I’m deaf. Now what? By Simon Schofield (Leeds)

5 out of 5 stars

I’m deaf.  Now what?    By Simon Schofield

“I finally faced up to my problem one summer evening, strolling up the road on the way for a drink with my teenage daughter. She was on my right hand side – and chatting away. I could hardly hear a word she was saying.  In hindsight, all the signs were there – and familiar to those of us who now wear hearing aids. I asked people to repeat things. A lot. I had the TV or radio on louder than everyone else. At parties, or in the pub, I struggled to hear the person talking to me over the hubbub. I’d even returned a pair of headphones, claiming they were faulty because the sound on the right had side was muffled and close to inaudible. I’d ignored all the signs, but I couldn’t carry on doing that. Was I deaf on that side? It was time to find out. It was a big decision – and one I wasn’t too fond of pursuing to its conclusion. I was only fifty two, running my own company in television production and in my free time leading an extremely active life indulging my passion (my wife would say obsession) for road cycling. Whilst it’s never a great idea to be complacent, life was pretty sweet – on the grand scale of things, I didn’t have a lot to worry about. So I really didn’t want to be deaf.  But having made the decision, there was little point in delay. I made a private appointment with an ENT specialist for a hearing test and examination. It didn’t take long. I had quite severe loss on the right hand side and a mild loss on the left. It was “idiopathic” – this is doctor-speak for “We have no idea why you’re deaf.” There was one highly unlikely thing that needed to be ruled out, which is a common cause of single-sided deafness, namely an acoustic neuroma. You don’t want one of those, but an MRI scan, arranged through the NHS, provided reassurance.

I wasn’t dying, I was just deaf. Now what? The immediate priority was a cycling trip to the Alps to climb a few hills, watch a race – and reflect that I was now officially deaf. Over a few beers with my mates, the way forward emerged: The problem wasn’t going to fix itself – I was going to need hearing aids. I wasn’t thrilled, but I just needed to get on with it. I hit Google when I got home – and emerged a couple of days later, thoroughly confused. I work in a highly technical industry, I’m a fully paid up gadget-freak and I’m pretty clued up on electronics and technology but the choice was overwhelming. I needed a human being to help me – and one who knew what they were talking about. I found Rob on the web, and a few days later, he was sitting across from me at the dining room table. I feel a bit sorry for audiologists in this position – they tend to be the focus of your frustration that one of your essential faculties has gone south, never to return and dealing with people who are essentially in a state of shock can’t be easy. 

Rob was very patient – and explained that my dream scenario, a hearing aid that would be invisible, have eternal battery life and would restore my hearing to 20/20, was probably not going to happen. He took me through the options and guided me towards a Behind-The-Ear (BTE) CROS system.  The system would place a tiny box of tricks, nestling just behind the ear, on my bad side. In it – a microphone which would gather sound and send it, via Bluetooth, to a second box of tricks on my good side. All the sound would be channeled into my good ear – with some impressive electronics mixing it and processing it to make it sound as natural as possible and to fool the brain that the bad ear was working. There was an inevitable period of adjustment. No matter how good the electronics, the new sound is different. I now know that it’s called “processed” sound. It sounded artificial and a bit weird. But gradually, I became accustomed to it.

Not overflowing with happiness, but adapted – and three years later, the adaptation process continues.  I think Rob probably finds me one of his more demanding clients. I had him back several times to tweak the sound and the volume in the early months – and his patience and knowledge was always exemplary. He refrained from giving me the hard sell on new products or advances in software and hardware, but, continuing to do my own research, I am now on my third CROS system. The principle remains the same, but the technological advances are substantial. My latest Phonak system is much better than anything I’ve had before – the sound is very natural and the ability of the software to learn from the various sound environments I encounter is incredibly clever. Of course, it’s not been cheap. Rob does price keenly and he has given me good deals. But I have spent thousands of pounds trying to defeat my disability. Three years on, my life has changed. Some of it was going to happen anyway, and some of it was a consequence of being deaf. I am reluctant to do some things that I used to do. But my main interests remain the same, I still greatly enjoy life, I still ride my bike up mountains, and nowadays I just try to see deafness as part of life’s rich tapestry. It could be a lot worse . . . . . and every few weeks I get to have a good moan at Rob. 

