Rallying the Troops! (via Sender Says…..)

Another post by my husband, please read. XXX

Thanks to everyone who has read, commented or shared my last post. Below is the email that I have sent out to various charities or organisations involved with deafness/hearing loss. It would really help the cause if we could get some of these on board, and I'll let you know as soon as I start getting some replies, which will hopefully not be too long. Hi, Re: The Campaign to Keep Analogue Hearing Aids Available on the NHS I am writing to you in o … Read More

via Sender Says…..

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Oh, for the Love of Analogue! (via Sender Says…..)

Please read this blog post by my husband, which sheds more light on the subject which I also wrote about.

The digital switch over. No, not with TV, Cable, and set-top boxes. This time with ears, hearing and hearing aids, and consequently jobs, hobbies, relationships and essentially lives. Sometimes we know a problem exists, and even know that one day it will have a direct impact on us, but still we often don't do anything about it until it actually comes knocking on our door. It's easy to regret that, but sometimes it's just the way it is. Anyway, I … Read More

via Sender Says…..

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NHS turns a deaf ear to the needs of hearing aid users.

I wish to tell you about a silent scandal and hope that by the end of this article, you too will feel at least some of the outrage that currently has me in its grip. This issue may only affect a small minority of people but the suffering, mental anguish and loss of quality of life for these individuals cannot be overlooked.

Frustratingly, this problem is completely avoidable if only the NHS would listen to the needs of hearing aid users and continue to allow them a choice.

You may have heard of campaigns in recent years to provide digital hearing aids to all those who need them and to shorten waiting times, all very laudable I’m sure you agree. The assumption is that digital is always better and for those who find it so it is indeed good news that digital aids are now freely available.

Now here is the bit where I reach for my soapbox. Digital aids are NOT suitable for all people with hearing loss. It’s time to speak out against this brave new world which marches forwards in all it’s technological glory as it tramples in the dust the people who need analogue aids. Can you imagine how it feels for someone who has been enjoying a full life, working, socialising and making music to then be told that the hearing aid that enabled all this is no longer to be provided.

Online forums are full of heartbreaking tales of the devastating effects of this forced switch to digital. People who can no longer hear their loved ones the way they used to, parents who can no longer hear their children crying. Others who have had to give up their love of music, either playing or listening to. It’s not surprising that depression can be the result when the NHS take away your “ears” and replace them with a pathetic, unsuitable alternative, while at the same time arrogantly claiming that they know best. No doubt the digital aids are technologically outstanding, but this does not always translate into reality.

My husband is happy with his old analogue hearing aid. He works full time and in his spare time he plays guitar and sings in a band. Unfortunately his old aid will not last forever and he has been issued with a new digital hearing aid, the result is horrible. We have known for some time that this day would come and it’s hung over him like a death sentence. He tried digital a few years ago and I’d never seen him so miserable. There was no way he could go to work or play music with it. This new digital is no better but he has been told he must get used to it. He’s trying so hard but to be able to work or go to band practice he puts his old aid in. This is not a long term solution.

We have hit a brick wall trying to find out where we could buy another analogue hearing aid if the NHS will not provide one. It seems the whole world is going digital and it appears that many manufacturers are no longer making analogue aids now that health services have cancelled the contracts to purchase them.

What can be done? Well we need to raise awareness and support the rights of all the people who are battling alone against their audiology departments. It’s easy for an individual to be told that it’s just them that have a problem and they must accept it and get used to it. Let’s not allow this.
It would be great to see as many people as possible join a facebook group to put pressure on the NHS. The group will be open to all people who wish to support the human rights of analogue hearing aid users, as well as the users themselves. We need to show them that they are not alone in this fight.
So, I have started a group, please join and please be patient with me as I am a novice with the workings of facebook.
http://www.facebook.com/home.php?#!/group.php?gid=116042521781196

Thank you for reading and please copy and paste the links into your browser as I am finding it impossible to make them clickable.

