How Would You Like To Be Called?

I had been anticipating my ENT appointment for months now and finally this day had arrived. But, what a day?!

To begin with, I had been a regular patient at my local audiology department but when we last phoned for another appointment – I was notified I had to be referred back to audiology by visiting my GP, to ask to be referred to ENT who would then put me back through to audiology. What a palaver but if I needed new ear moulds and hearing aids then so be it. I persevered.

Going through the broad spectrum of emotions and thoughts, as I decided I needed to be there at least twenty minutes early to claim a prime position, in the waiting room – close enough to scan lip movements for any names being called out. I had clarified with the receptionist if they would be calling out names, she confirmed this and that she would let them know I was hard of hearing. I explained that I was deaf to reinforce just how profound my hearing loss is. “Oh ok, same thing” she replied. I had to remain calm and took my seat albeit feeling rather surprised.

“Mumble Mumble” started off the processing by the nurses and trainee doctors. Feelings of dread were not appeased nor swayed when I noticed this LED display board to one side welcoming patients;

“Welcome to ENT you will be called through to see a member of the ENT team”

IMG_0966

My GP’s surgery has the same sort of contraption except they use it to announce patients’ names on it, for a certain designated room to be seen by Dr X or Y. So relatively I wondered why the ENT and Audiology departments despite being specialists, could not implement the same quality of service to be inclusive of all. Digital technology in this day and age has advanced greatly but not in our NHS hospitals it seems. This needs to change for the better, for their sake and ours. After all, they did ask how patients wanted to be called.

How would you like to be called?

How would you like to be called? On the screen in ENT.

A Tree House dweller informed us that he once had a placard with his name on it whilst waiting for his appointment, much to the other patients’ amusement at the time. Unfortunately that is how appalling services can get and this is what he felt he had resort to in order to be seen.

I was now sensing the other patients in the ENT waiting room were becoming restless, demanding to know when they would be next seen and this poor nurse was trying to appease them. By this time I had managed to pull myself together from feeling quite annoyed at being passed to audiology and then back again to ENT not knowing why or if I would be seen, if at all. If they were getting angry at being delayed by mere minutes, I thought to myself how should I be feeling only to be made to wait potentially a few months extra for my new ear moulds and hearing aids after waiting months already, especially in such an environment?! I decided I was not going to let them feed me any negativity and found some inner peace to remain patient.

Patience is a virtue.

Patience is a virtue.

From not the usual place names were being called out (the doors in the photo above) but further to the side – I just about saw my name, whilst glancing, being clearly spoken. My turn – Glee and amazement at catching that! I had the consultant this time around who was particularly interested in my family’s history of deafness – why they were deaf, how and if my children were “ok”. He then enquired how my hearing aids were. I mentioned I had had them for about ten years now and the last time audiology tried to provide me with a new pair they did not suit me so handed them back hence why I was now eager to try again as my current ones were starting to become slightly temperamental. I am also scared of being left stranded with nothing to hear with. He explained to me that any new pair of hearing aids is most likely not going to suit me based on my audiogram so he is ordering a head scan to find the biological cause of my deafness since my mother was born deaf – cause also unknown and my father became deaf through meningitis. He was especially interested in my mother’s deafness and if she could talk well. “Yes” I replied, “Just like I can”. The consultant then expressed. “I would like to put you down for a cochlear implant if the new hearing aids do not work for you”. Instantly emerged a brand new, never experienced before emotion and it is one I cannot find the words to describe.

As my consultant returned me to the audiology’s waiting room and found me a seat; I thanked him for his time. Suddenly I found myself dismayed, wondering why I was once again back in Audiology! Recurring feelings along the lines of, “Do they know I’m here / am I in their queue?” I scanned once again for any names being called out. Whilst scanning one caller, I had not noticed another came out to call but noticed she had gone into reception to make a query about this piece of paper in her hand. She came back out and said… My name – Glee once again! Phew, that was a close call I determined– I had missed that first time around because I only have one pair of eyes.

Ear moulds casts were made and she too concurred that the new hearing aids might not work very well for me due to the “different new sounds” they would make. But as anticipated I was going to have to wait at least two months more for another appointment to get and try out these new hearing aids. If only they had seen me when we first called as I was already a patient then, I would not have had to wait so many months more. She understood my frustration and said she would try to get something earlier.