In conclusion – if you find yourself in my position, I’d give the following advice: Don’t think that a hearing aid will restore your hearing to perfection. It might, but it’s unlikely. You have to learn to deal with being a bit deaf and you will work out strategies that help. As in many areas of life, you get what you pay for. The more expensive hearing aids do produce better results. Tell people that you’re a bit deaf. It removes embarrassment and everybody I’ve ever told has reacted positively. 

And be nice to Rob – it’s not his fault you’re deaf!”

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Phonak P30 RIC Hearing Aids & Music

Phonak P30 RIC Hearing Aids


Paradise: A place or condition of great happiness where everything is exactly as you would like it to be; Heaven.


Comparisons are with my Widex Beyond 440 aids, which I have been wearing for several years.


Comfort and Fit

The body of the P30 aids is compact but slightly wider than my Widex Beyond 440s. The extra width is probably to accommodate the rechargeable battery and its associated electronics. The difference in size isn’t large, but it is significant when the aids are vying for space with spectacles and facemask loops.

The size S domes on the M receivers are easy to insert in my ear canals. My LH ear canal is narrow, and the dome feels a bit uncomfortable at times. Widex makes a smaller size XS open ear-tip, which fits my LH ear canal better than the Phonak S.


Ease of use

The phone app is easy to use, and it has a comprehensive set of functions.

Volume and program change can be done using the buttons on the aids, but they are a bit fiddly to use. Notifications of changes made are by a series of beeps, which I found a bit confusing at first.


Sound Quality

The Phonak P30s are bright sounding aids. I think that the brightness enhances understanding of speech.

The aids amplify head sounds such as breathing and chewing. I think that the reason for it is that the body of the aids is slightly resonant. I found it disconcerting at first, but I quickly got used to it.



I used the Universal program most of the time, but I also used Music with Feedback Manager and Music without Feedback Manager.

The Universal program worked well. My understanding of speech was good, including TV dialogue. Some sounds, such as those generated by cutlery on crockery, or running water, seemed to be accentuated, whereas others, such as the sound from a car engine, seemed subdued.

The Universal program is not good for listening to music. The operation of the Feedback Manager interferes with notes in the higher register causing an unpleasant tremolo effect. The effect was also present to a lesser extent with the Music with Feedback Manager program. The effect was not there with the Music without Feedback Manager program, which sounded quite good.

Feedback was an issue when using the Music without Feedback Manager program, but the problem was reduced by lowering the volume of the aids



I paired the aids with my Android phone and with my Windows tablet. The pairing was simple enough.

The streaming feature was useful for taking calls, but I was particularly interested in how the aids would sound with streaming music. The track that I used for testing was Madeleine Peyroux’s version of Careless Love.

I played an 835kbps FLAC CD rip and a 262kbps m4a version of the track using both the phone and the tablet. There was little or no difference in sound quality between the phone and the tablet.

There was a fair amount of background hiss. The sound of both versions of the track was acceptable. Jay Bellerose’s drums and Larry Goldings’ Hammond Organ came across particularly strongly, but David Piltch’s double bass sound lacked body and resonance. Madeleine Peyroux’s voice sounded good, as always, but it lacked some of the usual velvety smoothness . . .




Review from Switzerland

Meine persönlichen Erfahrungen mit RJD Hearing Care

Ich habe nach  Prüfung verschiedener Kriterien bei RJD Hearing Care zwei Phonak Hörgeräte gekauft und bin – was den Händler betrifft und auch die  Phonak-Hörgeräte – so zufrieden, dass ich hier meine Erfahrungen an Sie weitergeben möchte. Ganz privat und ohne gebeten worden zu sein!! Also keine Test-Org. oder Check 25 oder so ….

