Friday, September 30, 2016

I just keep levelling up!

It might not look like much, but that little device takes sound direct from my phone or laptop, increases all the bits that I need louder, and puts it straight into my hearing aids by bluetooth!

In effect, it turns my hearing aids into headphones. Which is fantastic! Because normal headphones just aren't compatible with hearing aids.

I can watch YouTube, even if there is someone else in the room not wanting to watch it too!

I can't wait to ring up all my friends to see how the phone part works. The gizmo needs three hours charging before first use. Three hours is an awful long time.

Friday, June 10, 2016

How much to pay for bionic hearing?

I realised half-way through that I've written this post for myself, to help me sort out my thoughts, so please feel free to ignore it! Although if you have any thoughts I'd be very happy to hear them.

My hearing aids just aren't good enough and the NHS can't do any better for me, apparently.

My hearing is good for deep sounds but drops sharply for higher pitched sounds, especially in my right ear which suffered a disastrous hearing loss five years ago. The sample audiogram above gives you some idea, the differences between that and my own audiogram are that I have normal hearing in both ears up to 1,000 Hz, and that my right ear drops off more precipitously than on this graph.

The area between 2,000 - 4,000 Hz is the most important for understanding speech and this is the area where I have a rapid drop in hearing.

Digital hearing aids work by dividing the sound into chunks and turning them up individually. The level of fine tuning possible depends on the number of these chunks (called "channels"). A single channel would turn everything up and down; two channels would give you bass and treble.

Eight channels, which is what I have, gives you some ability to turn up the higher sounds selectively but the channels work across the whole frequency range, including the sounds that I don't need to be enhanced at all, so the fine tuning for speech isn't particularly fine. That means that I have to have some sounds too quiet because their neighbouring sounds would be too loud if that channel was turned up any more.

Sounds that you can barely hear take longer for your brain to process by about a second. This means you need people to speak more slowly. There are so many situations where I'm struggling.
  • on the phone
  • with children
  • with any background noise
  • anyone not facing me
  • anyone on my right side
  • most tv programs
  • can't wear headphones
The speaker for my aids is behind the ear, and the sounds travels by tube to my ear. This isn't great for feedback. It means that I can't have my right hearing aid as loud as I need even without the complications of the different channels. Private hearing aids can have the speaker in the ear.

I am looking at private hearing aids with 12, 16, and 20 channels. They are expensive. I mean really, very expensive. Like, six or seven bicycles, or a couple of foreign holidays.

The problem is that you're not just paying for a fantastic piece of kit but you're also paying for the service you get over the next three or four years. Which is bloody good service, I have to say, if the initial consultation is anything to go by.

The dearest aids cost 30% more than the cheaper ones. (Not the cheapest. They don't have enough channels to make a real difference to me.) I'm not sure how to decide what level I need.

At least I get over 60 days to try them out and if they don't help I can return them. I'd like to think I wouldn't need to. It would be so nice to hear properly again.

Wednesday, May 25, 2016

The Sphinx: a flash fiction morsel

You are standing on a vast sandy plain that extends in all directions. In front of you is a Sphinx on a stone pedestal. The Sphinx has huge claws and a smug smile on its face. It is looking directly at you.

You can not go East. You can not go West. You can not go South.

North is the Sphinx.

You approach the Sphinx.

"None shall pass," says the Sphinx.

"Hang on," you say. "I thought you were supposed to ask me a riddle and let me pass?"

The Sphinx sighs. "No one ever gets my riddles and I've got indigestion from the last traveller. Go away."

"That's not fair," you say. "Ask me the riddle and let me pass."

"What's brown and sticky," the Sphinx says.

"A stick," you reply.

"Wrong, it's toffee," the Sphinx says.

"How was I supposed to know that?" you say.

"You weren't. Come closer and let me eat you."

You are carrying:
a ball of wool
a bar of soap
a bar of chocolate
three cherries
a cloak

You use the ball of wool on the Sphinx. Nothing happens.

You use the bar of soap on the Sphinx. Nothing happens.

You use the bar of chocolate on the Sphinx. The Sphinx reaches out to take the chocolate but you pull back at the last moment.

"If I give you this bar of chocolate, will you let me pass?"

"What sort is it?"

"Hotel Chocolat 82% Ecuador single estate."

"Give it to me and you can pass."

You hand the chocolate to the Sphinx.

You go North.

The Sphinx speaks without looking up from the chocolate. "On your way back, bring us some antacid, will you? This is going to wreak havoc with my digestion."

Friday, March 04, 2016

Don't Ban the Hobbits!

Yesterday a friend of mine was thrown out of a pub. Not for being drunk and disorderly, or for starting a fight, or for peeing into a pot plant instead of the loo. No, he was slung out for having bare feet.

That hit a nerve so I started looking for a campaign for people to be able to wear whatever they like and found that Amazon Fashion is running one, or so it says. "Wear whatever you want" it proclaims, as long as it's stylish. Does anyone else see the contradiction right there?

There are so many unnecessary rules about what clothes are acceptable and where, starting but not finishing with our feet.

I wear men's wide leather trainers to keep the irritable nerve in my foot for acting up. In many schools trainers are banned. Mine are black and well-polished so I can get away with them under trousers if no one looks too hard but I really don't see what it matters to anyone what I have on my feet.

Not wearing a bra is also unacceptable, if you're a woman that is. Even young girls just coming into puberty have to wear "training bras" which suggests to me that many women wouldn't wear them unless they were "trained" to do so. Men with "man boobs" are exempt, because the rules are inherently sexist.

They're not just sexist against women. Men are expected to wear suits and a tie to an office job, although the tie seems to be more optional these days. Could my husband wear a skirt to work? I think HR would have a quiet word with him if his boss didn't get to him first. There are many places where a man wearing a dress or skirt risks insults at best and injury at worst.

I just don't understand why. Why can't we all wear whatever we want and leave other people's clothing choices to them?

Tuesday, January 05, 2016

A bit of fun

I read recently that keeping a picture journal can be good for your mood so I thought I'd give it a go. Anything to add a bit of colour when the days are dark and gloomy. I've got some felt tips and I thought I'd just write and doodle as the mood takes me, without worrying too much about what it turns out like; after all, with felt tips there's no rubbing out.

So far, I have "mud, mud, inglorious mud", followed the next day by "Ouch, ouch, ouchies" to remind me of the bike ride that convinced me that mountain bikes are evil. I've also got the tribute to the weather that you can see here.

It's a bit of a change from "write three things that went well every day" and I don't think I'll update it every day. It's just a bit of fun. 

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