Thursday 24 January 2013

Hearing in my dreams

Last night I had the worst dream...

It was possibly worse than when I dreamt I ran over and killed Kylie Minogue on my Raleigh Apple bicycle aged seven, which was probably brought about by the excitement of receiving the former's album in my stocking that year and finding the latter propped up against the Christmas tree on running downstairs that morning.

Anyway, this dream sadly was nothing like that. In fact recently I've been going to bed at 10.30pm and waking up at midnight, usually standing up, in a totally different room.

Two night's ago, i found myself in the kitchen. My dream had been about making toast. Thankfully I hadn't actually made toast.

But last night, I was lucky I didn't wake up in the middle of the street as I had a dream that a rogue policeman was in my house. In a scene worthy of a tense made-for-TV thriller (I know my imaginary limits here guys) I had let him into my flat before realising he was a dodgy cop. He was in the bathroom, I was behind the lounge door, wondering what to do. And then I made a dash for it - except it's quite hard to dash through my front door as it's got more locks than Fort Knox. And thank goodness it has, as otherwise, like I said, I might have found myself in my Primarni onesie making a complete spectacle of myself in west London.

Instead I woke up running across my bedroom. Running!! In a onesie. In my sleep. I can barely run when I am awake. Does this mean I actually run better in my sleep?

This sleep running away from the dodgy policeman was all going very well. In my dream I'd pegged it down the street, which didn't look like my street, to where a man was building walls with the plan to ask him for help. Except I didn't manage to get to him because I woke up, mid-stride, heart racing, after standing on an upturned plug.

Cue much hopping around the room, while trying to get a grip on the reality of the situation - me, now awake, in a onesie, foot hurting, but safe in my flat with no rogue coppers about.

'It must be time to get up,' I thought.

It was midnight.

'I must got back to sleep,' I told myself.

But my brain - working full speed on adrenalin - and foot - rather cross about the upturned plug - had other ideas.

As I lay awake, thinking over the dream, I remembered that in it, I hadn't been deaf.

This sometimes happens you see.

In my dream, I'd spied on the police officer through the crack in the lounge door. I'd heard him on his radio, listened to his chat, realised he was dodgy as hell and had a shouted conversation very successfully with him between rooms with absolutely no lipreading.

Brilliant huh?

But as I lay there in the muted silence if my bedroom, I couldn't help but feel happy for the peace and quiet. No hum of traffic, no shouting from the idiots at the pub down the road, nothing. No real hearing as such. Hearing aids safely on the bedside table.

Just me, and silence, and my bloody throbbing foot.

So tonight, dear brain, if you're gonna dream, could it at least be a good, non-scary one please? Maybe set on a beach in the Caribbean?

That would be aces.

Have a good day peeps


Tuesday 22 January 2013

When people are my ears...

Yesterday I locked myself out of my bank card.

Stupid? Yes! Very.

The company is it with have a live Internet chat service so I logged in and got a chat person instantly.

'How can I help you?' he tapped.

I explained the situation and that I was deaf so couldn't call to sort it out.

''Ive made a note of your deafness on your account,' he said, 'Brilliant!' I replied before asking him about my locked bank card.

And guess what he answered?

Yup, he told me to call a number to speak to someone to have my bank card unlocked.

I sat there, rereading our live chat on my screen, wondering how, when it was written twice for him, and he'd just made a note of it on my account, he thought me calling up was an option.

I pointed this out, as politely as my angry hands would allow and he informed me that anyone could call for me. Anyone huh? That didn't sound right.

So Art Man picked up the phone and rang. He explained I was deaf, he explained I'd stupidly locked my bank card and he explained that I was sat right beside him. The person refused to help.

Not prepared to give up, he requested a manager. He explained it all over again, he reiterated the fact that he could put me on speaker phone and relay the conversation by mouthing it to me. He was met by reluctance. So he went through it all again.

Eventually the manager agreed to put the phone on speaker and she asked me my security questions with Art Man relaying them to me. She asked me if I gave him permission to speak on my behalf and I confirmed, acknowledging that the flip side of this is that in theory, card fraud should be quite difficult.

After about 10 minutes the card was finally unlocked. She'd also given us an address where I can send a letter to authorise a person to speak on my behalf. It's that simple. You just send a letter.

