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Author Topic: Story: Plain Jane  (Read 1461 times)

Offline Sparky

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Story: Plain Jane
« on: 09. June 2021, 19:30:49 PM »
Ok, so I just came up with a "chapter 1" of a new story to share with you. I have no idea yet where this story will go, but I can say that it's likely to be a while before I continue it, as I want to work on my "Asian Braces" story. The main character is Jane Smith, a fairly plain girl. I'm guessing she's maybe 5ft 4in or 5ft 6in tall, fairly slim. She has long reddish / brownish hair, and a pretty average complexion.

Feel free to make suggestions of any sort.

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Chapter 1

My appointment was at 4:30, so I left work at just after 4: that would give me time to find somewhere to park the car, then walk through town. Luckily the traffic today was light, and I made good time. I walked through the door at 4:25, so was 5 minutes early.

"Good afternoon" said the lady on reception, "How can I help you today?"

"I'm Jane Smith - I have an appointment at 4:30"

"Let me take a look - ah yes, Mr Jones... Just a moment." She printed off a couple of sheets, and put them onto a clipboard. "Will you follow me please?" She walked me to the other end of the 'shop' and asked me to sit down. She placed the clipboard in a small rack just outside the door.

I sat there feeling a little nervous. I picked up one of the magazines, and had a look through it, to try and pass the time.

A couple of minutes later a guy, I would say in his mid 30's, came out, took the clipboard from its rack, and took a quick look at it. "Jane Smith?" I stood up and walked over to the door where he was standing. "Hello, Jane, please come in, I'm David Jones. Do take a seat..."

"Thanks" I said a bit nervously. My eyes scanned the room: it looked like it did double purpose, being used sometimes for measuring people's sight... in fact just like the other rooms here, which I had been into when I got my eyes tested, and indeed got my latest glasses, a couple of months ago.

"So, I see that you've been referred by your doctor: have you ever had your hearing tested before?" he asked me in a very pleasant voice

"No, I haven't - I've been here for my glasses, but not my hearing" I replied with a slight smile.

"So I'm assuming that you have noticed that you have some sort of hearing issue?"

"Yes, the biggest problem I have is hearing people properly in the office, which is affecting my work, and annoying other people"

"I can understand that. When else do you have problems?"

"Well, when I'm out with friends, down the pub, it's obvious everyone else can hear what someone is saying, but I have problems. And I've noticed, when I'm at a friend's place, I sometimes have problems hearing the TV"

"What about when the room is quiet, can you hear ok then?" he said, fairly softly

"Yes, I can hear you fine, it's nice & quiet in here and there's no background noise getting in the way..."

"Ok, that makes a lot of sense. Do you suffer tinnitus at all? Permanent or occasional tones or noises in one or both your ears?"
 
I thought for a moment "Yes, I do... I occasionally get a sort of 'dirty whistle' in both my ears, and thinking about it, that's usually after we've played a gig. But I really only notice is when it's quiet".

"You play in a band?"

I laughed. "I've played guitar in a Metal Rock band for the last 7 years..."

"And I'm guessing you've never used ear protection?"

"No, never... You think that could be the problem?"

David nodded. "I was going to ask you if you had any thoughts on what might have caused your hearing issues, but I think you may have answered that... Have you ever had any illnesses that caused any problems with your hearing?"

"No, not that I remember"

"Well, I'll know better when I've measured your hearing, but the way you describe you hearing issues matches very well with noise-induced hearing loss. We see it in older people who have worked in noisy factories, but we're starting to see it more in younger people, such as yourself, who regularly go to loud gigs, or play in bands."

What he said made a lot of sense. I don't remember any single event that caused it, I'm guessing it just got worse over time. A bit like my needing glasses. When I started at secondary school, my eyesight was pretty good: I could see the board or screen ok from the back of the room. But it seems that, as I grew, so did my eyes, but not in quite the right way, and by the end of my first year at secondary school, I needed glasses.

"So, let me explain how we test your hearing...". It wasn't all that difficult. After looking into my ears, like my doctor did, he gave me some fairly tightly fitting headphones, as well as a button to press. He played different tones - so different pitches, different volumes - and if I heard the tone, I pressed the button. Some of the tones were easy to hear, but some were very quiet, and I'm sure I pressed the button a couple of times when he wasn't playing me a tone!

Finally, he indicated for me to remove the headphones. "Did I pass?" I asked with a big joking smile, which made him smile too.

