Category Archives: fashion

Hearing loss and the spa … and naked!

spa cucumber 2

Anyone who wears hearing aids will tell you how attached we become to these little pieces of machinery. They enable us to stay connected to other people and to navigate more effectively through this noisy world. Taking them out is usually something we only do by choice (and usually at home) as we can sometimes feel vulnerable when we’re unable to hear properly.

Visiting the spa can be quite challenging as hearing aids don’t mix well with water.  Spas involve bathing, showers and quiet, tinkly music – all of which are hard to appreciate when you have to ‘take your ears out’.  And, as some-one who also wears specs, taking my glasses off means I can’t lip-read as much as normal either so there’s definitely a communication barrier when it comes to knowing what to do (and not to do).

So imagine the challenge I faced recently when visiting a spa on holiday in Crete recently only to be told it was a naked spa … it didn’t say that on the website!  There I was: can’t hear properly, can’t see properly and stood in front of a total stranger clad only in a pair of paper panties the size of a postage stamp … it’s a miracle anyone with hearing loss ever goes to the spa at all!!

I had two choices: run for the hills or dive straight in?  Reader, I chose the second one and had a fabulous time.  So if you’re feeling nervous about going deaf commando, here are my top 10 tips for visiting the spa with hearing loss:

  1. Do your research at the front desk. Be upfront about your hearing loss and ask what the treatments involve. A good spa will be happy to explain what each treatment includes. It also means you know exactly what will happen and can avoid any sudden tugs-of-war if the therapist tries to remove your towel unexpectedly!
  2. Ask whether you can wear your own undies or swimwear. Most spas won’t object to this. You may also find that ‘when in Rome’ is a good maxim to remember and just go with the flow. In my first experience at a naked spa in Hawaii, I dived straight into the mud bath to hide only to realise that the only person wearing a swimming costume looked ridiculously out of place and embarrassed.  We come in all shapes and sizes so relish the freedom and go with it!
  3. Take a waterproof case for your hearing aids (and a case for your specs) so they’ll be safe when you’re in the shower or pool – you can put them in the pocket of your spa robe then wear them again for your massage treatments if needed
  4. Before your spa treatment starts, tell your therapist about your hearing loss and go through what will happen step-by-step so you’re fully prepared
  5. Walk around the spa and find out where everything is – you don’t want to play hunt-the-towel when you come out of the hammam
  6. Check the level of tinkly music with the therapist.  You can turn it off for total quiet or adjust the volume so you can hear it. Stopping your massage in the middle to turn the music up/down can definitely ruin the moment
  7. If you’re having a facial or massage where the therapist will touch the sides or your face or head (even during a shoulder or neck massage), quite often the hearing aids may squeal with feedback. The first time this ever happened to me, the therapist jumped a few inches high with the shock!  So either take them out beforehand or turn the volume down.  I prefer to wear them but with the volume down so I can still hear the music but not frighten the horses
  8. Agree with the therapist about the best way for her to signal if she needs you to do something. For example, she can tap you gently on the hand if she needs you to turn over on the massage bed or to let you know the treatment has finished
  9. What you think is how you feel – if the idea of going deaf and naked makes you feel like Fatty Arbuckle, then you’ll never enjoy it.  Just repeat after me: “I’m absolutely fabulous” and you’ll have a great time
  10. Finally, and most importantly, take control of your hearing loss. Manage the situation by gathering information first, be totally upfront about your needs and discuss with your therapist any do’s and don’ts beforehand – it will make the world of difference. The whole point of visiting a spa is to relax and enjoy time out so put in a little effort at the beginning and you’ll soon float away and relax

But in the case of the tiny paper pants however, sorry guys – whoever invented them needs shooting!

 

Shake it Off! They’re looking at me like I’m cray cray crazy!

Every now and again something makes me stop and laugh, usually a daft clip of kittens doing something ridiculous on Youtube.  But this week saw me dancing about to a great clip of pimped hearing aids which has been set to the catchy Taylor Swift song: “Shake It Off”.

“Pimped hearing aids, what’s that?” I hear you cry.  Well a young lady named Aimee-Louise Paddock has created a fab song to go with hundreds of photos on a Facebook page called “Pimp my hearing aids and CIs”.  It is mind-blowing!  You’ve never seen funky hearing aids like this before – coloured tubing, glitter and covered in nail foils, wraps, sparkles and ribbons, plus hundreds of hearing aid charms – for boys, girls and adults – of all sorts of animals, flowers and cartoon characters. Even Swarovski Crystals are getting in on the act!