That doesn't seem very fraud proof...

It was a hassle, but it was 10 times less of a hassle than it usually is because I had one of the most proactive, won't take no for an answer people being my ears.


But it also reminded me what a complete inconvenience all this is. So much so that I know I've been on the wrong British Gas tariff for three years because I can't face the nightmare minefield of calling them to rectify this. I've emailed them to explain this and they always reply with 'Call this number and we will help you right away.'

Now I know I could use a text relay service (is that what its called? I really should know) but I don't know how to, and I'm cross that this is the only option. And whenever I look into it, my brain shuts down in the same way it use to when I tried to learn long division at school or work out force problems in physics.

I need to see if this is a viable solution to my problem, but I'd also like to see another solution - an email solution.

I know there are fraud issues and all that jazz, but how do they know its really Deafinitely Girly on the phone either?

Maybe they could have a Skype line so I could lipread the person I was talking to, or even better, a simple online way of getting your tariff changed or card unlocked.

All I know is right now is I'm in my 30s and I can't do everything on my own. I can use a hammer drill, I can buy a flat, I can decorate it and build flatpack furniture. I can drive a car and, well the list is endless, but I can't get the right British Gas tariff. I can't unlock my bank card. I can't make a GP appointment unless I employ someone to be my ears and I can't even call a taxi.

I have no idea what to say to that...

*goes off to google text relay or whatever it is*

Friday 18 January 2013

NHS deaf update

Sometimes there really is no pleasing me, and this morning I couldn't help but feel disappointed that there wasn't even so much of a frost greeting me when I opened my blinds and peered out.

I have a feeling I may regret saying this when a snowy chaos descends upon central London later, but like I said there is just no pleasing me!!

Actually that's not entirely true, because today is a very Thankful Friday. Indeed, yesterday I got word from the Central London Community Healthcare bods that there are now vibrating pagers in Parsons Green and Edgware Walk-in Centres so that deaf and hard of hearing peeps know when it's their turn to see the doctor or nurse.

All that blogging worked!


OK, so there's still lots that could be improved upon, but isn't this an indication that things are changing? That you don't necessarily have to go the old way of doing things anymore? That people are willing to listen and change stuff... If you ask them nicely of course.

Stroppiness and endless criticism isn't going to make them want to change stuff is it?

So yesterday when I heard the news,
I immediately wanted to go and try the pager system out, except I'm not sick. That was last week and even then if if had turned up at the walk-in centre with my untreatable flu virus cold thing, I doubt they would have greeted me with open arms.

So this is a call to action for west London and Edgware bods - can you please, if you need to see a doctor urgently, consider my two vibrating pager locations and let me know how you got on? I don't want to wish anyone sick, but I'm like a child on Christmas morning about this development!


In other news I am also thankful for Orla Kiely who has created a wool blanket more efficient than any other blanket I've ever encountered.

Last night, in my freezing flat (up yours British Gas) I threw this blanket over my bed and hopped in and I was kept toasty warm all night with the help of a hot water bottle and fleecy onesie. This gigantic blanket is a magic and welcome addition.

I was tempted to try and fashion it into some sort of scarf this morning but considering its the size of a double duvet, I decided that might by pushing it even for me.

So instead I'm on the bus hugging my hot water bottle (concealed in a cotton bag for all the judgey people) and beaming at the vibrating pager development.

Happy Friday peeps

DG x

Thursday 17 January 2013

Missing my old deaf world

Another day, another blog about how cold it is. Another journey to work wearing my blanket in lieu of a scarf.

I'm actually typing this while trying to breathe breath rings on the bus it is that cold. Thankfully I am wearing my iPhone friendly gloves, which I got for Christmas (thanks Ma), and these mean I can type without my fingers turning to icicles and falling off.

Anyway, this week I've been struggling to hear. I don't know if its my cold gumming up my right ear or if the hearing aid is packing up but something's not right, and I don't like it.

Taking time off work to get them looked at isn't really something I want to do at the moment either so it leaves me with two options - I can either wait until this cold has completely gone and reassess, or I can take them out and go back to the world I used to function very well in.

The problem however with the second option is that I don't like that world anymore. And I can't for the life of me work out how I coped in it.

