Big Sister and I travelled back to the NHS Clinic to claim our freebie hearing aids. It was a fine spring day and the daffodils were in full bloom.
We’re off to see the Wizard, the Wonderful Wizard of Oz
You’ll find he is a whiz of a Wiz! If ever a Wiz! there was
If ever oh ever a Wiz! there was the Wizard of Oz is one because
Because, because, because, because, because
Because of the wonderful things he does.
We scurried up a long footpath which eventually joined a straight sheltered corridor-cum-ramp, finally bringing us into the Clinic. Wait a minute, I’m going somewhere with this! Imagine the two sisters winding up that footpath, surrounded by people going in both directions, mostly in ones and twos. On the last part of the path were signs that weren’t there before. ‘No Smoking’, they said.
“So why can I smell cigarette smoke?” I wondered. “I don’t remember any smoke here last time we visited.”
Close to the mouth of the corridor, which also had ‘No Smoking’ signs along its entire length, I saw an official smoking creche on the other side of the hedge. This explained the smoke drifting calmly through a ‘No Smoking’ area. I’m glad to see Scotland’s ban on public smoking is being observed… ho hum.
I mentioned this to Mum later, and she laughed uproariously and said nurses are awful for smoking. She was the only one in her hospital who didn’t smoke.
Again we didn’t have to wait long to be seen – I noticed a little sign saying that since they brought in a proper appointments system, waiting times had been much improved. I’ll say – I seem to remember waiting two hours to be seen (in this same hospital) some years ago. It was busy and the guy we saw was in a bad mood. This system is definitely better.
Finally we were allowed into a drab little box of a room (needs to be repainted) which had two terrible chairs and no bears. One of the chairs had a broken back that shifted and clanked every time you moved. But I prefer scuffed walls and broken chairs to no hearing aids! If I was in a place where I got poor service but the conditions were absolutely beautiful, I would have reason to feel cheated.
I don’t want to go into boring detail about our visit – just to say that times have changed. I had imagined being handed the new hearing aids and sent away in 20 minutes flat. Now they gave us an hour each. A computer was used to fine-tune the instruments so that they would work their best for us individually. I didn’t have to raise my hand all the time to say “yes I heard that beep” – I didn’t have to say a thing; I was just draped in wires and told to look one way, and then look the other, as though the computer was taking audio mug shots. I have no idea how it was done – it’s the nearest I’ve come in recent years to thinking “oh my gosh – wizardry!”
Finally the lady sat back and said “can you hear me?” and I looked at her with my eyes growing round… “yes,” I said in blank surprise. I felt as though she and the computer between them had switched on the whole room, creating a glowing bubble. I was convinced if I stepped outside the bubble I would be just the way I was before – hearing almost nothing.
“It will probably be very odd at first – distorted,” she said, apologetically. “How does it sound to you?”
“Good gracious,” I said, “this doesn’t sound odd – it sounds normal!”
My sister giggled in the corner.
“Can you hear your own voice?” asked the lady.
“My own voice… yes,” I said, still surprised.
We went away with what looked like a year’s supply of batteries (to keep us powered up and functioning) and instruction booklets. I’ve never had a hearing aid manual before. This just proves we’ve entered a new era! E pointed out a part of the manual that made her laugh, and it’s my favourite bit as well: “If you will not be wearing your hearing computers for any length of time, store them in their protective cases.”
Hearing computers! That’s cool. They have three programs and I know which one is running by the beeps. Just so long as they don’t have Blue Screens of Death like Windows, or pop-up ads to enliven our day…
Not all of the bold companions who travelled along that road got their wish. The hearing computers are not as good for E as her old ones – she says they are too quiet. Her old aids must have been working well. Mine were almost dead, so the new ones seem everything the old ones should have been – no more. But that is relief enough! I shall have to listen to a CD soon. Probably the one E got me for Christmas – War of the Worlds. It’s too late tonight, but tomorrow is another day.