A cochlear implant? Me?! I must admit though being an honest person, if I hadn’t written this article regarding cochlear implants I most probably would not have been as open to the idea. One thing I do know at this point in time is that I am not looking forwards to the realisation of being left with less than adequate hearing from prospective replacement hearing aids – my current ones have lasted me for so long and they will not always continue to serve me well. Remaining positive though that the new pair will work just the same or better and if not, perhaps the next steps are meant to be. I would very much prefer to have the same quality of sounds or better – not less. Just as you would expect a replacement PC of the same specifications or upgrade to better specs.

Does this mark the beginning of what could be the next stages in my journey? Only time will tell and more patience once again. Upon reflection, I realised that by asking patients to be referred through all over again it was giving the consultants a chance to catch those that may have filtered through first time around and a chance to produce a more updated yet better care?

Going back to the title of this article, “How would YOU like to be called?” Be the change you wish to see so start that ripple effect by being courageous and letting your GP’s surgeries, Audiology and especially the ENT departments know, just how THEY can be more inclusive and improve their services.

Carpe diem!

~ SJ (Sara Jae)

(Update: A few months after sending this to the hospital and relevant parties concerned, I returned to ENT to find their digital screen as photographed, displaying patient’s names as they were being called… Result!)

A funny thing happened on the way to ENT….

A compilation of humorous moments – just to make you, the readers smile and laugh – after all, it is free and does wonders. I very much hope that you too will enjoy reading this and be laughing with us. For those who smile and laugh, it will be “mission accomplished” 🙂

Conche ear trumpet

An antique hearing aid made using conch shell.

One day while they were shopping in a stationary / gift shop, Steven’s daughter, Georgia,  asked him “Dad, does this mean you now have a magnet in your head?” (who recently had a cochlear implant operation) She then proceeded (without him looking) to whack a fridge magnet on the side of his head!

This instance reminds us of this photo which a member captioned his thirty grand fridge magnet. 

Gillian explains while it’s not really funny but, the first thing that comes to her mind is many years ago when her two year old toddling son, toddled round her bed one morning, picked up her hearing aid off her bedside table and innocently plopped it into her cup of tea. Which taught her to always put her hearing aid away out of sight whenever she was not wearing it!

“Damn auto correct” has often been the bane of humorous moments yet there is a balance which is mishearing, for example as Gareth explains. He once drove his wife and her 22 year old daughter, past a supermarket development. They were discussing the golden crested newt which was delaying the development. He exclaimed, “What do you mean by, golden prostitute?!”

LOL

Sara would very much like her tinnitus to turn itself off at the button of a remote control… It seems to have its own mind. Though, for some it must be better than hearing voices inside one’s head? Perhaps. She was one day sitting at a pc when she heard a voice thus startling her. She got up and looked around her home but there was no one else home so she went back onto the pc, perplexed. Until, she heard the voice – again?! This was starting to make her feel rather spooked – she just had to check her home once again. For her peace of mind….. Still, no one else was to be seen…. But, soon the voice came back?! “It’s three o’clock”

“Damn you talking clock!” She exclaimed at the pc for spooking her like that. Someone had installed it and she did not know it.

Once, Robin suddenly heard unusually loud explosions and shooting?! He thought a fecking war had broken out right outside his front door!

Can you just imagine?? Sara wandering around the house thinking she is going nuts, hearing voices and Robin is ducking and diving for cover! Well, he actually rushed out of his seat, looking out the window, eyes wide with confusion! It was actually a preview trailer for some action movie which had started playing away by itself on the other tab of his internet browser.

LOL

Gillian also remembers once when she was in a hairdressers and whilst sitting there having her hair cut, she noticed in the mirror that there was a sudden buzz of activity as two or three of the girls were hovering around her chair looking rather worried and checking all the electrical appliances. This went on for a few minutes until her hairdresser informed her that there was a funny noise originating from her handbag….. Bet you can’t guess what it was?!

She had taken her hearing aid off before having her hair washed and put it in her handbag. She had forgotten to switch it off or didn’t switch it off properly! That horrible whistling noise had them all really worried though.

One reader said that when he previously relied on hearing aids, he could not really hear very much let alone with them. Any high pitched sounds were non-existent to him. Occasionally he would have hearing people tell him that the alarm on his watch was going off. It would set itself accidentally and then go off at some random time. He does not know how often this used to happen but he thinks it might account for some of the odd looks he has had in the past. It happened so often with one watch that he even took the back off and removed the beeper.