*bursts into tears*

This is exactly what I didn't want to happen.

I love my hearing aids and can't imagine not having them now, but when they're not working its like I am trapped between a rock and a hard place.

I'm trying to pull myself together about missing my old world. I mean if you translate it into a wearing glasses situation it's a no brainer. I can't see anything without my glasses but that doesn't ever mean I'd do without them so that if they broke I wouldn't feel so devastated to go back to my blurry world until they were fixed.

But I think it's just because I fought so hard to like my world without hearing aids. I spent four years blogging about it for heaven's sake and I spent a great deal more believing there simply wasn't a hearing aid that could enhance my life.

There is no easy solution to this. I know I will gradually come to forget my old world even being a viable solution to getting by and I will find the time to take off to get my hearing aids checked if things don't improve.

I will also just have to tell everyone I encounter that I'm having an extra deaf week and could they please speak up a bit, while I crank the volume of my aids up and strap my TLoop system to my head to get it as close to my aids as possible. Yes I will do all of those.

And then I will sleep. Lipreading is exhausting. Before my hearing aids, it was basically all I did. Since my hearing aids, I've had some respite from it.

Yesterday after three hours solid of meetings,I came back into the office where Man With Sweet Tooth asked me a question.

I looked at him blankly and asked him to repeat. He did. I still looked blank.

Three goes later and said in several different ways, I eventually got what he said. Mental huh? My eyes had literally given up translating for me. They'd gone on strike. And who can blame them.

As I closed them last night, I repeated something that's becoming something of a mantra for me right now, 'it's ok you're deaf, you'll get better at this.'

And it is and I will.

But for now I'm going to rest my eyes on the bus. With my ears slacking off, those cat-from-Shrek peepers are on duty today - ready and waiting to lipread my world.

Happy Thursday peeps


Monday 14 January 2013

Deaf Girly in winter

Ok, so this morning I woke up to the beautiful sight of snow scattered over west London.

From the comfort of my onesie while stood against my radiator, it looked beautiful.

I turned on the TV. Snow it seems is the apocalypse. The news was reporting that world was going to stop working bit by bit, starting with public transport.

Winter has arrived, I thought to myself as I threw on my thermal tights and contemplated the contents of my wardrobe.


However, it's not really winter that I have a problem with. I like snow, and air so chilly it freezes your nose hair off. I just dislike being cold.

I dislike being the kind of cold where your joints hurt, fingers go red, and all you want to do is curl up sleep on the very freezing pavement you can't will your frozen feet to move down.

I hate it.

So this winter I have a plan. I'm going not to get cold.

This plan starts at my feet - sheepskin lined boots, goes up my legs - thermal tights, into my outfit - 8 layers, and then finishes with my coat - long and wool, followed by a blanket, that I am wearing as a scarf.

'A blanket as a scarf?! Who does that?' you might ask.

And the answer is me.

And the next answer is 'yes, it bloody does work and I love it.'

This morning, I wrapped my cashmere wool blanket around my neck before leaving the house. Topped with a fleece-lined hat and some elbow-length gloves.

I have no idea what I looked like because I couldn't see out from the swathes of cashmere and wool.

I walked to the bus stop.

I was warm.

My toes were warm.

My knees were warm.

My body was warm and most importantly my head and neck were warm.

It was amazing.

People stood shivering at the bus stop.

I was warm.

And now I'm safely ensconced on the top deck and...


I'm melting.

I'm like the John Lewis snowman now Christmas is over.

I'm wearing a cashmere/wool blanket on public transport for goodness sake. Public transport that is so packed I have no room to lift my arm to even think about removing one of my gazillion layers.

So it's back to the drawing board.

But in the meantime, from my seat on the bus where I am radiating enough heat to warm a small cottage in the Yorkshire moors, I wish you a very happy Monday peeps!

DG x

Friday 11 January 2013

A very thankful (deaf) Friday

Hurrah! It's Friday and I've made it through the first week of my new job, albeit with a lot of Lemsip on the side.

And for that I am very thankful.

I am also thankful for good advice.

This week has thrown up all the usual issues that a new job throws up, but for me, it's also thrown up some deafness-related ones. 