Aimee-Louise is promoting the great message that parents shouldn’t have to teach children to hide their hearing aids …. they should decorate them and wear them with pride as it definitely improves the kids’ confidence levels.  What a great message! Considering 80% of people currently say they want a hearing aid that’s invisible (due to the outdated ‘stigma’ of being thought of as disabled) this message obviously still has quite a way to go in reaching the public consciousness but this is a great start.  It’s made me smile …. and start thinking about how I’d like to pimp MY hearing aids!

Next Generation Text Service – hello is anyone there?

I don’t consider myself a Luddite when it comes to new technology but the New NGTS app is proving to be a real challenge.  This new service is for people who can’t hear on the phone – relay assistants are connected into the call and can type what the other person is saying so you can read it on your phone/tablet/laptop/PC – you need never miss a conversation again, how amazing!  You can download the NGTS app to your Smartphone so you can make and receive calls anywhere (as long as you’re connected to the internet).

It sounds like the answer to my prayers in terms of finally being able to communicate using a mobile phone again but at the moment it’s a case of balancing my very high expectations against my limited technical ability, never a walk in the park!  I’ve never used a text relay service before so am still learning about how it all works.  I also have lots of questions which the site doesn’t answer so have just whizzed off an email to their helpdesk to ask for support – oh joy of joys, I can expect an answer in up to 5 days!  Just as well it wasn’t urgent!  Apparently there are quite a few teething problems and there’s a lot of chatter on Facebook about it so at least I’m encouraged by the fact that I’m not the only one.

As much as I relish the thought of being able to use these new apps to make life simpler, I can’t help feeling sympathy for people for whom the internet, apps and software downloads are an unfamiliar and challenging world.  My Mum, for example, doesn’t use (or want to use) a computer which means that life and communication becomes very difficult – finding out what’s on at the cinema, getting quotes for new insurance, finding out when the next bus is due.  Technology is a wonderful thing, but not for everyone.

ngts

Hey gorgeous! You with the hearing aids!

I’ve often wondered what it is about hearing loss that makes so many people ashamed and want to hide their hearing aids.  Are walking sticks objects of derision? Are wheelchairs ugly? Are false limbs funny?  NO! So what is it about hearing aids that makes people want to cover them up?

Perhaps it’s the long outdated association of hearing aids as big, flesh-coloured, pink, plastic objects worn behind the ears of ‘old people’.  Well folks, it’s time to wake up and smell the coffee! You constantly see people listening to music with ear-buds in their ears while celebrities and famous people wear coloured ear buds on TV and Youtube all the time – it’s finally become ‘normal’ to see people with some kind of widget in their ears and nobody blinks an eye.  This has hugely reduced the stigma of wearing hearing aids and there are some amazing hearing aid designs out there now.  There’s also a huge range of colours for hearing aids and cochlear implants such as blue, pink, red, orange, neon, silver, tiger-eye – and some very creative folk making all kinds of accessories and jewellery to bling them up.

Did you know you can decorate your hearing aids with nail foils and crystals, get hearing aid jewellery charms, glitter moulds, coloured tubing, hearing aid scrunchies and tube twists?  Have you ever thought about pimping your hearing aids to match your outfit or wearing Hearrings to express your individuality in the same way that people wear fashionable spectacles?  It’s particularly encouraging for children and teenagers who, instead of being bullied for being different, are now being envied by other kids who want to know where they can get these hearing aid charms from – Disney characters, princesses, spacemen, cats, dragons, Superman … you name it, there’s a charm for it!  Hearing aids are finally – HALLELUJAH! – joining the modern fashion world and coming into prominence in a way that’s never been seen before.

The rise in popularity of ear cuffs is also driving the idea that a hearing aid can be a thing of beauty rather than something to hide – the photo on the left is a great example: how sexy and elegant is that!?! From my own point of view, it’s pictures like this that make me realise that I don’t have to hide my hearing aids any more either … in fact, as a self-confessed jewellery addict, the only question is: where can I get me one of these!!!

earrings fur coat

Sounds fishy to me ….

Do you ever think sometimes that scientists have nothing better to do than waste time and money?  A new study came out recently saying that eating fish can reduce the risk of deafness in women by 20%.  Really?  Tell that to the 180 million women worldwide who are deaf or have hearing loss!  Having done a quick straw poll on Facebook it appears that there’s an equal split between women who eat fish twice a week and women who don’t eat it at all and, guess what?  No difference!  We finally concluded that if drinking red wine would reduce deafness then we’d all have the hearing of bats but unfortunately that isn’t going to happen any time soon! http://www.hngn.com/articles/42052/20140911/fish-consumption-reduces-risk-hearing-loss-women-study-finds.htm

woman and hearing aids

Knowledge is power – thanks Tim Berners-Lee!