"Come and have a look on the computer screen". I stood up and went over to him, so I could see the screen. "So, that's your left ear, that's your right... they actually match up pretty well. On the left are the lower frequencies, low notes: you can see that your hearing is actually quite good there, slightly above normal. But as we get into the middle and high frequencies, you can see the curve dropping off, indicating that you have a moderate hearing loss at the higher end, which matches up with what we see in people with noise-induced hearing loss".

I stood there, feeling slightly shocked. I mean, I knew I had a problem, but I think I'd been ignoring it, hoping it might just 'go away'. But here was the proof, right in front of me: I actually HAD a problem with my hearing!

"So, please take a seat again, and we can discuss what I can do for you"

"I'm guessing you mean... hearing aids?". Shit, I'm only 26! And I am slightly deaf! So I'm going to need hearing aids, with lumpy earmolds and thick, obvious, tubes? Shit!

"Yes, but don't worry, modern hearing aids are surprisingly small and discrete. I guess the first thing I need to ask is are you interested in considering private hearing aids, or are you looking to go with the NHS one, which of course won't cost you anything"

"Erm, I was assuming the NHS ones, but how much are private ones, and are they actually going to be any better for me?"

"Very good question. The prices for private aids starts at just under 500 pounds, and can go up to just over 2500 pounds. The NHS aids are pretty much on a par with the lowest cost private aids, so you'd be looking at about 900 pounds to get something better."

I winced. 900 quid was a LOT of money, money which I could use for other things - like getting contacts, or even.... yes, even those things. "Erm, would it make sense to maybe start off with the NHS ones, then consider private ones if I have issues?"

"Oh, absolutely. And to be honest, most people with a moderate hearing loss like yours find the NHS aids work well for them. Let me show you what they look like, then I can programme them up, and you can see how you get on with them". David stood up, and opened a cupboard, and took out a couple of small boxes, and a couple of small plastic bags with something in them.

"So, this is the hearing aid" he said, showing it to me. It was tiny, no more than about 3 cm long. "And this is the bit that goes into your ear". He opened one of the small bags and removed a really thin tube with a sort of thin tiny umbrella on the end (no more than 1 cm in diameter!).

"And what about the lumpy earmold bit?" I asked

"These use what we call 'thin tube technology'. Traditional hearing aids used to block your natural hearing, and provide all of what you heard. These don't block your natural hearing, they just add back in the higher frequencies that you need. Let me clip the two together, and you can try it in". He clipped one of the tubes onto the hearing aid: the result was something that didn't look at all big or obvious. "Can you turn around so I can get to your right ear?".

I turned my head to him, and I could feel him gently pulling my hair to the side, then putting the hearing aid into my ear. "That seems to fit you pretty well, and your glasses don't seem to be an issue".

I was very surprised: I could hardly feel the weight of the hearing aid on my ear, and the small tube with its soft 'umbrella' was surprisingly comfortable in my ear, and my natural hearing felt almost unaffected.

"As I said, modern aids are quite discrete and comfortable" he said, passing me a hand-mirror. I pulled my hair back and saw.... well, I could see nothing. I looked a bit more carefully, and could see a tiny clear tube going over the top of my ear, then down and into my ear.

"That is amazing!" I said. "I can hardly see or feel it!". My previous negativity towards the idea of getting hearing aids suddenly evaporated.

"Great, well let me programme up a pair for you, then we can see how they sound to you, and I'll then double-check how they fit. Would you like to remove that hearing aid... just pull it upwards and outwards....

I did as instructed, and the hearing aid came out of my ear without a problem. He took the aid, and got a second aid out of its box, opened what I later discovered was the battery door, and slid in a tiny ribbon, then closed the tiny door. He did the same on the second aid, then turned to his computer, and started typing and using the mouse.

"Ok, done" he said, no more than a minute later. "Let me put some batteries in, and you can try them out". He opened the battery door of each aid, removed the tiny electrical ribbon, and put in a tiny round battery. I turned first to the left, then to the right, letting him put the hearing aids into my ears.

"So, how do they sound?".

Wow! I mean WOW! His voice sounded lovely and crisp and clear and clean. My smile went from ear to ear.

"I'm guessing that things are sounding a lot clearer for you?"

"Absolutely! They are amazing.... but my own voice sounds a bit strange..."

"Don't worry, that is quite normal, you'll soon get used to it. From what my customers tell me, it's a bit like the first time you get glasses: your sight is lovely and clear, but you can see the frames, and there's a strange distortion at the edges of the lenses. But after a while, all that becomes quite normal. You'll get a similar thing with the hearing aids: they'll sound a bit strange to begin with, but after a while it will become natural. We suggest that you wear the hearing aids as much as you can, and give it a month or two for your brain to get used to the new sounds."