You see, the longer I am in a job, the less I am reminded about my deafness – the flipside of this being, in a new job, I am constantly reminded about my deafness. 

As I get to know the role and the company, I gradually put in place coping mechanisms and develop ways of doing things that make my life easier and also help me to follow what the heck is going on.

A new job changes a LOT of that.

This week, I had a bit of a wobble. A deafness confidence crisis that maybe I wasn't going to be great at my new job if I couldn't hear. It was horrid. It involved tears, on the Victoria line platform, in rush hour.

And then Art Man brought me back to reality.

He reminded me that he once asked me if I wished I wasn't deaf. And, as I remembered the moment he asked me that and I also remembered how quickly I gave him my answer.

I didn't even think. I just said 'No'.

It's true. I don't mind not hearing. OK, so it can be challenging but it has also shaped who I am, and sometimes I think for the better.

Then he reminded me that I would do a good job, I would be fine, that being deaf didn't change anything and it would be OK.

And just like that it was.

OK, not completely, but what his advice has done is given me the confidence to know that I've done this before. I've had other new jobs. I've worked out what I need, explained what I need, and got what I need to be good at my job. 

And I've also discovered along the way that people like it if you tell them. They usually appreciate the honesty. After all, it's not fair to expect people to know automatically what you need to make life easier. A lot of the time, even I have to discover exactly what that is along the way.

And that's what this is.

Not a scary, oh-my-crappola, I'm deaf blubfest.

It's a brilliant, exciting challenge with new opportunities and wonderful experience in the offing.

And I'm ready.

After I've had some sleep this weekend. And perhaps another mug of Lemsip.

Happy weekend peeps.


Tuesday 8 January 2013

Deaf Girly's broken hearing aid?

On Saturday I woke up to discover a herd of tap dancing elephants had moved into my skull. And I hold my guilty hands up and admit this was a hangover.

I punished myself by not changing a single one of my Saturday plans. I climbed with Art Man and as the day wore on, I wondered whether I'd crossed the age threshold that brings about 2-day hangovers as the tap dancing elephants remained. As did a rather persistent cough.

On Sunday, I woke up ill.

The kind of ill where you wake up at 5am needing water and painkillers but you cannot move and another two hours pass with you laying there face down willing everything to stop spinning.

This was worse than a hangover.

So Sunday's plans were cancelled.

I staggered from bed to kitchen to make
Lemsip and refill my hot water bottle. I drank pints of ice-filled squash to bring my temperature down and I prayed I'd feel better on Monday as guess what? I have a new job people!

I started it yesterday. Dosed up on Day Nurse and Lemsip alternatively. I wheezed and sniffed my way through meetings while praying I didn't infect my new team, but really not seeing an alternative. I mean who calls in sick on their first day.

Anyway, yesterday morning, through the fug of my sinus congestion, I put in my hearing aids in readiness for the day ahead and the right one appeared to be broken. I couldn't hear through it. It wasn't enhancing anything. I couldn't even hear the start up beeps.

It was most odd.

I was gutted.

This morning however, the congestion had moved to my chest. I woke up gurgling; purring like a cat when I breathed in. Indeed, I spent from 5am until 6am feeling like I was drowning when I breathed in.

But when I put in my hearing aids, I could faintly hear the start up beep of my right one. Could my congestion have stuffed my hearing so much I thought my aid had broken?!

Apparently so.

This might seem like a dumb question but is that likely?

So today in preparation for my second day, I have my T-loop fully charged for meetings, I have my left hearing aid's volume cranked up to full, and I have Lemsip at the ready.

If I could just stop my lungs from sounding like I had a purring cat stuffed up my jumper I'd be sorted!!

Happy Tuesday peeps

DG x

Friday 4 January 2013

First Thankful Friday of 2013

Today is Thankful Friday and it turns out in 2013 I already have quite a lot to be thankful for.

Problem is I can't really write about it on here. But I can tell you it's good, exciting and a little bit scary all rolled into one.

There's gonna be some change though, but what has surprised me is that I don't mind that. Change seems to happen for a reason. Change is often good.

I wasn't always like this. As a kid, I hated change, right down to the new term or someone else other than Ma giving me a lift to school in the morning. The unknown used to terrify me. I'd worry about things that hadn't, might'nt and, in all honesty, wouldn't happen.

