…at the end of the hearing-aid.

I’ve been involved in the world 0f deaf and hearing-impaired people for over thirty years, much of that time from the managerial and technical side. I have lectured students, instructed, written technical papers, prepared audiology training courses, designed complex sound and inductive loop systems for major buildings, assessed and tested people,  fitted hearing aid systems and provided counselling.

All very worthy, and relatively-easy, as I felt I was in charge. Just over a year ago I was honoured when appointed a Trustee of the Board of Directors of Hearing Concern Link. It is a national charity devoted to helping people to survive socially and psychologically after the onset of hearing loss.

The early Board meetings had been tough with the reduction in Government and Council funding, and most of the talk has been about money (or lack of it!). Although we seem to have turned the corner with the help of some funding from grateful people who had been helped, we cannot rest on any laurels.

The necessity of the work we do was vividly made evident to me at an organised meeting of some of our members one Saturday in Glasgow. This is one of a series of regular courses providing an opportunity for many folk with severe and not-so-severe hearing loss, to get together and learn from a facilitator, and each other. I think it is fair to say that most of us were over 21 by a long way!

Many practical subjects were covered, including personal security, available equipment, frustration and anger. What we didn’t have the time to cover were the effect of losing the ability to appreciate music.

This is a season full of music, so can I ask you think of those who for one reason or another are not able to hear the wonderful music we so love during the Christmas period.

All clear…well not just yet!


Today, the Lady of the House was given the all clear that the macular hole in the retina of one of her eyes had been repaired successfully and that within about another three months she should have near-perfect sight again. This news was gratefully received, especially because some six years ago, two operations had failed on the other eye, and she now has no central vision there.

The operation was complex, and she had had it under local anaesthetic! Her only comment to the surgeon at the time was that they were not to talk of football whilst operating, as she had heard every word spoken the last time!

The joy that flooded her this morning was fully justified, as she has not been able to read, do sudoku, solve crosswords, type, drive, or carry out any job which required precision movements or views of something up-close.

So her life has been brought back from the brink, and for this we have to thank the learning, skill, dedication, and patience of a group of specialists. So for all the complaints we hear about the NHS, we have to acknowledge a large debt of gratitude to these people.

Be grateful that in this country, and the Western world in general, miracles still happen, and lives renewed. The same surgeon has a charity which saves sight in Ethiopia and a large cheque will be winging its way to help those less fortunate than have their sight improved.

We’re so lucky!

Travelled to Birmingham NEC and back, by car, yesterday (5 hours of driving each way!) to attend Naidex, the major UK (if not European) exhibition of equipment for disabled people.

It was jammed full of manufacturers, and distributors, all wanting to show off their products, many on really-21st century display areas.

Catalogues, leaflets, visiting cards, bowls of sweets, pens, keyrings, dolly-birds, and earnest representatives adorned the stands…….

But what has stood out most in my memory is none of these, but the bravery of many of the thousands of people physically handicapped, but still with the strength and courage to come with their wheelchairs, crutches and other walking aids….but mostly their pride. One had a sticky label on the back of his wheelchair, for all to see, and which said ‘  ……’OK so I am disabled, Get over it!’

It puts one’s petty sniffles or creaking bones into some perspective…..doesn’t it!

……………………..I take my hat off to you folks!

A small advert….


Can I be slightly cheeky………I’m taking the chance to use this facility to tell you (at least those in the UK ) about a small national Charity which might be of interest to you.

As you may know, I have spent over 30 years working in the area of hearing impairment, and must soon be coming to my ‘Best-Before’ date! (I hasten to add, here, that if any of my patients read this…..I have NOT retired!)

Like anyone who has spent many decades within one field of endeavour, it is difficult to imagine the world without being there with at least some  influence, but the folks involved managed long before I was born and will, no doubt continue long after I and all my contemporaries are gone! But I certainly wish to continue to help folk by providing expertise as required….nothing really unusual about that!