The most amazing thing about all that he just said was that I was able to clearly hear every bit of it. It sounded a bit odd, a little bit 'tinny', but I guessed that was the extra high frequencies the hearing aid was pushing into my ear.

David then got me to take them out and put them in again a few times, until I was happy doing it. Then he showed me the various parts of the hearing aid, describing how to remove the 'ear tips' and 'tube' for when they needed to be replaced, and explained how to clean it all (the hearing aids each came with a small box, which included a tiny brush with a small magnet on the end). Then he explained how to change the batteries, and how the battery door acted as an on-off switch too.

"So, how long do the batteries last?" I asked. The batteries themselves were tiny, about the size of a slightly flattened pea.

"Between a week and two weeks. I'll give you a stock of batteries, which should last you about 3 months. Just come in to the shop and ask the receptionist when you need some more. Same for the tubes and tips, I've put some spares into the boxes for you. The tips I've given you are the 'normal' ones, and most people find they work ok... their job is to just hold the tube centrally in your ear, but there are a couple of slightly different versions if you have any problems."

"Thank you very much" I said, still smiling from the joy of being able to hear things more clearly.

"If you have any problems, just get in touch with us, and if you can make an appointment for about 8 to 12 weeks time, I can check that everything is going ok for you. Do you have ANY questions you'd like to ask?".

"No, I think I'm fine". David passed me the small plastic bag with everything in, and opened the door. As I went outside, I could hear more of the background noises in the shop than I had heard before. Outside the shop, I could hear all sorts of things, including... was that a bird that I just heard chirping?

Back home I took a look at myself in the mirror. I would never describe myself as a pretty girl, I was very much a plain girl. A Plain Jane.

I have fairly long brown/red hair: today it is down, but I often wear it back in a ponytail: I pulled my hair back into a ponytail, to see how visible my hearing aids would be: the small hearing  aids are a sort of pinky brown colour, which makes them a lot less obvious, and my hair seems to cover the aids anyway. And I could only see the tiny tubes when I was actually looking for them. Luckily, my ears are big enough that there's no problems with both my glasses and my hearing aids being over / behind my ears.

So, I looked at my face again. I recently got some new glasses, which I'm really please with. They are apparently made of titanium, so the side bits are quite bendy yet strong. The metal frames around the lenses are really thin, and the shape seems to fit my face.

I smiled, thinking back to the first pair of glasses I ever got. I was 11, nearly 12, and my mum chose them. She thought I looked 'cute' in them, but the reality was that they were horrible, and I got teased quite a bit about them. That was the last pair that mum ever chose for me! My second pair were a lot better, but I still got teased a bit.

Yeah, you've probably realised by now that my self-esteem is a bit on the low side. Ok, so I look a bit plain, but I don't look THAT bad... until I open my mouth that is!


Offline retained

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Re: Story: Plain Jane
« Reply #1 on: 10. June 2021, 01:16:56 AM »
Yes. A great, detailed start. Think we can guess what might need sorting out next!!

Offline napacaster

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Re: Story: Plain Jane
« Reply #2 on: 10. June 2021, 06:03:01 AM »
Wonderful start! Plenty of detail, I like that.

Offline jonjon

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Re: Story: Plain Jane
« Reply #3 on: 10. June 2021, 16:22:14 PM »
Great beginning to your story  I wonder what Jane will get next? Looking forward to the next chapter

Offline aktivator82

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Re: Story: Plain Jane
« Reply #4 on: 10. June 2021, 16:50:24 PM »
awesome begin for a story... excited what will be the treatment for the braces

Offline silver-moon-2000

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Re: Story: Plain Jane
« Reply #5 on: 10. June 2021, 21:02:51 PM »
Very nice start. I'm pretty jealous of your way of writing, I must confess  >:D

Offline Sparky

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Re: Story: Plain Jane
« Reply #6 on: 11. June 2021, 04:47:56 AM »
Yes. A great, detailed start. Think we can guess what might need sorting out next!!

Yeah, I reckon she needs a good haircut too!

Online agarionoob

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Re: Story: Plain Jane
« Reply #7 on: 17. June 2021, 21:04:51 PM »
I like the characterization and detail you put into your descriptions. It really feels like we get to know who Jane is.

Offline eddiestobbart

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Re: Story: Plain Jane
« Reply #8 on: 19. June 2021, 17:34:26 PM »
Fascinating story - I'm really enjoying the direction you're taking.