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?!

Deaf Girly: Finding the good in my deafness

Most regular readers of this blog will know that I'm pretty comfortable with my deafness in the workplace these days. I've got a...