Here are just a few threads so that you can see for yourself that this is not just one isolated case.

http://www.bbc.co.uk/ouch/messageboards/F2322274?thread=7661278

http://www.bbc.co.uk/ouch/messageboards/F2322274?thread=5443347

http://www.bbc.co.uk/ouch/messageboards/F2322274?thread=7342594

http://www.bbc.co.uk/ouch/messageboards/F2322274?thread=3661710

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Betsy’s War.

During the war, my Grandmother Betsy struggled with rationing, pregnancy and an ill-humoured mother while she waited stoically for the return of her husband, Bert.

One day, she received a telegram from him, stating that he would arrive on leave the next day and that he would bring a rabbit.

Now Betsy, who was feeling a little weak, often complained to Bert in her letters, that she found rationing such a trial and was in need of more meat, so as you can imagine, the telegram brought more than one cause for celebration.

After she heard the good news, even her mother secretly harboured a kindly thought towards Bert. He had rarely, if ever, been the beneficiary of the old lady’s kindly thoughts, not that he was ever to know about this one.

Next morning, they were up early to tidy the little two-up-two-down house for the hero’s return. It didn’t need to be tidied; Betsy kept it immaculate anyway, even the parlour, which was rarely used, was never left in peace for a little dust to settle.

The housework complete, they went to the allotment to select the best vegetables for the rabbit stew.

The prospect of Bert’s arrival and of fresh meat put a spring into Betsy’s step and for once, her mother neglected to mention that Bert was a nitwit or a ne’er do well. A surprise concession you might think, after all he was only bringing a rabbit.

However, the rabbit represented more than just dinner. It hinted that Bert might be showing signs of usefulness. No doubt, you wonder what Grandma saw in Granddad. Well all I can say to that is, obviously more than her mother did.

By all accounts he was a bit of a nincompoop, so there was some justification for his mother-in-law’s disdain, but Betsy loved him, that’s for sure. He wouldn’t be the first clod to find a devoted wife – far from it.

As the hour of Bert’s arrival approached, they abandoned their usual places in the kitchen, and in their Sunday best, they sat like real ladies drinking tea in the parlour.

Betsy occupied herself with her knitting, though knew that in her state of excited anticipation, she was dropping so many stitches she would have to undo it all later. Her mother sat in silence next to the broken wireless, darning her lisle stockings. Bert had supposedly mended the wireless, but as usual did a partial job. It worked intermittently until finally, it gave up the ghost completely about a week before.

The clock ticked, the knitting needles clacked and time passed, until finally Betsy’s mother broke her silence and stated what had been on both their minds.

Bert’s late!’

Hmmm,’ Betsy didn’t want to positively agree with anything that put her husband in a bad light.

He’s probably found some friends, gone to the pub and forgotten all about you, dear.’

Don’t say that.’

Betsy glared at her mother and they continued their awkward silence.

I don’t know how long they waited until there was a knock at the door. When it came, Betsy threw down her knitting, almost leapt out of the chair and reached the front door as fast as a heavily pregnant woman possibly could.

As she was expecting her apologetic and possibly drunken husband, she was dumbstruck to see a young policeman on her doorstep.

Good afternoon, are you Mrs Collins?’ he asked.

His tone was so serious and his face so grave that Betsy felt all the strength drain from her legs. Although, in a state of trepidation and anxious to know what this unexpected visitor wanted, she still found the presence of mind to wonder what the neighbours might think. Quickly, she looked up and down the street to see who was around to notice.

Yes, I am,’ she answered warily.

Please may I come in?’ he asked. ‘ I need to speak with you.’

She drew him into the parlour. Her mother acknowledged him, laid aside her darning and sat bolt upright as her arthritic hands twisted her handkerchief.

The sombre policeman looked as if he would rather be anywhere else in the world. However, he knew his duty and pressed on with what he had to do.

There is no easy way to say this Mrs Collins.’ He wiped his damp palms down his trouser legs, shuffled his feet awkwardly and after a deep breath, continued.

I am very sorry, but I must inform you that your husband has been involved in an accident.’ He took a deep swallow. ‘He’s passed away. I know it won’t be much comfort, but it was very quick and he didn’t suffer.’

They were to learn more details of Bert’s demise in the days that followed.

