Hearing aids provide safety net to couple

Charles pictured with his wife Eileen.
Charles pictured with his wife Eileen.

Charles Carmichael’s new hearing technology has proved to be a lifesaver within weeks of being fitted.

When his diabetic wife, Eileen, collapsed at their home in Newton Mearns recently, he was able to talk to the 999 responder so they could identify if she was having another stroke.

Charlie said: “Her breathing was so faint, but I was able to hear her voice through my Baha (bone anchored hearing aid) and answer the responder’s questions.”

But thanks to the new technology – called a Cochlear Baha 5 SuperPower launched in the UK in June – Charles can now hear his wife from any room in the house or the garden if she calls for help.

“I call it a lifesaver – it is a huge leap forward,” said the 64-year-old.

Eileen agrees. “If anything happens and I need to raise the alarm, he can immediately hear me – I feel safer,” she said.

Since he was a boy, Charles struggled with his hearing and had recurrent ear infections. Being dyslexic, his hearing loss was often confused as he was prone to mispronouncing words.

It wasn’t until he was in his late 40s that he was finally fitted with analogue hearing aids. Up until that point, he had got by at home and work by lip-reading. The hearing aids however didn’t help the ear infections and when these occurred he had to go without the aids relying once again on his lip-reading.

But the worst was yet to come. Within a few years of being upgraded to digital hearing aids with hypoallergenic ear pieces, Charles started to suffer continual runny ears that turned his world upside down.

“It would literally pour down the side of my face. I couldn’t sleep properly because as soon as I laid down my pillow was wet.”

He spent many a night sleeping in his wife’s reclining chair rather than his bed because he couldn’t bear to have his head on damp pillows.

The infection affected his balance greatly. He could no longer do jobs around the house. But the biggest challenge, both physically and mentally, came at work.

“I felt so insecure and embarrassed as I thought the first thing people looked at when they saw me was my runny ears. I had to have my phone labelled with big stickers to prevent other people using it,” said Charles.

As well as embarrassment, the runny ears meant Charles could not wear his hearing aids and he was totally reliant on lip-reading.

Help came when the results of tests to investigate the cause of the runny ears were sent to an audiologist at The New Victoria Hospital. They realised there was nothing more that could be done to stop the discharge, and recommended Charles was fitted with a Baha – a hearing technology which transfers sound by bone vibration directly to the cochlea, bypassing the outer and the middle ear where the infection lay.

He had his first Baha fitted on his left ear in 2012 and immediately noticed a difference with his runny ear which had started to dry up. Three years later, he had his right ear fitted with a Baha and no longer has a problem with infections.

Having been upgraded to the latest Baha hearing technology in June, Charles can barely contain his excitement.

He said: “My original Bahas were fantastic, but I still struggled in big groups, but with these new ones I can hear questions from the back of a room and have conversations with background music on – it’s no problem.”

For more information on discharging ears and hearing loss visit I Want To Hear or discuss your current condition with your GP.