Wednesday, 31 May 2017

Say, "No," to Speech Fog.

Say, “NO,” to Speech Fog.

I hear sounds in a noisy world but I wear two hearing aids.  Why?  Because without my hearing aids there are some sounds that I am unable to hear or have difficulty hearing. This means that I often mishear words which makes following conversation difficult. I think of it as Speech Fog.  I can hear people talking but the words lack clarity - rather like looking at shapes in fog or through a net curtain. 

I ‘managed’ without hearing aids for years.  I used to blame others for mumbling or not speaking clearly.  I blamed the sound on the television for being poor.  I blamed my husband for speaking to me when his back was turned or when he was in another room.  I blamed the noise in cafés and restaurants for drowning out speech.  I blamed the traffic on the roads.  In fact I blamed anything and everyone when I could not make sense of some of what was being said.  I could hear sounds so what was the problem?

My mother had a hearing problem and wore a hearing aid.  She told me that blaming others for mumbling could be a sign that I had hearing loss.  She arranged for me to have my hearing tested in 1992.  I was told I had high frequency hearing loss but I did not understand what this meant and was offered no explanation or help.  My mother looked at my audiogram and said my hearing was not bad enough to warrant having a hearing aid.

I carried on with my life, knowing my hearing was not perfect but I ‘managed’ - on the whole - or thought I did.  Ten years ago a friend told me that people who cannot hear properly should do something about it because it is frustrating for people who can hear to have to keep repeating things for them.  I was angry at first but on reflection decided to see my GP who arranged for me to have another test.  The audiologist who performed the test told me she thought a digital hearing aid would help me to understand speech better.  I was totally unprepared for the WOW moment when my first hearing aid was fitted.  The difference was amazing. I was offered a second hearing aid at my follow up appointment and I experienced a second WOW moment.  Two are definitely better than one - for me.

My hearing aids do not make my hearing perfect but they do make a huge difference to my life.  It is only when I take them out at night (and the ‘fog’ descends) that I now realise what I was missing in those intervening years. Hearing loss often develops gradually and we can be unaware that it is happening.  We know when we cannot see well enough to read and - often reluctantly - agree to wear spectacles.  We are often less aware that our hearing is deteriorating and are even more reluctant to address it.  It seems no one wants to wear hearing aids.  I am happy for people to see mine.  For me they are proof to others that I have a problem.  I have found most people to be accommodating and helpful.  

My friend was right. It is frustrating trying to communicate with people who cannot hear well. Not only has my life been transformed but so has my husband’s.  If you can hear but, often mishear words and can identify with any of the situations above perhaps you could try hearing aids and maybe have a WOW moment of your own.  What have you to lose?  
Say, “NO,” to Speech Fog.

To get some idea of what it means to have mild hearing loss see here:

Happy to ‘manage’ without hearing aids?  Check this out:

Some Clinical Commissioning Groups (CCGs) want to deny NHS hearing aids to all with ‘mild’ hearing loss and many with moderate hearing loss.  See my open letter to CCGs in support of hearing aid provision on our NHS here:

31st May 2017 
Kathleen Hill
Action on Hearing Loss (Formerly RNID) Volunteer
Member of Wyre Forest Patient Participation Groups (PPGs)
Member of NHS Wyre Forest CCG Membership Scheme

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