Category Archives: Doctors

Adventures in Audiology

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?

NHS Appointnent lines – Patient choice?

I have been referred to a consultant based at a hospital in Bristol. Cue the merry-go-round. I received a letter informing me that I should call a number to arrange a ‘mutually convenient time’ for the appointment, but that if I failed to call, I would be taken off the list. So I called. And called. And called. Every time I got a message saying that I should leave my name, number and patient ID and they would call me back. I’m deaf. I’m using text term on my computer just to place this call. I’ve no idea how to receive calls on this thing, or even if it can. Just pick up the phone, damn you. In the end, it took five days and several calls at various times of the day before I finally reached a real person. We arranged a time. Friday 10th September. Fine.

A few days later, I receive a letter saying that they have had to change the appointment time, and it is now on Thursday 9th Sept. What was the point of all that, then?

I HATE THE NHS APPOINTMENTS SYSTEM. Just send me a letter and I’ll let you know if it’s not convenient. What was wrong with that system? Why make it so complicated and un-deaf-friendly? If this was done in the name of patient convenience then I’m sorry to say…

You’ve failed.