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Jane Bates: Reflections on a loss of hearing

Jane Bates reflects on the debilitating effects of a loss of hearing, and feels thankful that she will likely recover

Jane Bates reflects on the debilitating effects of a loss of hearing, and feels thankful that she will likely recover


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What? Pardon? Say that again? I’m getting fed up with asking people to repeat themselves.

The winter virus that has lingered on into spring has left me, like so many others, hard of hearing. It makes me feel excluded in a way I have never experienced before. In a crowded room I just get a muffled cacophony, not individual noises.

As Bella Bathurst says in her book Sound, about her own deafness, hearing gives us each other. Being unable to join in a conversation is dreadful, and this sensory loss has made me uneasy at work. Am I fit for practice?

When I was a student, much was made of our faculties being in tip-top condition, even to the extent of giving us vision and hearing tests when we applied for training. I passed the tests, but then it all went wrong on my first ward.

Humiliated in public

The nurse in charge took me to task because I didn’t pick up on someone calling out for help. All my attention was focused on another patient, and I genuinely hadn’t heard him. But there was no mercy, and I received a royal dressing down in front of the whole ward. What would she make of unanswered buzzers nowadays, I wonder?

I always remember this nurse because she taught me two valuable lessons: always have half an ear open and be alert even when you are concentrating on something else, and never humiliate a colleague in public.

And now – lesson three. I am learning the debilitating consequences of hearing loss, and what helps and what doesn’t. I am so thankful that I will likely recover when for so many this is a lifelong sentence.


Jane Bates is an ophthalmic nurse in Hampshire 
 

 

 

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