A friend of mine was due to attend an audiology appointment. On arriving, she discovered that she had been branded a ‘troublemaker’ for making some comments on her last visit, and for asking the audiologist questions about how much they knew about the deaf community. As predicted, she had a great time arguing with the nurses over the audiology department’s access for deaf people. As amusing as reading her facebook updates were, it put me in mind of some of my own previous adventures…
I arrive at audiology reception. the receptionist barely looks at me, and addresses the computer. Eventually, I remind her that I’m deaf and I have to lipread. She looks at me blankly as if seeing me for the first time and asks me to take a seat.
A young, fresh-out-of-the-stables audiologist has to take a mould of my ear for a new earmould. The process basically involves putting a small sponge on a thread in my ear, right next to the eardrum, and filling my ear with putty. The polite thing to do with the sponge is push it gently down the ear canal with the little ear torch thing, in one smooth flowing movement, stopping when it meets slight resistance – the eardrum. The thread is then arranged just so and the putty stuffed in. What does this one do? She jabs the sponge in, millimetre by millimetre like a little woodpecker – jabjabjabjab and just as I’m about to mention that I think she’s getting near the end and could she take it easy, she suddenly, apparently thinking she’s clearly not doing this fast enough, does a slightly bigger jab – and hits the eardrum. Owwwwwww! For the love of…
And last, but certainly not least, I’m at the audiology drop-in to have a problem with my hearing-aid sorted out. I’m sitting telling the nurse how the hearing-aid is misbehaving, and I’m not sure if it’s me or the hearing-aid. She says ‘All right then, let’s have a look’ and just like that, reaches out and tries to grab my hearing-aid off my ear.
I jerk back in surprise, but too late, she’s already got a grip on it, and ends up pulling the hearing-aid and tubing off, leaving her holding a whistling, protesting hearing-aid and me with the earmould still in my ear. I looked at her in shock for a moment, and she actually seemed surprised at my reaction. I calmly explained that usually, people let me take own hearing-aids off and “seriously, it’s like taking someone’s glasses off”. I’m not sure she really understood the severity of what she’d just done, but accepted that I hadn’t liked it, for whatever reason. The reason is this – those hearing-aids are mine. They’re as much a part of my personal space as my glasses. If you want to look at the damn things, ask me first, and I’ll take them off. Simple as. DON’T GRAB THEM!
This is just a small sample of my experiences with audiology departments, and frankly I think I’m going to have to stop here ’cause I’m getting flashbacks.
Do they not train these people?