week, after ploughing through the books on my Kindle I've realised that even though 10 years have passed and I'm way more confident and sorted about my deafness, I still love the fact that when I step into a book, I 'hear' everything and miss nothing.

And so, while I love the iPad and downloadable BBC programmes very much, I'm giving it up – at least for my morning commute anyway. After all, why have subtitles when you can step into a book and 'hear'.

Have a fab Tuesday peeps

DG
x

Tuesday, 28 October 2014

Deaf Girly and the Step class

Today I went to the gym for my usual lunchtime workout where I don't talk to anyone, interact with anyone or hear anything. My hearing aids come out and I just zone out for one hour. It's bliss.

But as I walked in today, there were the tokens for the lunchtime classes sat by the towel bales and for some reason I picked up a token for a step class.

I usually avoid classes – especially ones I have never done before like step as I find them so hard to follow and always end up making a complete fool of myself. And so, as I was throwing on my kit hastily I was having a mental yell at myself for being such an idiot.

The tiny optimist in me suggested that I might enjoy it. That I might follow it and that it might be OK. So gripping onto that thought, I headed into the already full studio.

Everyone had set up their step. There was very little space left. In fact, the only space left was a bit of the studio floor that was a bit shonky and that according to the instructor who was extremely bouncy and bit shouty, 'YOU WEREN'T ALLOWED TO JUMP ON'.

'But see how you get on and move if it feels too dodgy' he said cheerfully before adjusting his sweatband and getting on with the class.

Honestly, I looked like a newborn foal on acid but I did try very hard. And for that I think I should get a gold star. And what's more – I actually enjoyed it a little bit, too. I enjoyed zoning out and following the moves of the instructor.

OK, so I was about half a move behind him constantly as I had no idea what he was yelling down his head microphone. But it was 45 minutes of pure escapism. Of spoon fed exercise. Of just doing what everyone else was doing.

Has it made me braver about trying other classes? Quite possibly yes. I mean, I'm not sure I will ever try Body Pump without a friend to tell me what weight I should be using when, but Step was simple. You got on the step. You got off the step. You waved your arms around. You looked like a complete nutter.

Well I did anyway.

So if you were at my gym at lunchtime and wondered who the girl was dancing slightly out of time with no clue what was going on, refusing to do any of the jumping moves for fear of crashing through the slightly shonky bit of floor. That was me.

I looked good eh?

Happy Tuesday peeps

DG
x

Friday, 24 October 2014

Deaf Girly and the accidental manicure

OK so today is Thankful Friday and I'm thankful that it's almost the weekend.

AT LAST!

Penfold and Dangermouse are coming this weekend and we're going to do some touristy London stuff and catch up. Can't wait.

So anyway, I am typing this blog today with a perfect, brand new gel manicure in dark grey. My nails look amazing. I'm thrilled (and broke). And, it's only thanks to my deafness that I've got them.

Eh?

You see, I've never been very good (or confident) at making beauty appointments – I can't make phone calls to book things like haircuts and manicures, which means I have to go in to the salon and book things. But the noise of the hairdryers, chatter and general hubbub, plus the fact the receptionist is looking at the computer not me, makes it very difficult for me to lipread or indeed hear.

My last hair cut was in March.

I've had five manicures in my entire life. Well, six now.

But for HannahBanana's wedding two weeks ago, I bit the bullet and booked a gel manicure. And then I booked a removal for two weeks time, which was yesterday.

When I went in to book it, the salon was very busy and I was served by a girl who appeared to be a little spacey. Spacey in a way that she looked like she would much rather be chatting to her mates on What'sApp that talking to me.

I left with the knowledge that I'd booked a gel manicure removal for 6pm. The next day I received an appointment confirming my appointment for 6.30pm.

*raises eyebrow*

Anyway, once there I sat down and had my nails wrapped in tin foil pads soaked with nail polish remover. And while I was waiting, the fast-talking beautician showed me the latest colours of gel nail polishes.

We oohed and aaaahed over the shades for winter – the deep plums and browns, and the glitter ones for parties and I pointed out the dark grey shade as my favourite.

I tried to follow what she was saying but couldn't really until she started putting on the base coat for my new manicure.

And then the penny dropped.

Not only had the receptionist booked me in at a completely different time, she'd also booked me in for a whole new gel manicure.

Being me I didn't dare slam the brakes on and say 'WHOA WHOA WHOA WHOA NO! I did not sign up to this new expensive gel manicure as they cost £30 and are strictly for special occasions.'

I didn't even say, 'I'm terribly sorry but this error might well be mine as I can't hear and definitely couldn't hear your spacey receptionist when I made the appointment.'

Instead I just smiled and went along with new manicure. Parting with cash and leaving the salon with very shiny grey nails and the promise that they will last for two weeks until I come in to have them removed.

And when I do, I think I am going to take a hearing friend with me – otherwise this whole not-hearing-in-beauty-salons business could get rather expensive.

Happy Friday peeps

DG
x


Wednesday, 22 October 2014

Deaf Girly's radio rage

I have just had the most horrendous few minutes in my hearing aid-wearing life.

Listening to a song called In The Morning by The Coral.

Now, I have 'heard' this song many times before – indeed, it came out a good few years before I got my hearing aids and while it's not really my favourite song in the whole world, it hasn't, in the past, left me wanting to throw the radio out the window.

So today, sat at my desk I was aware that this was the song on the radio – I was also aware of what to me sounded like the noise those cow bells you used to occasionally get let loose on in music classes in school when someone else had already beaten you to the cymbals but the triangle was still up for grabs.

It was horrific. Distracting. Clanging. Grim. Frustrating. And kind of rage inducing. As well as drowning out almost all the other sound I could her in the office.

'What is that noise?' I asked before being told it was actually part of the song. Part of the song that pre-hearing aids, I had been completely unable to hear.

You see one of the things that makes my Phonak Sound Recover hearing aids so great is that they move the sounds I can't hear into frequencies I can. But this isn't always done tunefully.

I discovered this when I tried playing my flute with my new hearing aids shortly after getting them and almost died at the cacophony of high notes coming from what was once my most prized possession. Read all about that here.

 And it seems, after more than two years, I have found another thing that sounds plain wrong with my hearing aids in...

So the next time In The Morning by The Coral comes on, the hearing aids are coming off. Well it's either that or the radio's getting chucked out the window…

Happy Wednesday peeps

DG
x

Monday, 20 October 2014

A thankful Monday

Today's blog is about one of my favourite people.

I haven't seen him for more years than I knew him now, but he's here. He's everywhere.

Whenever I see people queuing for tube tickets or crossing platforms to change tube lines.

Whenever I walk through Soho in the evening and remember aged 15 when I was wide-eyed in wonder.

