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“I would never have admitted I couldn’t hear”

Elizabeth smiling sitting in an arm chair

Elizabeth started to lose her hearing in her 40s and found she was missing out on conversations. Thanks to support from RNID, she is now getting the most out of her hearing aids and is more connected to friends and family.

Elizabeth, from East Belfast, started to lose her hearing when she was in her 40s. She said:

“I was in York for a conference in 1991 and I was on an open top bus. It was very windy and I felt the wind go through my ear. When I got back I couldn’t hear in my left ear. I went to the doctor who referred me to a consultant who diagnosed it as a shock reaction to the nerve endings in the ear. I attended the City Hospital every six months and I was given a hearing aid.”

“A few years ago my hearing deteriorated and I was referred to the City Hospital where I was fitted with two hearing aids. They drove me mad, it was partly my fault but I couldn’t get used to them.”

Elizabeth wears glasses and she was experiencing difficulties with her right hearing aid which kept falling out. A friend mentioned that her mother had received support from RNID and Elizabeth decided to get in touch.

“I found out that RNID run support sessions for NHS hearing aid users and I went to the one at the Arches which was very good; I was given new batteries and the volunteer cleaned out my hearing aid.

However I was still experiencing problems – everyone said I was speaking very quietly which was getting on their nerves as well as mine. I contacted RNID again and spoke to Melissa, the Hearing Aid Liaison Officer. Right from the start, there was empathy there. She listened and she understood what I was saying as she has a hearing loss herself and she arranged to come and visit me.”

Not only was Elizabeth’s hearing affecting her ability to communicate with family and friends but it was also affecting her confidence. She said:

“I was driving everyone mad; they kept telling me ‘We can’t hear you!’ I felt like going out was a waste of time and I found that I was pretending that I could hear what people were saying when I couldn’t. I would never have admitted I couldn’t hear but Melissa enabled me to say what I was feeling.”

Melissa visited Elizabeth and examined her hearing aid. She discovered that Elizabeth’s right hearing aid wasn’t sitting right because of her glasses which kept pushing it out of place. After trial and error, Melissa managed to shorten the length of the hearing aid tube until it sat flat against Elizabeth’s ear.

Elizabeth said:

“Melissa spent an hour and a half with me, cutting the tubing down and taking pictures with her phone to show me what she was doing. I can definitely hear better now; most importantly I can hear my friends and they can hear me.”

If you’re experiencing problems with your NHS hearing aids, RNID can help. Our Hearing Aid User Support Service, ran in association with local Health and Social Care Trusts, runs sessions across Northern Ireland. Our dedicated volunteers can provide free batteries, cleaning of earmoulds and retubing, as well as information on getting the most out of your hearing aids. To find your nearest session, contact us on 028 9023 9619.