Last week I took the girls to London for an event with a difference. It was hosted by Specsavers and saw me with temporary hearing loss for the afternoon. The idea behind it was to experience what it is like to have limited hearing, made all the more apparent at this time of year when you are surrounded by family and friends.
We arrived and we greeted with crackers, party hats and a mouthwatering menu. Before we could enjoy our meal though, I had some putty injected into my ears by the head of Hearcare at Specsavers, Nick Taylor . It is the same putty as they use to take moulds for hearing aids so was perfectly safe. It was a weird sensation though, rapidly losing my hearing and being in silence while people laughed and joked around me.
50% of Britons have difficulty hearing at Christmas and it is those people that need our help. It is up to us, their friends and family, to get them down to Specsavers to have a hearing test. It is completely free to do, only takes 3 minutes and could mean the difference between loneliness and happiness this season. You see, until you have experienced deafness you cannot appreciate how isolating it really is.
With the putty in my ears I sat down to enjoy my meal and at first it was all a bit of a laugh. Little G was even joining in, putting ear muffs on and shouting what did you say?? as loud as she could. After a while though, the novelty wore off and I began to feel left out. Even though I knew that others around the table were experiencing deafness too, I felt as though everyone else was having a great time. I was on the outside looking in, unable to communicate.
They say it can go one of two ways, you either shout as you don’t hear how loud you are or you do as I did, become withdrawn and quiet. By the end of the meal I was reluctant to talk as I knew I wouldn’t be able to fully hear the replies. I know from watching my grandmother that this is how she feels too, she sits in her chair and rarely joins in with conversation. I know now that she is on her own, surrounded by everyone she loves- the cruellest of situations.
Something I didn’t realise is the fact that the process of hearing loss can be slowed down by catching it early enough and wearing a hearing aid sooner rather than later. You should have your hearing tested every year once you reach your 40s and every two years if you are under 40. It may not mean that you need a hearing aid but with regular testing you can catch any loss before it escalates.
Sitting next to my children, as they laughed and had fun pulling crackers, it made me sad to think I may never hear their voices again. I will definitely be getting my hearing tested regularly and am going to make sure my mum goes for a test too! Nobody should feel alone when they are surrounded by everyone they love, least of all at Christmas!