Whenever I stroll through the park and see the slightly wonky tree – the tallest of four. The strongest. A launch pad for messages heading for the sky.

Whenever I don't boil the potatoes long enough. Or when I feel the need to watch Flashdance.

Or better still, Grand Designs.

Whenever I start a chore and fall asleep on the sofa – leaving it unfinished and mess everywhere.

And whenever I'm cooking while holding a glass of wine chatting to people in the kitchen – I must do this last one more often.

People don't really go. I mean they disappear from your life physically but it's all the little things they leave behind that pepper your daily life with awesome memories and experiences.

So today, on this slightly chaotic, vaguely sunny, bother-it's-Monday kind of day, I'm thinking of him.

Big love
DG
x

Thursday, 16 October 2014

Deaf Girly sleep talks

People who know me, will be well aware of the fact that I'm a bit of a chatterbox.

Ever since I was little I have liked to talk. About anything and everything. I just like words.

I also spend quite a lot of the time I am asleep talking, too. Friends have told me this when we've shared rooms. And it seems to run in the family as well. One Christmas while sharing a room with London Aunt and French Cousin 2, we were all sleep talking. London Aunt with expletives (that's all she ever seems to say in her sleep), French Cousin 2 in French and me – well I have no idea what I was saying as I was asleep at the time.

A while ago I downloaded a sleep talking app for my iPhone. It is noise activated and so you leave it running at night and it records anything you say. But after a week of monitoring, I was disappointed that I had yet to be recorded saying anything.

So I stopped using it.

Since FoxyJM and I moved in together however, I've been more than a little talkative – much to his increasing amusement.

In the first week of our new flat, I apparently shouted, 'Fantastic! Fat penguin,' very loudly while he was still awake and reading.

More recently, I proclaimed, 'It's a process!' with what he said was a mix of anger and frustration and then two nights ago, after I'd fallen asleep ahead of him he was lucky enough to hear me declare:

'Invoices. No invoices today. Unless you want them?'

Before rolling over and face planting the pillow.

Cue much mirth from him. And questions the next morning about whether invoices are ever a part of my daily life – they're not.

I've blogged a few times about how I'm always hearing (never deaf) in my dreams – here and here – and I wonder if, because I can hear in them and follow everything that's going on, my brain can't switch off. So I talk my way through them.

I know if I woke up with perfect hearing I wouldn't be able to switch off. So perhaps it's the same in my dreams.

So now, I'm eagerly awaiting the next update from FoxyJM about just what I chatter about in my sleep. And maybe it's time to dig out that sleep talking app again.



Wednesday, 15 October 2014

Deaf Girly loves LV insurance

OK, so regular readers will know when I am not happy with a service, I often shout about it here.

But what about when I am?

Since I moved house a few weeks ago, I've been faced with all the usual life admin tasks of changing addresses on things. This has been a mega pain. Mainly because it involves quite a lot of compulsory phone calls.

The calls I least enjoying making are to insurance companies. This is because they normally have to quote a load of compulsory blurb down the phone at me that I haven't got a chance of understanding.

So a few weeks ago I emailed Liverpool Victoria (LV) my car insurance company to let them know I had moved house and needed to change my address.

I heard nothing.

One of the reasons I chose LV is that London Aunt and Pa speak so highly of them. Pa especially likes the fact they have a UK call centre. And so I have insured my car with them for 2 years.

In that time, I have had to indeed contact them after a moronic lady reversed into my car in KwikFit car park less than five minutes after it had passed its MOT. I ended up doing a conference call with LV and HannahBanana where she lip-synced with the lady on the other end of the phone so that I could sort out my claim. And LV was nothing but accommodating about this slightly unusual scenario.

So anyway, after realising that I probably wasn't going to hear back over email from LV, I tweeted them. Their twitter handle is @LVcares. And guess what? They really do. They wrote back straight away. They told me there was a live chat service on their website that I could make the address change on.

Now, I had noticed the live chat function but had dismissed it as only for general enquiries as my previous experience of these sorts of things usually don't allow sensitive data to change hands.

So I clicked the link they sent me on twitter and then selected the Chat Now button.



A chat window popped up, I entered my details and within 10 seconds had someone asking how they could help.






And then within 10 minutes the whole thing had been done. New documentation will be emailed to me within three hours and…

Well that's just it. There is no 'and'. I managed an essential piece of life admin without having to lift the phone. And I am still in quiet shock about it.

You see, this is quite literally life changing. If more companies are going to adopt a secure live chat function then sooner or later I will be able to organise my entire life this way. No more getting emotional when I can't hear what the other person is saying. No more putting off crucial things like changing my car insurance details.

So it's three cheers for LV on this rainy grey Wednesday. They just totally made my day.

*beams

Tuesday, 14 October 2014

Deaf Girly's 24 years of deafness discovery

This month I will be 34.

Sometimes I find it hard to believe that I am in my mid thirties.

Sometimes I find it hard to believe that I've known about my deafness for 24 years now.

But recently I've been reflecting on my journey a bit more. Just how I got here. Just how I became Deaf Girly.

You see, my deafness still feels quite new to me. In the same way as when you first get your ears pierced and forget you have earrings and then get excited all over again. Except I don't really get that excited about my deafness.

Funnily enough though, when I discovered I was getting hearing aids – aged 10 – my mum lowered the age I could get my ears pierced from 16 to that exact day. So soon I had earrings to be excited about and hearing aids to erm well… put in a pocket and forget about.

In my teens I was pretty much in denial about being deaf. I knew it was the reason I got exhausted from lipreading in class. And one of the reasons why I fell asleep a lot in history – the other one... sheer boredom perhaps. And the reason why I was more than a little grumpy at times. But I absolutely refused to acknowledge it. And actually I found that most people were happy to ignore it with me.

At university, I faced another struggle. Getting people to acknowledge my deafness. The special needs person was absolutely useless and it wasn't until my third year that I got a notetaker and the difference in my marks was such that I finally realised I might not be so thick after all.

Moving to London put my deafness under the spotlight again. In early jobs I played it down. I didn't tell people until I had to and I cried every day. In secret. In the cupboard at work.

When I had jobs to do that involved phone calls, I cried some more and my amazing line manager at the time used to come with me into the cupboard, which luckily had a phone and make the calls for me so no one would know I couldn't do it.

I remember at the time trying to put into words what was making me cry and realised that it was frustration. Frustration at being reminded every day that I couldn't hear. That I couldn't do have the things on my job description. Or the things I wanted to do.

But gradually – and probably with the help of writing my blog – I began to find my voice. The one that told people what I could and couldn't do. Without sounding like I had a chip on my shoulder about my disability. Without sounding like I was going to make their lives super complicated or be super demanding. Because I'm quite lucky really. My deafness isn't that demanding.