  1. Bewertungs-Kriterium: Die Qualität der gekauften Phonak Marvel M90-R -Hörgeräte
    Ich habe in den letzten Jahren verschiedene Hörgeräte führender Hersteller getestet und habe mich für Phonak aus der Schweiz entschieden, da ich hier ein sehr gutes Preis-Leistungsverhältnis gefunden habe. Bitte einmal die Preise selbst vergleichen.Besonders  angenehm:
    –  Die sehr präzise Verstärkung, gerade für Gespräche, Theater oder Fernsehen
    –  störungsfreie Verstärkung, ohne Klirren des Geschirrs oder Knarren des Fußbodens
    –  Die Lautstärkeänderung durch einfaches Tastendrücken am rechten Ohr
    –  Das schnelle Aufladen der Akkus über Nacht oder auch zwischendurch
    –  Die Anbindung mit TV-Connector an das Fernsehgerät  oder Computer 
  2. Bewertungs-Kriterium: Die Kaufabwicklung mit dem Lieferant aus England– mit dem Audiogramm meines Ohrenarztes habe ich bei der Beihilfe und Krankenkasse “grünes Licht” erhalten
    –  aufgrund des äußerst guten Bewertungen bei eBay und des günstigen Preises habe ich bei RJD Hearing Aid bestellt, alles problemlos
    –  die Bezahlung erfolgte über Paypal, wobei die Umrechnung in EUR auch klappte
    –  die neuen Hörgeräte werden als versichertes Palet mit Tracking-Number innerhalb von 2 Tagen aus England geliefert
  3. Bewertungs-Kriterium: Die Service-Leistungen des Händlers RJD Hearing  Care– die Beratung und Beantwortung meiner Fragen wurden zügig und freundlich beantwortet
    – Die Ausstellung der Rechnung erfolgte in GBP und EUR und wurde von den Kassen anstandslos anerkannt
    –   Der Händler steht auch nach dem Kauf für Beratungen und Service zur Verfügung, was ich jedoch noch nicht in Anspruch genommen habe

Diese Bewertung habe ich als “Dankeschön” persönlich vorgenommen und stehe unter rainer.lorke@web.de zu Auskünften gerne zur Verfügung

“Technology is the key!”

I became a patient at Rob’s practice about 6 years ago and the first thing that I noticed was the technology that was being used seemed to be more advanced than what I had previously experienced.
New Technology aligned with an impressive IT system is high on the agenda with Rob at the RJD Hearing Care Practice, which helps to give one immediate confidence .
I have continued to be impressed by the detail and attention that I have been given to make sure that I have the correct solution for my hearing needs.
It was not long before Rob in his very professional and methodical way had a perfect understanding of just what was best in my particular circumstances.
His solution gave me confidence and was just what I needed .
He was always ready to help and advice especially when at times effectiveness of my hearing seemed to be a waning a little.
During some months I had began to notice a fall off in sound quality and discussed this with Rob and coupled with known advances in Bluetooth Technology decided this was a time to look for an update as my current aids were now about 5 years old.
With Rob’s understanding of my needs , and after looking at various systems coupled with some research I became aware of the outstanding qualities that Oticon offered. So the Oticon Opn S1 miniRITE became my eventual choice.
I immediately noticed a dramatic and different dimension and a greater clarity than I had previously experienced  – sounds I had almost forgotten existed were now much brighter. No longer was there a muffled sound nor was I at times straining to hear a conversation.
And the Oticon ON app gave me several options to alter the sound to suit the particular circumstance I was in, this made a big difference especially at music concerts , with my volunteering work in a Hospital where I need to communicate with staff and visitors, with Theatre visits and listening to speakers in Church and at public events.
The addition of the adapter for the television has been another great step forward. which enables me to listen to the sound and volume I want without causing discomfort to others and lets me continue to listen even when not in the room. And sound can be transmitted from some of my other electronic systems direct to my Oticon hearing aids.
The Bluetooth system also allows me to listen to music direct to my Oticons and for my
my iPhone to be more efficient , calls come direct to my Oticon hearing aids and the inset microphones allow me to have conversations with little or no inconvenience. Oticons have given me a new and improved outlook of the environment around me and made me realise just what I had been missing.
5 stars
David Upton
West Yorks
12 11 19