It seemed that he had crossed the road with his typical carelessness and been knocked down by a butcher’s van. I remember Grandma telling me that the young man, who had the misfortune of putting an end to Bert, never got over the shock and refused to drive the van ever again.

Betsy’s mother became a tower of strength and took charge of the practicalities. She arranged the collection of Bert’s effects from the hospital and together they went through the contents of his duffle bag. Betsy’s grief was so overwhelming that she hadn’t wanted to face this task.

Dear, we have to open the bag,’ her mother insisted. ‘We can’t leave the rabbit to rot.’

Betsy stared at the bag, as if it might contain a venomous snake or at least the source of all her pain.

I know it has to be done,’ she said.

I can do it myself; you go and lie down. You look like you need to,’ added her mother.

Betsy didn’t feel right about leaving the job to her mother, so she said,

Lets just get on with it, I’ll rest afterwards, but I doubt I shall be able to sleep.’

Betsy took the plunge and reached into the bag. Her hand touched something furry; she grasped it and pulled it out. Mother and daughter stared in silence at what Betsy held in her hands.

Then Betsy laughed out loud and burst into tears, almost simultaneously.

Betsy hugged the fluffy, pink, toy bunny rabbit to her chest and wept uncontrollably. Her mother pursed her lips and tried not to speak ill of the dead, but that didn’t stop her thinking it.

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I wish, I wish, I wish…..

Yesterday I found myself, placard in hand, standing outside the council HQ in Chatham. Hearing that a protest against George Osbornes’s  swingeing budget cuts was in the offing, my significant other and I fought our way through the hellish rush hour traffic to lend our support.

Parking behind the stately Brook theatre, we made our way on foot towards the site of the demonstration. Rarely of late have we experienced such a warm summers day and I wouldn’t have complained if it weren’t for the fact that the heat conspired to intensify the noxious vapours spewing from the host of sluggish vehicles.

Trudging up the hill we shortly came across a small group of  fellow travellers; mostly union members, a lady from the Green party, students and a fresh faced young Marxist lad. I estimate this happy few amounted to no more than 25 people.

Mr O and I found a spot on the pavement next to the only person we knew. For several minutes we stood gauchely pondering what was required of us. Gripped by an urgent need to wave a placard I was pleased to discover there were placards to spare.  Thus armed with my chosen slogan, my confidence and sense of purpose swelled.

Disheartening though it was, to see that so few people had turned up, what frustrated me more was the reaction of the public; apart from the sporadic toot of support from the occasional car, most passers by seemed to gawp disinterestedly and people on foot scurried by with averted gaze.

The protesters themselves seemed subdued and unsure, a few tried to start a chant but it didn’t catch on. I expect greater numbers would have bolstered the feeling of confidence and camaraderie. It was a terribly polite British affair, the nearest we got to unrest was a 4 year old girl throwing an empty plastic bottle and while a few speakers tried to rally the troops over a megaphone a “gentleman” from the barracks across the street invited us to fuck off.

Whilst I know the event was at short notice and many people I know of were unable to get there for various reasons, I am still surprised at the paucity of numbers. A rising tide of frustration bubbled within me, I wanted to shake people and say, “ wake up, this is a matter that directly affects you and all around you. What will it take for you to take your head out of the sand?”

I know I’m perhaps a little naïve and idealistic, but I still believe change can be brought about when people get together en masse to peacefully express their views. The students who did come to the demo spoke eloquently and passionately, a handful though they were. Once upon a time the student community could be relied upon to turn out in numbers to stand up against government inflicted cruelty against the poor, disenfranchised and hard hit workers. Unfortunately those times have passed.

As I take in this scene and grapple with my own awkwardness the internal jukebox of my brain plays Radiohead lyrics on repeat. “I wish it was the sixties
I wish I could be happy
I wish
I wish
I wish that something would happen”

In closing I want to say that now more than ever people power matters. Let’s shake off this ennui and British reserve and put ourselves out there. I know all I did was go and stand on a pavement but if a thousand people or more had done the same, the impact would have been something to behold.

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