I've learnt to say – 'I don't use the phone but I treat email in the same way that you would the phone and pick them up straight away.' and I've learnt to work hard within the limitations I have and accept help graciously.

I've also learnt to laugh. Like the time I was hard at work in one of my old jobs and turned around to find the whole office empty. Evacuated during a fire alarm that no one thought to tell me about. Or the time I had Taylor Swift blaring out of my phone for a good few songs without realising it until someone asked me to turn it off or at least down.

And now, 24 years after finding out I was deaf, it's safe to say I'm the happiest I've ever been. In general and also in relation to my deafness. I have hearing aids that give me 3D sound. That give me sounds I've never heard before. Things like cats meowing and the occasional police siren if I'm lucky. And I have a fantastic quiet life when I take them out.

I have a job where I can't tell you what my direct line phone number is because I have never had to use it . AMAZING HUH? If you'd told my crying self that when I was hiding in the cupboard at work 10 years ago, I would have never believed you.

I have an amazing support network of people who will pick up the phone and be me, or listen for me when there is no other alternative.

And most of all I have that confidence that at 10, 14 and 24 I never thought I'd have.

Of course there are still bad days where I am reduced to tears of frustration over a phone call (most recently to HSBC) or because I've managed to embarrass myself in some way. Not heard something important. Or felt like I've missed out on something. But my recovery time is quicker. And after 24 years, I've got the experience to know that the good far outweighs the bad.

The last 24 years have been quite an amazing journey of discovery. An initial discovery of deafness, which quite possibly changed the path I decided to take in life. Not the end goal of course, which is the career I'm in now (with a bit of my own writing thrown in for fun) but the way I got here and the person I became on the way. And looking back, I wouldn't change a thing.

Have a lovely day peeps

DG
xx


Thursday, 9 October 2014

Deaf Girly and the lipreading mishap

Today I fell through a door backwards.

Crashing into the ladies toilets, I landed on flat on my back and found myself staring at the ceiling.

And the reason for this unfortunately mishap?

I was lipreading the person who was behind me, so turned around to hear her and leant against the door of the toilets to open it, at the exact same time as someone was opening it from the other side.

Honestly, I think she was more surprised than I was. I mean it's not everyday you open a door to find someone propelling themselves backwards at you.

Luckily she stepped aside, as otherwise I would have most likely taken her with me into my heap on the tiled floor. But as I lay there for a moment, blinking at the bright lights and feeling slightly winded, I couldn't help but reflect on just how risky lipreading on the move is.

Take the time I was walking through a car park with a friend and flik-flakked over a low wall that I hadn't noticed because I'd been looking left at my friend instead of straight ahead.

Or the time I almost broke my nose on a lamp post that came out of nowhere and blocked my path mid gossip with a pal.

And then the other day I took out a small child with my handbag due to the fact I was looking sidewise instead of straight ahead and failed to notice him coming towards me. And anyone who's attempted to lift my handbag will know it's not exactly lightweight.

As I watched the poor kid rubbing his head and wondering whether my apology was genuine I toyed with the idea of trying to explain that I was deaf. But didn't know whether that would help him, or his slightly cross looking mum, understand just why I'd nearly knocked him out.

Honestly, I don't think it would have done.

You see, it's hard enough explaining deafness to someone without having to explain all the little things that go with it. Such as walking into things while lipreading.

One of my favourite things I say that confuses people is 'I can't hear you, it's too dark' and this is true. If it's too dark, I can't lipread, and therefore I can't hear but to someone not familiar with my needs it does sound very odd.

So next time I flik-flak over a wall, take out a small child or fall through the open door of the ladies loo backwards, and it's appropriate, I'm going to explain why.

And simply say: 'I'm sorry I just (insert calamity here) but I'm deaf and when lipreading means I cannot look where I am going.'

Well that's the plan, anyway. Whether I'll be able to from my winded place on the floor, remains to be seen.

Have a lovely day peeps

DG
x

Tuesday, 7 October 2014

Deaf Girly and subtitled TV

I've recently moved into a new flat. It's awesome. For many, many reasons. *beams

Not least because there is no one living downstairs

*pauses for a moment for the amazingness of that information to sink in*

In our lovely new flat we have decided to trial having no TV. There's no real place to put one in the living room and I've accidentally put all my jewellery, make-up and beauty products on the shelf designed for a TV in the bedroom.

When this idea was first discussed my first worry was about the lack of subtitles on internet TV but so far, in our 2-month experiment of having no TV, I've mostly been pleasantly surprised.

On my iPad I can watch catch-up TV on the iPlayer app and Channel 5 app with subtitles. Giving me a fantastic spectrum of high brow and trashy television.

And on my laptop I get the following:

BBC iPlayer catch up – all subtitled

4OD – from what I have found so far… all subtitled. But the app is not subtitled. *sad face

Netflix – lots is not subtitled. But I've found some good stuff that is.

Amazon Prime – hahahahahahahaha subtitles WHAT ARE THEY?

So as you see, it could be a lot worse.

However, the thing I miss the most is BBC Breakfast news. Even though the subtitles on the TV were terrible, they were better than nothing. Live news on my laptop has no subtitles at all.

This means that I have to read my morning news fix from the BBC news mobile app instead. It is not the same.

I miss Bill Turnbull. I love Bill Turnbull.

When I was researching streaming subtitled stuff online before writing this blog, I kept finding old threads from 2012 and earlier complaining about the lack of subtitles on everything. So in two years, things have already improved dramatically.

Therefore, I can only hope that things will continue to improve dramatically. Apps will all get subtitles – with BBC iPlayer and Channel 5 leading the way. But in the meantime, I may just try and stay still long enough in the morning to lipread Bill on BBC Breakfast…

My morning routine just isn't the same without him.

PS. Got any great knowledge on subtitled TV apps/websites? Let me know

DG
x

Monday, 6 October 2014

Deaf Girly crossed the road

This morning, I got off the bus a few stops early to walk a while with FoxyJM. And after leaving him to his breakfast (mozzarella & tomato panini and an orange San Pellegrino I'm betting) I walked onwards to work.

And as I ambled, I realised, after quizzical looks from the people striding quickly on ahead, that I've recently begun to change the way I cross roads in London.

You see, since I nearly got run over earlier this year by an ambulance at a crossing when the green man was flashing because I couldn't hear the siren or see the lights as they were obscured by a lorry, I've been a lot more aware of the fact that green men are not entirely a go symbol for me when crossing the road. That actually, I need to remember my Tufty Road Safety and 'Stop, look and listen' or rather the DG Road Safety and 'Stop, look and double check for blue flashing lights'.