The internet is a wonderful thing!  As part of my research to find new information for Soundzoff’s directory, I came across an amazing article which describes my hearing loss almost perfectly – the bizarre world of reverse slope hearing loss!  I have a rare form of low-frequency loss which means I can hear high sounds but not low sounds (particularly men’s deep voices).  It’s therefore hard for people to understand how I can hear some things but not others.  For example, I heard our cat coming down the stairs the other day because I can hear the tinkling of her nametag on her collar – my husband couldn’t hear it and found it inexplicable that I could hear such a tiny sound but I can’t hear men talking on the television when I’m sitting right in front of it!  Everyone’s hearing loss is unique so it’s important that we all do everything we can to find out more about our own particular type of loss – hopefully Soundzoff will play a small part in making that happen. http://www.hearinglosshelp.com/articles/reverseslopeshort.htm

Soundz Off launched to the world!

Well it’s been a really busy couple of days since the launch and I’m delighted with the response!  So many people have sent congratulations and thanks for setting up Soundz Off – it seems as though this is the kind of resource that people have been looking for.  People have already sent me links to be included – how great is that!? – and the LIKES on Facebook are starting to grow which is amazing.  Action on Hearing Loss have been really interested and will be reviewing Soundz Off in the review section of Action on Hearing Loss Magazine, hopefully in the Autumn.  I may even get the chance to be featured in their magazine as I’m a member of AOHL who’s doing something for the HoH/d/Deaf community.  I’m now working my way through a long list of press contacts and sending out information – the more people I can share Soundz Off with, the better!  I’m also delighted that Pardon? (on Facebook – check it out!) welcomed Soundz Off so enthusiastically – the more of us who can work together to promote hearing loss issues the better we always say 🙂

Expert? Me?

At my audiology appointment the other day I was chatting to my audiologist when he said I know far more than him now about what’s going on in the wider “hearing loss” world as he’s only trained on what happens in the NHS world.  He also said I’d persevered to overcome my hearing problems far longer than most people would and should now consider myself an “expert” on hearing loss.  I was a bit taken aback to hear him say that but I suppose he’s right – I have a (not so deeply hidden) stubborn streak which means I become infuriated by unfair treatment and being denied the opportunities that others take for granted.  That’s why I support the Caption Everything campaign to get subtitles included as standard across all media.  For example, I don’t see why people with hearing loss should have to pay the same rate for Sky when they don’t provide subtitles on their Ondemand or SkyGo packages so we miss out on half the programmes!

I also get really cross at the fact that I’ve had to teach myself nearly everything I know about hearing loss – the NHS is great at diagnosis and sticking a hearing aid in your ear, but when it comes to talking to you about how hearing loss happens, about how you’re supposed to cope with hearing loss, about where to get equipment and support, basically you’re on your own!

That’s why I’ve started a new website for people with hearing loss – www.soundzoff.com – and a Facebook page www.facebook.com/soundzoff so that anyone with hearing loss can go to ONE PLACE for all the information and support they need to manage their own hearing loss.  It’s hard to believe somebody else hasn’t done this already – but here it is … free, independent signposting to all the help you need.  I hope people find it useful 🙂

Hello world!

“Every journey begins with a single step” so they say, so this blog is the first step to launching the Soundz Off website out into the big wide world.  I just think it’s wrong that people with hearing loss don’t get told by their doctor or audiologist about the wide range of support available to help them.  The majority of people get given a little bit of information – for example, how to clean their hearing aids – yet nobody tells you about workshops to help you adjust to the shock of being diagnosed with losing your hearing, or the huge range of equipment that makes daily life easier or the social media sites which put you in touch with people in the same situation.

Hearing loss is a hidden disability and, for me personally, it’s taken  quite a lot of time (and a lot of mental wrestling) to get to the stage where I’m ready to ‘come out’ and tell people about the issues I face on a daily basis.

This blog will be a record of the highs/lows and struggles/successes encountered as I tell people about plans for Soundz Off … and hopefully this site will become the “go to” place for people who want to find a quick route to the information they need on hearing loss.

I’m not re-inventing any wheels, I just want to bring the existing wealth of information together in one place and make it easy for people to find the knowledge they need.  I have no idea where this might end up, I have no idea what’s to come but what I do know is that I’m passionate about helping people live a happy and full life despite hearing loss.

What doesn’t kill you makes you stronger and I look forward to developing my knowledge about hearing loss in general, my own hearing loss in particular and hopefully helping others to find the support they need far quicker than they would do on their own.  Let the adventure begin!

every journey begins