Angie Aspinall: Things that doctors have said to me since I started losing my hearing

Posted on October 25, 2012

Angie Aspinall started going deaf in one ear at the age of 30, then suffered total sudden onset hearing loss in her ‘good’ ear in 2011. Here she has listed some of the things doctors have said to her since she started losing her hearing…

The ENT doctor who diagnosed me with the progressive condition ‘otosclerosis’ when I was thirty told me I would lose all my lower pitch hearing first.  

But don’t worry,” he chuckled, “you’ll be able to listen to the Bee Gees a while longer yet.” 

He then sent me to be fitted for an analogue hearing aid without any further explanation. Listening to the Bee Gees was not a priority: I had previously been an indie music journalist and was, at that time, doing PR for a local indie band.   I was devastated.

I then went to see the chief surgeon to ask what the likelihood was of getting otosclerosis in my other ear. Another colleague walked into the room.  “Ah, otosclerosis: what’s the likelihood of getting it in both ears?

“Oh, almost certainly,” he said without so much as acknowledging I was in the room. 

The colleague then saw my jaw hit the floor and said to me as an afterthought: “But you have to realise that most people who only go deaf in one ear never bother coming to see us so, I only see the people who are deaf in both.”    I felt he was was accusing me of being a time-waster on top of everything else.

I transferred to another hospital. I went to see someone in ENT to ask for more information about the risk of pregnancy accelerating otosclerosis (as I’d read it can cause profound deafness during the course of a pregnancy) and to see if there was a test to see if would get otosclerosis in my other ear so I could weigh up the risks. 

The doctor I saw said, “I could lift off your ear and have a look inside to see if there’s any sign of otosclerosis but the operation could cause deafness so we wouldn’t do that and, as for the matter of pregnancy: well, you could try it and see.”   I thought this was a highly irresponsible response and I figured that was too risky too – what with my hearing being at stake.

Once, I was sent to see a doctor linked to where I worked. He walked away from me as he led me from the waiting room to his office but I got the impression he might have been talking to me en route. When we reached his office he was looking at me for a response. “I’m sorry, could you repeat that, I’m hard of hearing. I didn’t catch what you said.”

“ARE YOU LEARNING TO SIGN?” He said loudly and slowly in an over exaggerated manner whilst waving his hands about like Magnus Pike.

No,” I said. “I can speak and I don’t know anyone who is deaf. Who would I sign to? I have studied lipreading for two years though, which is why I need you to look at me when you’re speaking to me.”

Fortunately, the ENT consultant I now see (at a third hospital) is lovely.

He actually waits for me to put my hearing aids back in after examining my ears, before speaking to me.  It may seem like a small thing – but it makes a huge difference to my consultations and the feeling of being respected and my needs being met.

Angie is a 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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