So this morning, that was what I was doing. I was  edging out into the road gingerly, checking all the time for speeding emergency vehicles. To the normal person, I must have looked like someone who had a road-crossing phobia – which is called Agyrophobia apparently.

But you know what? I don't care. It's better than being road kill.

I've had brushes with emergency vehicles before – and I've written about it before too – here. After that occasion I was a lot more careful. However, I think getting my hearing aids made me more complacent again. Because, I really do hear lots more with them in. And I do occasionally hear sirens too, if there's no other noises to distract me.

So from now on, if you see a girl in central London crossing the road when the green man is flashing but looking both ways at all times as if she's afraid of being run over, that's me, and I am.

Please humour me. Don't stomp over me in your hurry to get somewhere. And if you hear the siren before I see it, please feel free to manhandle me to safety.

Happy Monday peeps

DG
x



Friday, 3 October 2014

Deaf Girly's Thankful Friday

Today is Thankful Friday.

Cor, I haven't said that in a while, have I?.

So today I'm thankful that I am off to the theatre tonight, captioned theatre no less. *beams

When I think back to pre-captioned days and school trips to see Shakespeare, I shudder. Unable to follow anything, I'd be fast asleep before the first interval and climbing the walls with boredom by the second.

Theatres that provide captioning, and more importantly Stagetext – the company that does most theatre captions nationwide – have literally changed my life. Made me realise that I am not stupid or uncultured (I don't think), I just need captions to enjoy theatre.

This year, I was lucky enough to see A Streetcar Named Desire with captions, which was amazing, and Matilda the Musical. Next year, I'm off to see Cats

*beams

I'm also thankful for the brilliant people who reminded me – when I had a wobble earlier this week – that this year has been about so much more than what I originally intended it to be. People like HannahBanana who, this weekend is enjoying her last weekend as an unmarried laydee, FoxyJM and of course Mr B of Twitter.

All of these lovely people and more feature in the writing I've been doing since last October – that I started one year ago next week – in the library, surrounded by old men with their flasks of tea, corduroy trousers and very large ears.

And so this weekend, I'm getting back to it. Opening the monster document that's stored in at least 50 different places, hard drives, clouds and memory sticks for fear of losing it. And writing.

After all, I really have nothing to lose. And for that I am very thankful.

Happy weekend peeps

DG
xx

Thursday, 2 October 2014

Deaf Girly's travel chaos

I don't get the Tube to work in the morning.

In fact, there are very few things I hate more (except perhaps semolina and rice pudding) than fighting to squeeze myself into the tiny gap that remains in the tube carriage only to have someone else do that at the next station, and the next, until people are somehow contorting themselves into gaps that a dormouse would struggle to get its whiskers into.

So yes, I hate the Tube in the morning. And the evening. And generally most of the time.

This means that I get the bus. A big red shiny bus, which is normally a lovely way to travel to work. I sit on the top deck. Watch subtitled downloads on iPlayer. Read the news. Check twitter and enjoy the view out of the window. And, at no point in the journey does anyone attempt to squeeze in the gap between me and the window.

This is not the Tube.

So this morning I left for my usual journey and was greeted by chaos. The entire contents of three local secondary schools worth of chaos. Buses were terminating left, right and centre and tipping people off at the stop I normally get on. Children with just 100 metres to walk to their school (I recognised the uniform) were panicking about how they were going to continue their onward journey.

*stares at their fully-functioning feet*

And so was I as my work isn't really within walking distance.

I tried to make out what one of the bus drivers was shouting hysterically but couldn't. And when I asked someone next to me what was going on, I was met by a shrug of the shoulders.

Even the hearing people seemed to have no clue.

So giving up all hope of a bus, I set off on foot to the next bit I could get a bus from.

And there, all hell was breaking lose. Police cars were zooming by and traffic was at a standstill.

My usual fail-safe, what's-going-on, back-up plan, Twitter, was telling me nothing.

Normally it's marvellous. On the few occasions I have been on a tube train that's stopped and had a mobile signal, I've usually managed to find someone on Twitter live-tweeting the announcements. Bit weird I know but insanely useful for me.

But today there was nothing.

At my next bus stop, the entire population of central London was waiting get on. All dazed and confused that their clockwork commute wasn't going to plan. All fighting to get on the singular bus leaving once every two hours.

And it's here I'm writing from this morning. So far someone has attempted to fit between me and the window. Someone has also attempted to sit on me.

Civilized bus rules have gone out the window.

Tomorrow, I'm walking.

Wednesday, 1 October 2014

Deaf Girly's back

This week, two lovely people have pointed out that I don't blog much these days. And they're right.

Sometimes I find it hard to believe that in the early days of DG, I used to blog 5 days a week, 52 week a year. I even blogged from the mountains one Christmas when we were surrounded by snow.

This week is also exactly one year since I changed my life. And what an adventure it's been so far. But as it's been pointed out – I need to get back writing again. Especially now things have calmed down a bit compared with earlier this year.

Understandably I'm feeling a bit disconnected from DG though – I've missed her rants, her muck-ups and general every-day mishaps. I've missed her massive attitude problem too when she thinks she's not getting the best she could be. Or if she thinks deaf people are missing out.

So to help me reconnect I spent some time looking through my blog, finding out what I was doing this week several years ago. Last year, I didn't blog in the first week of October as I was quite busy moving out, packing up and starting new stuff. But the year before, this happened: Deaf girly gets HEARING AIDS!

Reading through the blog actually brought tears to my eyes if I'm honest. Remembering how I felt that day. How new and scary everything was and how, if it hadn't been for my twitter, Facebook and blog peeps, I would have probably popped the hearing aids in the drawer and continued as I had been doing for most of my deaf life.

So here it is, the blog post from Thursday 4th October 2012… the day that Deaf Girly got her hearing aids. Oh and guess what, I'm back!

Big love
DG
xx

Deaf Girly gets hearing aids

I'm writing this blog today wearing hearing aids...

Hearing aids!!!!

I KNOWWWWWW!

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?!

Tuesday, 29 July 2014

The end of NHS hearing aids?

This morning, as I was trying to stop a snoring woman on the bus from dribbling on my shoulder, I saw a tweet from @ActionOnHearing saying:


Help us keep hearing aids free on the NHS by joining our online protest!

and I was immediately filled with horror that such a service might be cut. First I responded, tweeting:

if hearing aids weren't free I wouldn't be
wearing them right now. It's an amazing privilege

Then I started to research the story more. And, with the help of Action On Hearing Loss, here's what I found out: 
  • The cuts are proposed for North Staffordshire by the North Staffordshire Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG). 
  • They would affect adults who are considered to have a mild to moderate age-related hearing loss – known as presbyacusis.
  • NHS hearing tests will still be free for these people.
  • People who already have hearing aids will not have them taken away.
  • If a person's hearing loss deteriorates further, they will become eligible for hearing aids.
  • The savings will be around £1.2 million.
I do not have an age-related hearing loss. I have a severe to profound hearing loss. I do not live in North Staffordshire. This does not affect me.

