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We've fallen on our feet coming here

Audiologist Melanie Atkinson with Dale and Norma Metcalf

From the time I was a young child, my hearing wasn’t perfect. I recall when the district nurse came to our school, she used a stop watch at arm’s length to assess our hearing, and I didn’t pass that test.

Nevertheless, I wasn’t aware that I had an actual hearing loss. My wife Norma is a priest and has a soft voice, and I counselled her that if she wanted to present sermons, she’d have to speak up. (Incidentally, Norma wears hearing aids as she needs to hear what parishioners are talking about.) But I kidded myself that I just had selective hearing. I had to admit though that I did have difficulty hearing one of my daughters on the phone, as well as the granddaughters.

As Shire Council President between 2007-2017, I couldn’t hear what the women councillors were saying. In general I couldn’t hear women’s voices and I became aware that at times people thought I was arrogant because I didn’t respond. Norma would let me know that someone had been talking to me yet I hadn’t acknowledged what they were saying: that was because I didn’t know they were speaking to me.

I have been wearing hearing aids for 13 years and still wasn’t hearing well! I guess what really pushed me was that I’d been on the Dowerin Field Day’s Board for a number of years and there are generally quite a few women involved with that. It was challenging when we had meetings. With the air-conditioner going, I struggled to hear what was said, and this made it very difficult for me to participate. The enthusiasm with which friends spoke about their new hearing aids, prompted us to pursue a change. With these new aids I can definitely keep up with and be involved in the discussion, whereas previously I was guessing a lot of what people were saying. I didn’t realise how much I had been missing, with the previous hearing aids. The new background noise suppression programme is amazing!

It makes a big difference to acknowledge you have a hearing problem so you can do something about it. It’s been marvellous finding Melanie, and both Norma and I feel that we’ve fallen on our feet coming here. So if you think you have a hearing problem, don’t leave it too long because you could lose the ability to sort out the noise from the discussion. Don’t wait.

Dale & Norma Metcalf


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