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:
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!
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!
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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!
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!
Over the last few months I’ve been having an on-going debate with Access to Work, the government organisation which provides grants to help people get work, stay in work or start their own business. As a self-employed management coach, losing my ability to hear on the telephone has been a real bummer – how do you contact potential new clients when you can’t hear on the phone any more?
So, I investigated AtW and discovered it was possible that they could fund a virtual PA who could answer my telephone calls for me. That would work! I did lots of research, found someone suitable, prepared my application and applied. For £70 pcm I could get all the help I need, my problem would be solved and life would go back to semi-normal …. the holy grail. But no joy – I was refused. The reason was that they wouldn’t fund somebody to do my job for me. Well I didn’t WANT them to do my job for me – I can do my coaching without help – I just can’t hear on the phone so need somebody to be a pair of ears for me. I appealed, but still no joy. They wouldn’t budge.
Finally I managed to get an assessment interview so we could discuss my problem and see if there was another solution and a very nice man called Graham came to see me this morning. Having heard my dilemma, it soon became apparent that there isn’t a technical solution to my problem (it’s not about volume for me, it’s about tone and clarity as my hearing loss is exactly the same frequency as that used on telephones to compress voices) but apparently AtW are very reluctant to fund ‘human’ solutions.
However, all is not lost! A glimmer of light at the end of the tunnel is certainly better than nothing and apparently AtW might consider funding the latest hearing aids, Amplifon’s ReSound Linx, which are iPhone compatible and allow you to programme your own equaliser and adjust tone/quality. Great! So now I’m back on the hunt to find a dispenser where I can try out these aids and see if they help. I’ve learned the hard way to temper my hopes and expectations against reality – maybe it won’t work but if I don’t try I won’t know.
£3500 for two hearing aids seems poorer value for money than £70 pcm for a pair of human ears for 4+ years but there you go. Nobody ever said the government was based on common sense! And if they don’t work, it’ll be back to the drawing board again but that’s a story for another day …..