And yet, it does.

Because hearing loss – whether mild, moderate or severe – can change people's lives forever. Especially if they've spent most of their adult lives being able to hear.

A couple of years ago, I wrote quite a few blogs about my Ma. She was losing her hearing (in part, age related) and struggling enormously to come to terms with it. But it wasn't just that. She was struggling to function in a world that suddenly seemed unfamiliar.

She was given hearing aids on the NHS and I watched her go through the same process of frustration and hatred for them that my 10-year-old self had gone through. You see, not all hearing aids help all people.

According to an Action On Hearing Aid fact sheet, private hearing aids cost between £300 and £3,000. 

As a deaf person I am on my seventh pair of hearing aids. In the 20 years that I have had hearings aids, these are the only pair that have helped me. That I have worn. The rest have lived in drawers, coat pockets and handbags and have eventually been returned to my audiologist, except for one pair, which may have ended up down the loo. 

*whistles innocently

So if people like my Ma are asked to stump up the cash to buy their hearing aids, how do they know that the pair they are spending up to £3,000 on will actually help? Is there a try- before-you-buy service? Is there a satisfaction guarantee? 

I understand that the NHS cannot fund the entire country's healthcare needs. I understand that postcode lotteries cannot be prevented and that sometimes the people in charge of the money have to say, 'You know what? Your needs are not as important as that person's needs.' But if you are the person they are saying that to, and you're isolated by hearing loss, it will probably feel very unfair.

And I don't know what the answer is.

What I do know is that, if the cuts do happen, there's a good chance that people with age-related hearing losses are going to stay that way. In fact. the website Patient.co.uk goes as far as to say:

'Untreated presbyacusis leads to social isolation, and depression, and
may cause or worsen cognitive impairment and dementia.'

And you have to wonder about the financial implications of that...

As a deaf person I feel incredibly isolated sometimes. I feel incredibly stupid sometimes too, when I mishear, mispronounce or misunderstand.

My hearing aids help prevent more of that than I probably realise.

I also feel incredibly lucky to be sat here wearing my Phonak Nathos hearing aids with Sound Recover. The hearing aids that have given me back sounds like phone ring tones, cats meowing, London Aunt's doorbell and the very smallest hint of office chitchat. They are absolutely the best hearing aids I could have. Or at least they were when I got them nearly two years ago. And I love them.

Maybe there are other solutions. Perhaps, if cuts are really unavoidable, NHS hearing aids for age-related hearing loss could be leased for a small (manageable and interest-free) monthly payment. Perhaps they could be like a mobile phone contract. And actually, hearing aids are not the only thing that helps age-related hearing loss. But is there is funding to explore the other options listed in this article on Patient.co.uk?
 
But my fear is, what if the cuts don't stop there? What is the future of free hearing aids?

If I had to stump up £3,000 for my hearing aids, would I bother? Or would I make do?

Would I go back to no cats, no ringtones, no doorbells and not a hint of office chitchat?

And the sad thing is, I probably would.

I will always try and support any campaigns about free hearing aids. But I also want to know, if free hearing aids are saved, what will be cut instead? Who will lose out to make the neccessary savings?

When I find out, I'll let you know.

DGx

Thursday, 3 July 2014

Deaf Girly and Visually Impaired Lady

Yesterday, as I was rushing home to do my other job – au pairing – thinking about the sausage and mash I was cooking for tea and the fact I needed to buy potatoes, I found myself navigating the most insane roadworks outside the tube station. The pavement had been completely dug up and the usual open-plan exit that led to the main road was a thin windy pathway crammed with rush-hour travellers.

As I navigated the chaos, someone caught my eye. A lady – probably in her seventies – with a white stick, struggling to work out the lay of the land. She was walking forward, the way the pavement used to go but kept encountering the barriers that the workmen had put up. People walked on by, oblivious.

I stopped and assessed the situation, double checked she was visually impaired and then walked up to her and said 'Are you trying to get somewhere?'

'Of course I'm trying to get somewhere,' she replied, a bit frostily, or maybe stressed out from what was going on.

And so I introduced myself and explained to her that the road had been dug up and the pavement configuration changed and asked if she'd like me to walk with her a while.

She graciously accepted.

So I offered her my arm. And she took my hand and we walked together. Me navigating the crowds. Trying to protect her from the people walking into her, oblivious of her white stick. Oblivious of the situation.

I got her across the road. She continued to hold my hand. I asked where she was going. It was about 10 minutes walk from the station. I asked if she wanted company as I was walking that way anyway (I wasn't – I was meant to be in Tesco, buying potatoes) and she seemed thrilled at the idea.

So we walked and talked. She told me she was a dancer. That she'd travelled the world dancing. As people continued to bash into us, she mentioned that this was probably better than Oxford Street right now and how she hadn't seen it in years. So I used my photographic memory to describe to her the new development down the Marble Arch end. The glass buildings, the new shops. How smart it all looks. She seemed over the moon. She spoke about the glass buildings in Berlin and said how amazing they were.

I asked her if she had danced in Berlin. She had.

Amazing, huh?

I'm so glad that yesterday when I saw her outside the tube, I had the confidence to ask her if she was OK. Even if I did ask it in a stupid way. I am pleased that I managed to drag all my visually impaired awareness out of the depths of my brain to try and do the right thing. And I hope I made a difference.

Last week, someone did something very similar for me.

I was sat in my local hospital's outpatients department waiting for a check-up on my Crohn's. It was hot. It was busy. And the nurses were charging around stressed. Twenty minutes after my appointment should have been, and five minutes after I wondered if a nurse had mispronounced my name, I stopped a nurse and told her that I was deaf and wouldn't hear my name called if heard.

She rolled her eyes at me and said 'I will come and get you if you are called' and then stalked off.

'But you didn't ask my name…' I said, to her back, feeling tears of frustration welling up.

And then I felt a hand on my arm. It was the lady beside me. 'Tell me your name and I will tell you,' she said, slowly and clearly but in the most unpatronising way.

And that's what she did. And I could have hugged her.

She took all the stress of waiting in that hot, crowded waiting room around.

She stopped me feeling so alone.

It's amazing how one person can make such a difference when you're struggling. Can make everything seem so much better.

What the visually impaired lady I met yesterday doesn't know is, that's exactly what she did for me, too.

Wednesday, 4 June 2014

Deaf Girly and the Freedom Pass


Last night I stayed at Fab Friend's house after dinner and a catch up. She lives in Zone 3 and her local station is on a train line into London.