One of the less-known, but no-less important, Charities is actually a recently-formed combination of two…Firstly…Hearing Concern, providing support at a local level over the UK to those individuals and family members who have acquired a hearing loss but use speech as their main form of communication, and require some help…… Secondly….The Link Organisation which provided concentrated residential care in Eastbourne, for groups or individuals who require concentrated help or counselling following deafness. They complement each other so well, that it is surprising that no-one thought of a merger, before now.

The new name is not terribly original….Hearing Concern Link…..nor is the webname, but it continues to provide much-needed services throughout the UK with a wonderful bunch of volunteers and a relatively-small staffing..   Give it a thought, or just have a look at the link below to see what a bunch of dedicated people can do to help those less fortunate .


P.S. and what about the picture at the top. Ot was of course Ludvig van Beethoven, who went deaf relatively-young, but still succeeded in producing great music until his death almost 200 years ago.


One wonders why the NHS is in such a bad financial state with all the money poured into it.

Then a headline in the local newspaper tells us that over the last few months over thirty wheel-chairs have been stolen! They are provided within the foyer of the hospital to help those with mobility problems get to a car. So it would appear that those friends or relations who have come to collect the patient feel that it is their in-alienable right to purloin the said wheel-chair, fold it up and take it to the patient’s home!

Did no-one ever forsee this, or  did they not twig very quickly what was happening? It is possible to either modify these fold-away units or provide ones which are ‘fixed’. 

Do those who stole the chairs not realise that replacement of stolen units is depriving other departments of funding.

And we thought that this only happened with supermarket trolleys! I suppose it’s just as well that they are not motorised!

What a guy!

I’m not a great TV buff, but I was intrigued with the programme last night, charting the efforts of a 16-year-old Eton boy called Alex. He suffers from Cystic fibrosis, which is normally a debilitating condition. But from somewhere, this highly-gifted lad (he is a brilliant organist) was able to carry out his ambition to conduct the College choir and orchestra.

He endured the routine of pills (over 50 a day), injections and physio with fortitude and achieved his ambition, to the acclaim of his Master, family and friends. I hope we hear more of this lad. he seemed to prove that an illness does not have to mean a disability.

Anyone who, having seen this programme, complains of a cold or a headache, should be ashamed of themselves!

Good news for a change!

A visit tonight to see the Consultant at Ross Hall, about Son’s problems with his hands. It was one of those meetings which you dread, not knowing if the news will be good or bad. It turned-out to be like the curate’s egg…good and bad.

The prognosis seemed to be that it was not Wartenberg’s Neuritis, but some other form, of unknown origin. It also seems to suggest that it will ‘ burn itself out’, but no time scale was mentioned or offered.

But the pains will still continue for some time, and the number of pills will increase to try to control the pain which is incessant (except when sleeping).

So all is not yet right, he is still desperate to get back to work, and feel that he is again contributing to the business.

 …..however, there is an end, if not in sight, then at least just santaover the horizon. Maybe this year, Santa will be kind after all!

So thanks to all those lovely people who have passed-on their good wishes, their prayers, and, in some cases, their experience…we will keep you informed.

Disability….and inner strength

For over 30 years my professional life has been involved with those who have a disability.

Most of this time has been exclusively helping those with a hearing impairment, assessing hearing loss and providing hearing aids and other equipment to make their life a little easier.

It started when I realised that my father-in-law was not doing terribly well with his hearing aid, and I hope that I was ultimately able to help.

Much later, the Young Lady of the House had problems with one eye, and still has effected sight. Daughter, who did a lot of walking at her job, then had knee problems, ending with two operations.

We have other friends who have suffered with constant pain for many years.

We can also look at those folk who recently escaped from the sinking cruise ship, the soldiers coming back from war theatres, those who are struggling during their suffering from malnutrition and disease in the Third World. All of those show in varying ways a surprising strength. I would not wish to be involved in any of these situations, to see how I would handle myself.

Now with Son’s continuing problems, I am convinced that the human animal constantly surprises me with how well it can handle discomfort, disability, and physical pain, sometimes with great humour.

Now if we could only bottle this inner strength!!  Maybe you know the answer……