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After my sudden hearing loss, as a mother, wife and cookery teacher, hearing became a complex business. I spend a lot of my time in noisy situations including kitchens and classrooms. My hearing aids are very personal and need to be programmed to my lifestyle. It’s not just a case of walking into a shop, having some tests and walking out again.
I need a service tailored to me, rather than an off-the-shelf product. IHP is a network of highly skilled independent hearing businesses who have been helping people to hear for decades. All IHP members are small, independent, family-run practices who work and serve their local communities and have grown through generations of trust and word of mouth referral.
The service they offer goes beyond hearing aids – a truly holistic approach to hearing care.
Nikki Magrath – Just Keep Stirring – running her cookery course – especially designed for hearing aid wearers
Living well with hearing loss
Nikki Magrath, Cookery Teacher at Just Keep Stirring, Mother & Wife
“It was the biggest lesson I learnt and I learnt it early on. Don’t be self-conscious, be honest. I realised I couldn’t expect people to guess – and I didn’t want to come across as rude. I had to tell them I couldn’t hear. I discovered that people are really happy to help me.” Nikki Magrath
Nikki Magrath has always heard the world a little differently. In childhood she suffered hearing problems, exacerbated by an operation to remove her tonsils and adenoids at age 11. Despite a further operation, the hearing loss was permanent. Nature took over and Nikki’s brain worked hard to compensate. At this time she still had one hundred percent hearing in one ear, but the other operated at only twenty-five per cent.
In her late thirties, now with two young children reliant on her, Nikki’s hearing changed overnight.
The Sound of Silence
Nikki was living in California when she suffered sudden and complete hearing loss in her “good ear”. Overnight, Nikki was effectively all-but-completely deaf. The GP suggested “congestion” but a specialist diagnosed Sudden Hearing Loss caused by viral nerve damage.
“Vanity went out of the window,” said Nikki, “I dug out my old NHS hearing aid and wore it!
“My first thought was, how I am going to teach my son to read if I can’t hear him?”
Flying to England for a week’s holiday, Nikki could hear virtually nothing, not her children, the flight safety announcements, or her parents who she’d flown over 5,000 miles to visit. It was a scary time. Nikki’s was no simple hearing problem. The one-size-fits-all hearing aids were unsuited to Nikki’s needs, as she found out when she visited a High Street hearing chain. Instead she plucked from the phonebook the details of local independent hearing specialist Aston Hearing, in Amersham. Greeted with calm sympathy and overarching good advice, it was a relationship that was to span more than a decade.
“Hearing’s a complex business. Hearing aids are very personal. They need to be programmed for your specific hearing requirements and tailored to your lifestyle.” With typical determination and bravery Nikki learnt to adapt to her condition. At first, she found conversations tiring, other conversations she would make mistakes and learnt to laugh at herself, instead of taking it to personally.
For every patient there’s significant work to be done to provide an optimum level of hearing. For Nikki, who spent a lot of time at the school gates, working in the kitchen, and teaching cookery, background noise is ever-present and hearing aids have helped to manage this.
“You have to learn to be a hearing aid wearer. Your brain needs to process new information differently. It’s a lot to take on board without you always being conscious of it.
It’s not just a case of walking into a shop, having some tests and walking out again. It is tailored to you, rather than an off-the-shelf product.”
Over the years Aston Hearing has become a confidential source of advice and a very essential lifeline. She’s had quick fixes in the form of a hearing aid adjusted to fit into a ski helmet, to avoid the issues of wind and vibrations, as well as a temporary replacement unit on loan when her own hearing aid suffered damage.
Aston Hearing is set up to solve the technical problems, keep up-to-date with all that’s new technology and to help you to make the most of your hearing and hearing aid.
Don’t Let Your Hearing Hold You Back
Just chatting with Nikki it’s clear that she lives life to the maximum. With help from the specialists she has the confidence to live a full life whether she fancies a visit to the theatre, a family skiing holiday or to take on a class full of students. Nikki recently began her own cookery venture, “Just Keep Stirring” where she makes learning to cook a simple and relaxed affair. This exciting new experience is usually based in the light and airy kitchen of Nikki’s family home or at the Bagnall Centre in Chesham. All classes are very much hands on and participants take home the food they prepare, to taste later. Just Keep Stirring is based on Nikki’s experience of working in the food industry over many years, involved in recipe development, food photography, cookery demonstrations at food fairs, on TV and radio.
Nikki’s is a story of triumph over adversity and as such, Aston Hearing has asked her to be part of a new programme called Learn2Listen, which offers a range of social activities tailored to people with hearing difficulties. As part of Learn2Listen, Nikki is teaching day classes in cookery and hosting evening foodie events. It’s about providing a fun and really safe environment for people to mix with others in similar situations, to share their problems and find solutions through talking.
Nikki says “It’s a time to laugh and relax whilst learning new cooking skills. And there’s no need to worry if you don’t hear something – it’s a problem I understand!”
So if you or anyone in your life has hearing difficulties or is a hearing aid wearer and wants to find out more about Learn2Listen, why not pop into Aston Hearing at Flint Barn Court, Church Street, Old Amersham, give them a call on 01494 733840 or drop an email to firstname.lastname@example.org. Alternatively why not drop in to their free monthly coffee morning – on the first Friday of each month from 10.00 till 12.00pm at St Mary’s Church Rooms, Amersham – see opposite page for more details.
For more details contact:-
Nikki at Just Keep Stirring – www.justkeepstirring.com or
Kate at Aston Hearing – www.astonhearing.com Tel:- 01494 733840