Wednesday, 13 August 2014

Say it again…

I have mentioned hearing difficulties on here a couple of times before but it was all up in the air when I wrote about the problems I was facing back in May. Funnily enough, I wrote ‘Hear me out…’ ( a few days after Arsenal lifted the FA Cup. Similarly, I am writing this post still buzzing from another Wembley victory on Sunday and the second trophy in under three months (hopefully more are on the way). Coincidences aside, the hearing part of my condition had been getting worse over the past 6 months, maybe a year, and I wanted to get it sorted.

As I said previously, the doctor at the Ear, Nose and Throat team in Harpenden told me that my problem was “discriminatory” meaning that I cannot shut out background noise and hone in on someone’s voice. He explained that a standard hearing aid would not benefit me, as my normal hearing is good. I can hear noise fine but I just find it difficult to focus on speech depending on the environment. We spoke about an FM Receiver, which is a little microphone people speak into that transmits sound to an earpiece in my ear. He said that might help but didn’t know too much about it.

A few weeks later, I received a letter from the Audiology department at St. Albans City hospital confirming the time and date of my appointment. This was a waste of time as after running a few hearing tests, she again reiterated that my problem was “discriminatory” and there was little that could be done. I mentioned the FM Receiver and she said although it might help, the NHS would not be able to fund such a device because of the price. I left and done some further research at home. I was looking for a company that would allow me to try it and if it worked for me, I’d then think about raising the money to buy one.

That was until Kai Uus, from the University of Manchester, e-mailed me regarding some research to do with FM Receivers. I read in the Ataxian that she was looking for some participants earlier in the year. However, the research hadn’t begun yet so she promised to contact me when it did. Kai did and I was invited up to Manchester last week to take part. After a 3 and a half hour journey up, I met two research students who performed a few tests on me, including some standard hearing test and one to see how my brain reacts to sounds. They then compared my hearing with the device before showing me how to use it at home.

I now have the FM Receiver for six weeks and have to fill in a questionnaire every two weeks so that they can see if it is helping. The good news is that one of the students told me that if it is really helping after my trial, a charity might be able to purchase it. From what I can tell (I haven’t been out in it yet), it helps in those situations where background noise is prevalent. My hearing doesn’t become perfect but it’s certainly improved by having the little radio in my ear.

Bye for now!

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