Thursday, 31 May 2012

Another Chapter in the Medics' Saga

I have my Babel fish.  Stuck neatly in my right ear, I can hear paper crinkling, sparrows, and keyboard clicks.  What's so remarkable about that?, you may wonder.  Isn't that what hearing aids are supposed to do?  Apart from the eight month pilgrimage diverting via an MRI brain scan, rhinitis diagnosis and "being overlooked", it was a comparatively uneventful final chapter.

The student politely ushered me into a small room.  His supervisor explained that the fitting would be done under his guidance.  A side-by-side pair of flat screens dominated the desk.  They displayed some fancy graphics, including loudness versus frequency profiles of what I assume are my ears.  "So, you've had a hearing aid before?"  "No."  Perplexed exchange of glances.  "Erm, you've come for a hearing aid for your right ear?"  "No; both, I was told."  Perplexter exchange of glances.

Mr Supervisor leans forward to grasp the initiative.  "I have decided you will have just a right one."  I listen, somewhat deflated.  He gives me some technical talk about the difference between my two hearing profiles.  "Any questions?"  "I use my left ear all the time on the phone, and was hoping for some improvement," I state.  And, "Are you telling me the fitting's going ahead based on the one test I had last October?  When I go for an eye test they seem to check more."   Initiative gives way to indignation.  Our man taps the screen, as if the accuracy of the plotted lines is enhanced by his rising emphasis.  I resign.

The nice young student, whose name I didn't quite catch, sticks things in my right ear that beep and whistle.   An area of the computer screen turns pink, then morphs to yellow.  There's some impressively clever stuff behind this.  He activates "loop control", while the supervisor briefly leaves the room.  He shows me how to pull apart and reassemble the little gadget.  I'm going to walk out of here wearing it for the rest of my life (except in the shower).

Suddenly, it's all smiles and endless free batteries.  "You'll soon get used to it..."  I comment that I'm likely to find it less hazardous than my first bifocals, where I nearly fell headlong down the stairs.   Later, at home, Harriet asks me if the traffic made me jump.  "No." I say.  "But I didn't realise how may sparrows there are round here."  So, Royal Hallamshire Hospital and I may be parting company for a little while, except...

After the third time I chased the results of my open angle closure primary glaucoma test, the ophthalmology consultant wrote that he was discharging me because my eye pressures are now well within the normal range.  He signed off with, "keep having your regular eye tests".  You'd think I'd be pleased.  But I'm not wholly persuaded.  It was the regular eye test that got me sent for assessment in the first place. 

It was the yellow bogies incident.  All was going well at Specsavers on Pinstone Street.  Then we got to the "puff" test.  After several eye-watering blasts, the lady said it didn't seem to be working.  She'd have to try different equipment.  I was eye-dropped with an intense chrome-coloured dye that flooded my tear ducts.  Then head-clamped, and somehow obliged to keep my lids apart while she "deflected" the front of my eye with the ratchet-mounted optician's equivalent of a sharpened HB pencil aimed straight into my field of vision.  Four years later, in Leeds, they had the same off-the-scale results with the "puff" test.  But by now, this triggered a referral for further examination.  That was when the nice doctor lady offered to drill holes in my eyes with lasers.

"Aren't we about due for an eye test?" I asked Mary, giving no particular reason.  "Oh yes, it's just two years ago."  "Just before we left Leeds?" I nodded.  Why do I think, somehow, that Specsavers will again be writing to my GP to arrange an assessment at the Ophthalmology department?  And the discharge letter will have been pointless?

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