London Aunt always used to say that the worse things got the less I panicked, which was definitely true.

One time when I was with her, we were driving to the Alps for Christmas and I started to panic about the snow on the motorway. I was 10.

The snow fell heavier and heavier and at every gantry we expected to see a sign to say the mountain route was closed. One by one each gantry posted up a mountain route closure but not ours so we pressed on.

As we drove higher up the mountain, becoming stuck in snow, having to repair out snowchain with Pa's shoelace, I began to stop panicking and, as we slept overnight in our freezing car and it gradually became covered in freezing snow, I ceased to panic at all. Indeed if you'd have told me 6 hours earlier I'd be spending the night in my Pa's ancient Volvo stuck on the mountainside, I'd have got out the car and refused to go any further.

Oddly, I use that experience to remind myself that there's no point in panicking about future events and that should an occasion arise that needs to be panicked about, I will probably panic considerably less than if I'd thought about it before hand.

I guess what I'm trying to say is that 2013 might be a bit unknown, a bit scary but I reckon it will be what I make it. I will face the fear head on, ask questions about the unknown and remember that being me is enough.

So look out 2013, I'm coming at you


Tuesday 1 January 2013

Happy New Year from Deaf Girly

Well, it is now 2013, which is great news really as 13 is my lucky number, so I'm expecting amazing things from this year.

My New Year's Eve was spent in the Wild West Erm... Country with Jenny M. I've known her for more than 20 years now and, as we've never spent a New Year's Eve together before, this year we decided to.

After an amazing Thai meal, we finally ended up, post midnight, in a cellar club dancing to bad music surrounded by terribly drunk men and creatively dressed women. There was enough synthetic material in the place that one spark and the whole club would have burst into flames.

Anyway, as I said, Jenny M and I have been mates for more than 20 years now and she knows me very well, which is why my Christmas present from her was bloody brilliant.

It's a desk calendar that has a new interesting word every day.

You see, Jenny M remembered me lamenting about my small vocabulary on various occasions so decided to help me out.

I have quite a few theories about why my vocabulary knowledge is so pitifully small and the main one is that I lost the bulk of my hearing in my teenage years, when your grown-up big vocabulary knowledge flourishes. That said, I could have added to it by reading lots and lots of books, but I was happier not doing that, and in addition to this, I actually became quite phobic of saying words I wasn't familiar with in case they came out wrong, so instead I stuck to the fail-safe vocab of my childhood. Indeed I lost count of the number of Alevel English essays I got back with the comment 'Use bigger, more varied and mature vocabulary please' accompanied by a nice shiny D grade.

In my 20s when I moved to London I decided I should really work on my word knowledge and started trying to learn and use big words. I read my thesaurus regularly, and I combed the archives of my mind for word replacements, with varying degrees of success.

I spent ages using the word peruse in the place of browse, only to discover it actually only applied to reading through something. I got profound and profuse muddled up and, as many of you will know I mispronounced Versailles, while I was actually in the bloomin' place. It took two weeks of solid practice to get that one right and even then I sound a bit Cockney when I say it so as a result tend to refer to it as that palace outside Paris.

So yesterday I opened my word of the day calendar with glee and to my absolute amazement in the opening section was an Abbreviated Pronunciation Key, telling me how I could work out the way to say a word. Amazing huh?

And my first word of the year was Retrodict, which means to utilise present information or ideas to explain (as a past event). Useful sentences with this in please peeps?

Today's word of the day is Legerdemain. This means sleight of hand or a display of skill. So does this mean I could say Deafinitely Girly used culinary legerdemain to conceal the fact she forgot to add enough eggs to her wedding cake, avoiding having to bake 120 cupcakes all over again?

And to all the brides I've baked for... JUST KIDDING!

Seriously though, I think this word of the day thing is gonna be great.

So get ready guys, DG's becoming a big wordsmith...

But for now I'm going work out how I am going to get legerdemain into my conversational day without looking like a total moron.

Happy New Year peeps!


DeafGirly: How I feel about being deaf at work

It's been a whole year since I posted a blog on here. Life's been happening. And I guess I am no longer 'deaf in the city and ha...