Hearing Protection

From Brian Rowlands, member of noisy streetband, The Peace Artistes :
“THERE’S TOO MANY OF THEM AND THEY’RE TOO LOUD!” we heard one shopper call out to her friend. Bradford streetband ‘The Peace Artistes’ has been busking, performing at festivals, demonstrations and on parades around the UK and Europe since 1984. They are currently 23 people playing a mix of saxes, brass, drums and other percussion
I’ve been playing with The Peace Artistes for most of that time, and I can tell you that lady was right about the loudness! Though we are all-acoustic (no amplifiers) we have been known to cause a power outage when playing in a venue with a ‘safety’ noise sensor: absurdly, that shut down the lights but didn’t stop us playing!
I play timbales, snare drum and cymbals with The Peace Artistes – so yes, the effect on my hearing at such close range has probably been damaging. I wonder why I left it so long to start wearing decent ear plugs? 
Recently Rob and his colleague Kirstin took earmoulds and supplied me with close fitting ‘musician’s earplugs’. These plugs are especially good in rehearsal, where we face each other in a confined indoor space, but they still allow enough filtered sound to hear the music. Using these earplugs has made me realise just how painful loud noise can be! 
Many thanks Rob and Kirstin!

Distance is no object – with remote programming

Phonak M90R
“I live in South Africa and found RJD Hearing Care over the internet, read some reviews and made electronic contact.
Having ascertained that the reviews were excellent, I paid my monies, e-mailed an audiologist report and Robert Donnan of RJD Hearing Care posted the hearing aids (having preset them to my audio-gram) and accessories to me.
I received them, fitted them and have had absolutely no issues.
Robert called to ensure fit and function and offered to remotely fine tune them should the need arise.
I have been ecstatic with both the service and the product and would certainly recommend RJD Hearing Care (through Robert) to anyone purchasing hearing aids.
Rest assured that whatever they claim to do, they will do!”


Guilio Forno

Alan FINALLY gets his hearing sorted out

5 out of 5 stars

Alan has done work for our practice over the last 11 years. He first approached me about the possibility of wearing hearing aids 8 years ago. Last week, he finally got around to do doing something about it!

“I purchased my hearing aids 4 weeks ago and I am very impressed with the quality of the product and also how it as improved my day to day life. They are inconspicuous and easy to insert/ wear. I have the app on my phone allowing me to adjust the aids to suit my surroundings and also stream music or answer/make calls on my phone. A big thank you to Rob Donnan and his staff at RJD Hearing Care for their excellent service.”



Glenn overcomes any concerns about wearing hearing aids at work

5 out of 5 stars

“I have been known for being quite a loud character and have struggled with not clearly hearing exactly what people say for much of my adult life, but not really thought of doing anything about it. For years I have annoyed my wife and kids by asking my wife to repeat herself at home constantly, just thinking it was me being a stereotypical male and not listening! and am sure have been a real pain to my family at large for having to have the TV at home or radio in the car on far louder than anyone else felt acceptable.

At work, I have often struggled in meetings to catch the exact words colleagues or customers have said and often have had to rely on trying to lipread or concentrate very, very hard on what people were saying to me.

After my wife eventually nagged me enough to go for a hearing test, and after much research online to look for a company I thought I could trust, I found RJD Hearing. I filled out the online form and waited for contact…

From the first contact, I really was bowled over with Rob’s bedside manner. The first interaction was a phone call where he was immediately empathetic to my enquiry, during that call he quickly turned into a very consultative style, advising me on considerations for my choices, and also breaking down some of the taboos I had in my mind about hearing loss at my age.

On the first meeting, after having a hearing test and establishing the level of my loss of hearing, we discussed lifestyle and preferences and he recommended the Phonak Audeo Marvel and I left with them on a free trial. I returned for a second visit and I could appreciate the difference they were making at home to my general hearing and my quality of life, but I wasn’t wearing them out and about or at work. Rob was fabulous in his counselling to me, listening to everything I said about how I was feeling, how they were affecting me, what I was hearing etc. He made some changes to the programming of my hearing aids and sent me away again – with no pressure about buying them or even discussing the price or a payment plan.

