Angie Aspinall: Up and away – a traveller’s tale

Posted on July 31, 2012

As a traveller with a hearing loss, there’s always a little extra nervousness attached to any long journey: will I hear if there’s a platform alteration announced or hear the call for boarding the plane?  But I’m happy to say that these concerns were unfounded in regards to my latest journey.
The journey from Huddersfield to Wakefield  and then onto King’s Cross all ran smoothly and then we hopped in a taxi and headed to Paddington for the Heathrow Express. This service was particularly user friendly for people with hearing difficulties as there was a visual display on board which showed graphically which terminals were served directly and which entailed changing trains.
We needed to change trains, but again this was all quite clear and there was a member of staff on the platform so, if passengers had any questions, they’d be able to get an answer rather than stand around getting anxious. There were also visual displays showing the destinations of the forthcoming trains (like the ones on the London Underground).
Once at Terminal 4, the visual displays were everywhere so there were no worries about finding the right check-in desk!  There were the usual difficulties of not being able to really hear what the person at the check-in desk was saying but you can pretty much guess the questions (if you’ve flown before) so, that went quite smoothly.
We had three hours to kill at the airport before our flight so we went to find the place with the least background music to have a meal. Finding a quiet place was easier said than done: what is it with eateries and background music?  Even before I wore hearing aids, I never felt background music ‘added to’ my dining experience but now, I find it intolerable. I’m guessing I’m not the only one…
After eating my steak, which I had to cut up with a less than suitable knife (no sharp knives allowed in case someone tried to take one onto a plane), we had a wander round the shops.
Eventually, the board declared that we were to ‘Go to Gate’ and so we did. Once all the passengers had boarded and the doors were closed, there was an announcement from the Pilot.  I’m told the announcement was this:
“Ladies and gentlemen, unfortunately there will be a slight delay as we have a problem with one of the passengers and we’re waiting to have him ejected.”
Everyone started looking round to see who it might be.  Apparently, two Police officers or security guards were boarding the plane to escort the passenger from the plane.  We couldn’t see any of the ‘action’ from our part of the plane, near the wing so, the passenger must have been in the front section but, about half an hour later there was another announcement. According to my husband, the Captain said that a soldier had absconded from the army and had been escorted from the plane and his luggage located and removed.  So, high drama before take off!  It was an a hour later than planned, but finally, we had lift off!

Less than half an hour into the journey, a small child started crying.  They were great loud sobs, the kind  a child does when they are utterly inconsolable.  After a few minutes of it, I could take it no longer and I slipped out my hearing aids and popped them in my pocket, gesturing to my husband to let him know what I was doing.

Now, I don’t do this very often. I mostly try and embrace all sounds, however irritating they may be.  For example, not long after getting my new Bi CROS hearing aids, I even made myself listen to the jazz that was being played in the cafe as I waited for my husband to meet me. Anyone who knows me, will know how hard this was for me as I REALLY hate jazz but, after suffering sudden deafness in my ‘good’ ear, and thinking I’d never be able to hear much of anything again, just being able to detect that there was music playing was something I told myself I should embrace.

The sound of someone else’s wailing child, however, was a different matter altogether.

Now that I’ve had my hearing aids a few months, and got used to how loud higher frequencies can be, I occasionally embrace the idea of taking my aids out to enjoy some peace and quiet. I look at it like this: there are few benefits to being deaf, but being able to sleep through a neighbour’s burglar alarm or the sounds of someone else’s crying child are definitely things I feel give me an advantage over my hearing friends!

Angie is journalist, food and travel writer, photographer and co-founder of #Yorkshirehour on Twitter – as well as having a full-time job in local government. She’s also a wife, chicken-keeper, gardener, foodie and WI member, living in Glorious Yorkshire. Angie started going deaf in one ear at the age of 30, then suffered total sudden onset hearing loss in her ‘good’ ear in 2011. Her husband and her chickens keep her sane – or as close as she’s gonna get! You can check out her website, blog, twitter account, Facebook and Linked In.

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