LOL

Sara recalls being in Holland, enjoying the retail therapy atmosphere there but kept noticing people were looking at her. She could not work out why. Until someone, kindly let her know “Your phone is ringing” That was not the only time either.

Another instance was after walking into a petrol station, the assistant there curiously said “There is music coming from around you”… She looked at them in wonder and kindly smiled. They insisted that music was playing. “Music to his ears perhaps!” she thought… Was it dope?? Not while at work she hoped. She subsequently realised that her mobile phone had instinctively somehow started to play music, all by itself.

Lizzie relatively remembered that she had been listening to some music on her iPhone with a loop one afternoon. She then popped into a shop to buy some lunch. She unplugged the loop but kept getting smiley looks from people and thought “Wow, everyone’s so nice in here!” It was only when she went outside that she eventually checked her phone and it was playing Michael Jackson – very LOUDLY!

LOL

After Kirsty moved into her new house, two weeks later the neighbour bravely said “Your fire alarm is going off”. “OH goodness, thank you for telling me – how long has it been going off for?”…. “Ermmmm” he looked down, “twooooo weeks”

“Oops!”

Kirsty checked her phone one day at 11am, there was a text which she had received at 10.30am. “I’m locked in the utility room” it said. Oops once again?! So off she finally went to rescue the ol’hubster. Their son had locked him in! And it wasn’t an isolated event either. Unfortunately for him, Kirsty doesn’t carry her phone everywhere though it was rather peaceful when the ol’ hubster was locked up she added.

There is always a balance, mistyping, mishearing so naturally there is also (lip) misreading. For example, a while ago Paul was telling his wife, Rebekah, that they needed a new fridge freezer … “What do we need a new Freddy Freak for?!”… “Who (or what) is a Freddy Freak?!”

Another occasion is when Sara’s mother decided to pay the hairdressers her usual visit. “I would like to make an appointment please” she politely asked. “We can make you an appointment with E.T”. Mum was rather perplexed and exclaimed to herself “E.T?!”… But instead she asked “Pardon?” “We can make you an appointment with E.T” Mother was inclined to retreat. The receptionist then proceeded to show her the bookings book and pointed at…. “Katy” Mother thought to herself “Vee!” The receptionist’s broad northern accent had played a massive influence on her lip speaking patterns.

She also once told Sara how it went at the bank. Upon arriving at the counter, she informed them that she was deaf. The lady said “Oh, I’ll put the loop on for you!” Her mum responded with “But I don’t wear hearing aids?”… Lady says “That’s ok, I’ll put the loop on for you” :-/ Bless her cotton socks for trying to help. 🙂

Lol with a touch of facepalm.

One day, as a young girl Jane was walking besides her mother who was also deaf, signing away. Her sister and grandmother who were both hearing were chatting away and smiling mischievously, walking away from Jane and her mother in the subway. To gain some distance. She noticed their body language and her intuition told her to walk a bit slower. Another passer-by over took them. Jane looked straight ahead and could no longer see her sister or grandmother but she was with her mother so she was not too concerned. When suddenly, this passer-by got walloped over the head by her sister! Who was hiding just around the corner, waiting eagerly to pounce. She had been carrying a roll of cardboard paper and planned to hit Jane over the head with it but fate called her bluff and a poor guy got the shock instead! Jane says she will never forget the shock on her sister’s face and the passer by who was clearly taken aback. Jane’s grandmother, bless her, was trying rather hard not to laugh as she apologised on her granddaughter’s behalf who must have been only 7 years old at the time.

One’s favourite memory has to be when they saw a strange person running up and down outside their home, doing star jumps, waving around. They tried to ignore them as they had only lived at their new residence for a couple of months. A few minutes later, they tried to see if this character was still around… He was albeit in his pyjamas?! They looked around the home for their husband to inform him there was potentially a madman in their vicinity but he could not be found – anywhere. They opened the front door hesitantly and peeped around the corner as cautiously as they could. A bonny smile broke out as soon as they realised this “madman” was their husband, running up and down, star jumping, waving, banging on the windows all trying to get his wife’s attention. What on earth would the neighbours be thinking?! He had locked himself out and his wife had not yet put on her hearing aids. Silence is golden? 😉

LOL

If you enjoyed reading this, you may also enjoy “Happiness is the best medicine.”

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Thank YOU. 🙂

 ~ SJ (Sara Jae)