So this morning I joined the swathes of commuters coming into London at her station and tapped my Freedom Pass on the Oyster Reader.

'Seek assistance' it told me as 20,000 commuters slammed into the back of me as a result of the ticket gate not opening.

'Erm?' I thought, backed up and tried again.

The same thing happened.

I tried once more and then my Freedom Pass slipped out of my hand and fell down the tiny gap between the two barriers.

In order to get it I had to kneel down and contort my shoulder to reach through the narrow opening. Then I had to pat around in the general detritus (*beams at being able to use this word) until my fingers felt the smooth plastic of the card, and a lot of other things I don't want to think about, on the way.

Flustered, I got up and turned around to see a sea of faces all looking cross at being held up by a blonde girl grovelling around on her hands and knees, and walked off to speak to someone in the ticket office. Cheeks burning with embarrassment.

'Not valid at this time of the morning' the ticket man told me. Or at least that's what I think he said from behind the glass of the ticket booth.

'Erm?' I thought and stomped off to the ticket machine where I tried to purchase a ticket using my Disabled Rail Card. But it wouldn't let me do that either.

Neither were valid in the morning. Before 9.30am, which is one hour after I start work.

But what I want to know is WHY NOT?

Why can't I use my Freedom Pass to travel on any form of transport within Zones 1 and 6 in London at any time?

I'm not saying that I should necessarily have that right. But I just want to know why I can't.

A quick Google found this blog post here about it and these views were shared by many of the responses to my tweets this morning.

But I still want more answers. So I have emailed various train and transport people in the hope of finding out. And I will keep you posted on what I find out.

In the meantime, I would like to apologise to all the people who most probably missed their train this morning when I held them all up at the ticket barrier. Particularly the cross-looking man who looked like he wanted to manhandle me out of the station and make me stay there to think about the consequences of my actions. Actually not him. He was just mean and rude. But to the rest of them...

I am sorry. It will never happen again. From now on, I'm sticking to tubes (when I have to) and buses… and I'm driving to Zone 3.

Monday, 2 June 2014

Deaf Girly and subtitled iPlayer programmes

I haven't blogged in ages.

I've been quite busy doing other writing and of course I now have a full-time day job again, but this is most definitely blog worthy.

Last night, while lying in bed unable to sleep, I picked up my iPad and had a quick browse through the App store to see what new and exciting apps were available.

There were none I fancied downloading but I did have a look through the app updates available and one of them was for the iPlayer.

I tapped the arrow to see what the app update included and found myself beaming.

You can now download and watch content offline, with subtitles…

FINALLY!

Now, I'm rubbish at updating my apps so this could have been available for quite some time. But it's news to me.

Very welcome news.

When catch-up, on demand and streaming first became available there were no subtitles. I remember when the original iPlayer on the computer didn't have subtitles. And being completely furious and blogging about it regularly.

Then that got subtitles and the app came out. Which didn't. So I complained. Then that got subtitles and the offline downloadable programmes didn't. So I complained.

And now… WELL I HAVE NOTHING TO COMPLAIN ABOUT ANYMORE…

*beams

All this subtitling development has opened up a whole new world of viewing to me. I am halfway through a Netflix free month trial and everything I have wanted to watch so far is subtitled.

Amazing huh?

Sure, there's still things that aren't subtitled. Such as MOST FILMS AT THE CINEMA, MOST OF THE TIME. Virgin Media on demand and movies aren't either. Or they weren't when I checked a few weeks ago.

And I don't think many of the other apps for catch up TV – except for Channel 5 – offer subtitles when viewed on phones or tablets…

But things are getting better.

When I think back to my childhood. To my caption reader, with all its complicated cables. The essential sleepover item if I was going to friends' houses – not exactly conducive to light packing.

Things are so much better.

Which makes me very excited about what is still to come.

Subtitled radio? Personal captions for all films and theatre?

Captioned phone calls without any extra technology?

If any of these things are already available let me know.

In the meantime, I must get back to watching Under Milk Wood by Dylan Thomas, which was on BBC Four last night but I didn't see it.

Instead I have it

DOWNLOADED.

OFFLINE.

WITH SUBTITLES.

On my iPad.

*beams

Tuesday, 11 March 2014

Deaf Girl's mispronunciation

This morning I read a news article in The Guardian about common words the people pronounce wrong and it I was genuinely surprised that not one of the words on the list was on my list of things I get wrong.

Things like espresso, prescription and etcetera – all of which I say correctly.

It reminded me of the time I went to the pub quiz with Friend Who Knows Big Words and the guy holding it couldn't pronounce 'pronunciation' correctly and eventually FWKBW had to step in and correct him to prevent herself from smashing something in rage.

But there are words I can't get right.

Things like 'alt' that button on the computer keyboard. Should be alt like alternative, right? Not according to me.

When I was little I discovered that envelope was another word for wrap up and used it with glee – saying it the same way as the stationery until someone corrected me.

Then there was the Versailles and Marseilles debacle – read all about that here – which reminds me I don't know how to pronounce debacle either.

As a child I couldn't pronounce sausages, because it's quite hard to lipread. I couldn't pronounce schizophrenic either and once spent a whole weekend practising this – much to the rents' alarm.

But the thing is, when I do pronounce something wrong, I blush a furious red shade and feel rubbish. I can't help it. It's an immediate reaction.

So here's what I'm going to do. I'm going to get braver and learn more words I can't pronounce. I'm going to ask for help in saying words I am not sure about starting with:

Debacle
Ricin
Tortilla

Phonetic answers on a postcard please and look out for the deaf blonde girl wandering around repeating debacle, ricin, tortilla over and over to herself, with few schizophrenias and Versailles thrown in, too.

Monday, 3 March 2014

Deaf Girly and HSBC fraud squad

There is one voicemail I dread more than any other being left on my phone. It is the voicemail I get at seemingly regular intervals from the ever-vigilant HSBC Fraud Squad, urging me to call them back as soon as possible and making me panic that someone has spent £2000 on carpets in the Dominican Republic in the middle of hurricane season there.

Yes, this actually did happen on my card once.

So anyway, driving down the motorway today, my phone started to ring, disturbing the very loud playing of my music and, as I was driving, I ignored the call. A few minutes later, a voicemail alert popped up and, on arrival back in London I had a listen to it, playing it through my wireless speaker on full volume so I could try and catch the odd word.

And the odd word was FRAUD.

*gulp

So I rang them back. I misheard every single thing the man on the other end of the phone said to me. I explained my deafness. I explained that he didn't need to shout, that he just needed to speak slowly and clearly. He did neither and then asked me slowly and clearly if I had heard what he just said.