On the second visit I had overcome wearing them socially, but still wasn’t wearing them during the working hours. Again Rob, was so calm and I felt, that he was interested about trying to improve my quality of life. He was so knowledgeable and enthusiastic about the subject, he wanted to listen to everything about how they were impacting my life and I genuinely felt he wanted to solve the problem for me. So again, he made some changes to the programming of my hearing aids and sent me away!

On the third visit, everything had changed, I was wearing them religiously from morning till night and now wouldn’t consider going anywhere without them (apart from swimming or the shower!)

I have now purchased my hearing aids and haven’t looked back! I am hearing small things, that make such a massive difference, like the birds singing or a clock ticking! I am more engaged with my kids, I have stopped annoying my wife by ignoring her, and the family home is more in harmony because I can hear everything they can.

At work, I am fully aware of everything everyone is saying in meetings. I travel a lot with my work and having my aids connect by Bluetooth to my phone means that if I am on a train, plane or in a hotel room, I can listen to my phone, or watch my iPad etc without needing an extra set of headphones , as I can stream the music or audio into my hearing aids. Not only that, but when driving, I often have two phones with me (my personal and my work phone) so I can use either phone, with my work phone connected to the car bluetooth and my personal phone connected to my hearing aids Bluetooth. This has proved quite life changing for me when travelling during working hours.

The only negative I can find to say about my experience with Rob Donnan is that I wish I had found him 10 years ago!

I cannot recommend his services highly enough.”



Oticon Opn 1 worn with a middle-ear implant

5 out of 5 stars

“Life Is Switched On”

img_4576At 4 years of age, I was seen as a naughty child. I wasn’t listening to teachers at school, I had a delay in my language development and suffered from constant fatigue. After a routine hearing test in school, I was diagnosed with a mild hearing loss. At 13 years old, my hearing became progressively worse (moderate loss), and I received my first pair of NHS hearing aids. I was embarrassed to admit my hearing loss as it was now more obvious. Bullying/teasing at school led me to hide my hearing aids under my hair, or not wear them at all. I relied on coping strategies (lip reading, note takers, subtitles, teacher of the deaf) and struggled through rather than excelled in school.

An MRI scan at 22 years old lead to my surgeon diagnosing me with a severe bilateral conductive hearing loss and otosclerosis. In 2014 after 10 operations and endless ear infections, I was lucky enough to become one of the first recipients of a Middle Ear Implant. My appointment at ‘The Switch On’ was a life changing day. Unfortunately I was unable to receive another implant for my other ear, as during surgery there was too much infection to attach the implant. This meant I had to wear my NHS hearing aid on my right ear. The unnatural sound, mould causing reoccurring infections and bulky size on my small ears, just wasn’t good enough for me. I wanted the same feeling I got previously at ‘The Switch On’.

I can state confidently, I got it! Since I purchased The Oticon Opn, I have heard sounds I don’t ever remember being able to hear. Examples being the biting point/revs in my car and certain frequencies of bass whilst listening to music. Whilst wearing the Oticon Opn, I have had no ear infections (now I don’t have a mould in my ear), and I’m now able to use the telephone independently. The ability to stream telephone calls and music right into my ear is fantastic. I am now able to enjoy music like never before as I don’t rely so much on the vibrations, I can hear the different frequencies. My friends have commented, noting my concentration fatigue has been reduced as I don’t have to rely so much on lip reading and worrying about feeling isolated in conversations.

All this, I have Rob at RJD Hearing Care to thank for! He allowed me to trial different hearing aids to find the right device to suit my needs. Throughout the fitting process, he was knowledgeable and was only interested in what works for my lifestyle. He listened, valued my opinion and I was never pressurised to buy at any stage of the trial period.

Having a deaf identity is important to me. I’m proud to wear my Hearing Aid and Middle Ear Implant. Rob, for giving me back my independence and increasing my confidence, I can’t thank and appreciate it enough!

Nuala Donnellan, 26

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