Going deaf: A plug I won’t be repeating

Ever wondered what it’s like to have severe hearing difficulties? Well reporter Nick Gill went to find out by having his hearing plugged for a few hours yesterday (Friday), and entered a world that many put up with on a daily basis.

“WHAT?” has got to be the most common joke associated with hearing, or lack of it, but after spending half a day with my ears plugged, I can tell you that the subject is not particularly funny.

Driving back to work after having my hearing reduced to -40dB at Hitchin Specsavers - yes, you ‘heard’ right - I felt a little numb.

I turned my indicator on but heard no tick-tocking, no beeping as a dustbin lorry reversed in front of me and the hum of the engine seemed all too distant. But in my car, bubble, if you will, I was safe enough.

Back in my office chair I could not repeat the sentiment.

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Conversation across the room was nigh on impossible, and I found myself emailing my colleagues sitting opposite as lip reading became quickly tiresome.

I could just about hear the phone ring, but answering it was out of the question – even if I was able to work round the purple lumps that were sticking out of my eardrums. I tried not to catch anyone’s attention, for fear of entering a conversation I would not be able to partake in.

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I confess to not having the best of hearing anyway, but this scale of ‘loss’ was on another level.

It is not uncommon to suffer from hearing difficulties either, with Lee Wilson, hearing aid audiologist for Specsavers’ Letchworth GC and Hitchin branches, informing me that one in seven people are hard of hearing.

The idea of Specsavers offering a hearing service does take a bit to get your head round, but since its beginnings in 2002 it has set about making hearing aids more accessible and affordable, to ensure no-one has to continue suffering.

Mr Wilson said: “We get two types of people who come in – those who have been prompted by family and friends and are in a little bit of denial and those people actively seeking to do something about their hearing.

“There is still a stigma attached to hearing loss but it’s reducing. Younger people are coming in and having a free hearing test more and more.

“Because you’ve had sudden hearing loss it’s a little bit more dramatic what you’ve experienced, as normally it’s more gradual but you can see how it affects your day-to-day life.

“You lose a lot of self-confidence when you lose your hearing.”

I won’t repeat it but I can confirm he’s not kidding, either.

*To make an appointment for a free hearing test at Specsavers call 01462 708970 or log onto www.specsavers.co.uk/hearing

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