I said, no I hadn't but if he said it again, slowly and clearly, I would do my best.

So he sped up again and rabbited on about my past transactions in the hope that I'd confirm I'd spent the following money and he could go back to doing whatever he was doing before he got the girl who understood nothing on the other end of the phone.

I heard PayPal (Ma, if you're reading this, I am absolutely NOT addicted to eBay) and then I couldn't make out anything else he said.

We hit a stalemate. Me not hearing and him not altering the way he was saying it to help me hear better. Until he eventually yelled, 'CAR HIRE. HAVE YOU BOUGHT CAR HIRE?' And hurrah, I understood him.

And you see, I have indeed bought car hire. For skiing. Later this month. And because I am a moron and forgot to check with Big Bro about Geneva car hire and whether you should get it from the French or Swiss side, I got it from the wrong side so had to cancel and rebook the car. So in the space of half an hour money was flying on and off my credit card quicker than a panic buyer at a Mulberry sample sale.

'YES!' I yelled back, joyfully. 'I did hire a car. TWICE and then I cancelled one. And then I went to Sainsbury's and bought lunch on my credit card, which only cost £3.50, which I know is a ridiculous amount to put on a credit card, but that's the other payment.'

But it turns out that's not really what HSBC Fraud Squad are bothered about and happy that I was the actual idiot who was buying multiple car hire on my credit card and it wasn't some criminal, he hung up on me.

Until next time that is...

*cuts up credit card*


Thursday, 27 February 2014

The not-hearing person in the room

I'm a chatterbox.

I love everything about interacting with people. The chitchat and the jokes, the way you slowly get to know people through snippets of conversation.

And most of the time I am happy with my version of that. My version, which is much more one-to-one than group, which is much more engineered and controlled by me, which is much more saying 'What was that?' to a trusted person so they can relay what I have missed to me and make me feel a part of what is going on.

But the thing is, sometimes this really bothers me.

I can sit in a room full of people and they're all chatting, catching up, learning about each other, getting to know one another in the way you do when you spend eight hours a day with each other, and I am not a part of that. Not without looking up, stopping the conversation, asking for someone to tell me what's going on. And of course, people are always happy to do this. But I just wish they didn't have to.

There are lots of things I don't mind about my deafness. I don't mind not hearing babies crying or police sirens and fire alarms. I don't even mind that much that I cannot make phone calls to British Gas.

But what I do mind is that sometimes it seems that I don't belong in a room full of people. Like it looks that I don't make the effort to get to know people. Because I cannot get to know people in the usual way.

It means that a conversation with me often goes one of two ways. Either it's all about me so that I can control the subject matter and guess what's being said. Or it's me firing questions at someone. Neither convential ways of building friendships.

One of my Twitter followers once said to me that if you're deaf, people will always tell you if the building is burning down but they won't tell you their secrets. And I get what she meant. Except it's not the secrets I want. It's the mundane facts about other people. What they're cooking for tea, what they're having for lunch and what this song on the radio – which I cannot hear by the way – means to them.

Wonder if I could get a voice-activated live subtitling screen here?

That'd help wouldn't it?

And until then, get ready for DG's 20 Questions – because that's all I've got for now.

DG
x



Monday, 17 February 2014

Deaf Girly's deaf day

Since I got my hearing aids, I rarely have days where I am constantly reminded of my deafness... but today, so far, has been one of them.

This morning I slept through my alarm – in the night I had somehow switched it from vibrate to beep and the beep went on... and on... and on... without me knowing it was going until the cat eventually came and stomped on my head to get me to shut it up.

On the tube there were delays and a lot of stopping and starting. In my head I knew it was red signals and the ancient trundling trains struggling to get in sync for the day, but my ears provided no reassurance of this as I failed to pick up even a little bit of what the tube driver was saying over the tannoy.

I arrived in town and headed into a supermarket to buy some fruit and breakfast. Wandering around the shop in a sleepy daze I headed to the self service till so that I wouldn't have to hear what the cashier was saying, but instead a shop assistant grabbed my stuff and put it by the till, saying something to me I couldn't hear. She repeated it again and then a third time until eventually she just pushed me out the shop. It was then I realised, looking at everyone else leaving the shop and the fire engine that was arriving that there was clearly a fire alarm that I hadn't heard.

I was so embarrassed I wanted to cry.

It wasn't the usual hilarious mishearing mishap I usually have. It was just incredibly mortifying.

Today is a hair up and glasses day – decided by the fact that I slept through my alarm clock. As I stepped into the mirrored lift, I caught sight of my hearing aids struggling for space alongside my glasses behind my ears and wanted to cry.

And then I got a grip – after all, there's a lot worse things in life than not hearing a fire alarm – such as no one telling you there's a fire alarm. There's a lot worse things than not hearing the tube driver – I believe that even hearing peeps struggle with that. And as for my alarm clock – well, if a hearing person sleeps through their alarm, they don't really have the amazing fabulous excuse that I have.

After all, you can't really argue with deafness.

Happy Monday peeps.

DG
x

Friday, 7 February 2014

Deaf Girly's Friday fall

Well, it's Friday, which is always the day where I have a quick think about all the things I am thankful for and this morning, getting eight hours sleep was top of the list.

The morning started well. I made coffee, I showered, I got ready for the day ahead, which meant firing up my laptop and answering emails. And then I went down to get my breakfast – 2 pears and a mug of black coffee.

In the kitchen was a man from a kitchen company measuring and planning London Aunt's kitchen as she's thinking of having it redone.

'Hello,' I said, introducing myself, 'Are you the man from XX Kitchens?'

'Erm, no,  I'm from the XX Kitchens,' ,' he replied, naming a competitor.

*blushes

Silenced by my slip-up, he tried to make conversation, which I couldn't hear as he was facing the away from me and had no idea I was deaf. It was a bit of a car crash as I misheard him over and over again. I was also probably coming across as a bit distracted, too. Which on reflection I was, as in my head I was mentally plotting my quick escape.

I hurriedly washed the pears under the tap, cut the tops of them and whacked them on a plate. I filled my giant Starbucks mug with coffee and I bid him farewell as I walked up the two steps that lead out of London Aunt's kitchen, looking back to lipread his reply.

And then CRASH! I fell over. Foiled by the second step.

In the absence of a free hand to put down, I face planted the floor. The contents of my giant Starbucks mug of coffee went airborne and my two pears were catapulted in different directions. One actually went flying through the air, coming to a rest at the feet of the kitchen man who by now was probably planning how he could get the hell out of there, too.

He said something. I have no idea what it was. He picked up my pears. Lets not dwell on that euphemism and, after mopping up the vat of spilt coffee and nursing my scalded hand, I made a run for it to an upstairs room where I am currently hiding. Typing this blog. With Homes Under The Hammer on in the background.

The pears were bruised and one was poached in hot coffee. I wouldn't recommend it.

So what am I thankful for on this Friday? Well I guess that things actually happen to me. After all it would be a terribly dull life if nothing eventful EVER happened wouldn't it?

So with my slightly burnt hand, my coffee poached pear and my bruised ego, I bid you a very happy weekend peeps.

DG
x


Monday, 27 January 2014

Tracking my deafness

Since the moment I found out I was deaf, aged 10, I have always tracked my hearing loss by what I heard yesterday, last week, last month and least year. Sometimes the results are heartbreaking.

When I was 10, I could still hear the phone ring and on occasions the cat meowing. By 16, I could hear neither. At 12, I could still listen to The Archers (I was a very hip and trendy kid you know) and watch some TV without subtitles, by 16, I could do neither. From 16 to 18 I watched sound slide out of my reach in the most alarming manner. My flute became largely silent, and I was left with no choice but to give up my violin.

When I got my posh car in 2005 with a radio that worked without the need to keep a wooden stick on the passenger seat to bash it with, I could hear it on volume 23. By 2012 I needed volume 40-something and drive through the streets of west London like the deaf granny in the Specsavers hearing aid advert.

And then I got hearing aids, which gave me sound back like never before.

Post hearing aids, I have gradually been adding to the list of things I can hear.

Cats meowing: tick

Telephones ringing: yup, some of these, but not all.

The burglar alarm: NOPE, I STILL CAN'T HEAR THIS, AND HAVE BEEN KNOWN TO HAPPILY WANDER AROUND THE HOUSE WITH IT GOING OFF WHILE EVERYONE ELSE GOES MENTAL

The doorbell: yup, can hear this.

So recently, I was surprised when this Things-I-can-hear-with-my-hearing-aids list started to change again.

The cat meowing: Not always, much to her annoyance.

The doorbell: Not always, much to everyone else's annoyance.

Telephones ringing: If I hold them up to my ears, which is not really the most practical thing to do and gets weird looks from people if you're out and about.

So what's changed? Is it my ears? My hearing aids? Or that thing GPs always claimed caused my deafness before looking inside my ears and realising it didn't: WAX...

I'm not sure which one to check first...

Any advice peeps?

Love deafer DG
xx


Friday, 24 January 2014

DG's thankful Friday

The other day when I was in the dry cleaners, absolutely not dropping in a Burberry mac I got for a bargain price on eBay because I absolutely do not need another coat (*whistles innocently), I read a thought for the day on the counter that made me stop and think.

I'd had a trying week. The usual neighbour dramas, unhappy tenants, general shit piling on top of me and apart from the Burberry coat (because I really needed another coat), I was feeling a little bit down in the dumps. Until I read the following:

If you're feeling down about everything in your life and can't see the positives, just imagine how you'd feel if everything in your life was taken away. All of it. Then imagine how you'd feel if you got the whole lot back.

And that told me.

Because really, apart from a neighbour with issues, who is really not my problem, I should really be bloomin' thankful for everything in my life.

At the end of last year, I made the decision to change my life quite a bit. And that decision has opened up some amazing doors that I never expected to open.

At the end of last year, I decided to write and see what happened. That is exactly what I am doing.

At the end of last year, I decided that I would say yes to things I might have otherwise said no to and see what happened. That is exactly what I am doing.

And at the end of last year, I made a promise to myself that 2014 would be different. And that, it certainly is.

So you see, on this Thankful Friday, I guess I am thankful for that Burberry coat that took me to that dry cleaners where I read that thought for the day that kicked me into check in the 2nd week of January and reminded me of what it's all about.

I am thankful to the amazing people who are making this amazing year possible.

And I am thankful to Deafinitely Girly. As she's the reason I'm sat here right now.

Have a fab weekend peeps.

DG
x

Monday, 20 January 2014

No blog name needed

Sometimes it's the easiest thing in the world to find a blog name for a person I want to write about. Since I started this blog, I've had to think up quite a few names. For people who're always in my life such as The Rents, Big Bro, SuperCathyFragileMystic, Fab Friend, The Singing Swede and Friend Who Knows Big Words to more fleeting visitors who get their blog names and lose them again just as quickly.

But tonight as I write this blog post, I realise that I don't have a blog name for someone who, when I was growing up was a massive part of my life. Someone who, until Friday, I couldn't quite imagine not being here.

And then on Friday she died. And I don't have a blog name for her.

So who was she?

Well, she was one of my ma's first work colleagues. They taught together and she knew both me and and Big Bro from the moment we first arrived in the world.

She lived down the road and drove a Morris Traveller that she still has now.

She always had a jar of Lime Marmalade in her fridge and I always had some when I was there, even though I didn't really like it. I just liked the idea of it.

The fridge was the ultimate toy in her house. It was giant and covered from top to bottom with fridge magnets that could be arranged by colour, size or animals all in a line, marching in a parade up and down around the other colourful plastic creations from all four corners of the world.

Her house was a fantastic place to play. There was a caravan in the front drive and in the back garden a giant sandpit that was once an outdoor pool. 

There was also a sunroom with a Russian doll that shed its layers bit by bit until only the tiniest dolly was left. As a kid, I was allowed to take it apart and line them all up on the window sill if I promised to make sure I didn't lose a single layer.

And there were always dogs. Labradors and retrievers. And puppies who were going to become guide dogs. 

Last summer I was lucky enough to see her and her husband when a visit to The Rents coincided with a visit from the two of them, too.

We went on a day trip to an airfield and watched the planes come in an out as I heard all about his amazing escapades as a cameraman, travelling the world.

When I started writing this, I was trying to work out what blog name she would have liked. Something to do with her involvement with The Guides? Her Morris Traveller? Her tireless work for Guide Dogs for the Blind? The lime marmalade? The fridge magnets?

And then I realised that perhaps she doesn't need a blog name. Perhaps she should just be here as Aunty Eileen, which is what she was to me. Or actually more of a surrogate grandma. Stern enough to make sure I wasn't going to draw on her walls in felt tip as a kid, practical enough that she could tell me to pull myself together, but a very good giver of hugs, too.

I'm so happy that I got to see her last year. So happy that I got to tell her some of my plans.

But I am sad too. Sad for Ooge – her fab husband who does get a blog name, her family and my ma.

My ma who I know if Aunty Eileen was here would give a firm hug to and tell us all to pull ourselves together.

She was practical like that.

So instead of being sad, I'm going buy some lime marmalade and rearrange London Aunt's fridge magnets and wave at the first Morris Traveller I see. 

Thanks for the memories Aunty Eileen. I'll miss you.

DG
x