Sarah Reygate understands glamour.
As a professional makeup artist she’s used to working with some of the world’s top fashion photographers and can call celebrities like Sharleen Spiteri, Bryan Ferry and Elle Macpherson friends as well as regular clients.
Sarah also understands hearing loss.
“When I was in my early 20s a friend came round and was shocked that my television was on, what he described as, ‘rhino-stun’ volume,” she laughs. “It was so loud he was pinned to the wall. And I could barely hear it. I was dragged to a doctor and they found that 50% of my hearing was gone. It had deteriorated so gradually that I hadn’t notice it.”
Sarah’s hearing loss was due to a hereditary condition called otosclerosis. The tiny bones in her middle ear, which normally transmit sound as a vibration to the delicate nerve endings in the inner ear, had fused together and for nearly 20 years Sarah wore a behind-the-ear hearing aid from the NHS.
This ‘solution’ only had two faults. It didn’t fit properly and it barely improved her hearing.
“It was so badly fitted,” she recalls. “I was just so aware that I was wearing it the entire time. It would drop out and I’d have to put it in again. I’d keep getting ear infections. At one point I even had a scab form inside my ear. I just thought that was normal when you needed a hearing aid.”
“When you can’t hear, people think you’re not paying attention or you’re just plain stupid. And when you’re asking people to say something again, they don’t actually repeat themselves. They never say the same thing twice. They get irritated or they abbreviate what they said or they give up. I used to get shouted at on sets because I hadn’t heard the call for makeup. I’d explain that I had a hearing aid and they’d be ridiculously conciliatory. I just got used to missing things.”
Sarah didn’t know how much she was missing until an international rock star delivered some blunt advice and made an offer she couldn’t refuse.
“I was working on a photo shoot with Bryan Adams, who is a great photographer as well as a singer,” continues Sarah. “We were waiting for Bryan Ferry to arrive. I told Bryan Adams that I was going to drive him mad, because in studios with high ceilings it was really hard for me to hear even with my hearing aid.
“He just said, ‘Well that’s not very good is it. You need a new hearing aid.’ He works with Hear the World, a charitable initiative run by Phonak a Swiss hearing company and said that if I could persuade Bryan Ferry to do a photo shoot for the charity, he’d ask Phonak to sort out my hearing aids for me.”
It didn’t take much to convince Bryan Ferry to do that shoot, and a week later Sarah received a call from Phonak in Switzerland telling her to go to see AIHHP Member Robert Beiny, a Harpenden based audiologist who also acts as a spokesperson for the global charity campaign.
That trip to Hertfordshire changed Sarah’s life forever.
“I was at The Hearing Healthcare Practice (HHP) for three and a half hours!” she recalls. “The audiologist was the most caring I had ever met and he asked me so many brilliant questions that I felt finally someone was listening to me. The tests were more comprehensive then anything I had experienced before and the attention to detail was incredible.
Robert was the first person I had seen who was interested in how my hearing problems were affecting my life. He cared far beyond the level I had come to expect. I was quite moved. When he saw my hearing aid he looked genuinely upset about it. It was fitted badly and my hearing was no good even with it. He said it should have been in a museum.”
With the support of Phonak, Sarah was fitted with 2 different sets of hearing aids, in-the-ear and over-the ear. The difference was instantaneous.
“There was so much sound coming in!” she enthuses. “It was like I hadn’t heard before. I’d only had a hearing aid on one ear, and now I had them in both. I came home and had to turn my TV right down! It was unbelievably different.
“I prefer wearing the in-ear hearing aids if I’m honest. I appreciate that the over the ear devices are technically better and lift my hearing to the next level but for convenience the in the ear are easier to manage at times. Once they’re in I can’t see or feel them. They’re so comfortable. I’ve had no earaches or ear infections. I’ve even fallen asleep with them in.”
HHP’s expertise has done more than improve Sarah’s hearing. She’s the first to admit it’s made her better company.
“I used to really talk over people,” she laughs. “Because I couldn’t hear what they were saying I’d do all the talking and I’d interrupt them without knowing. I’m far less irritating now!”
Sarah understands glamour. Jetting to Brazil or Australia at short notice for photo shoots is just one perk of the job for celebrity makeup artists. But for Sarah, a trip to the AIHHP Centre of Excellence in Harpenden Hertfordshire is as enjoyable as the sunniest location.
“I go back to HHP to fine tune the hearing aids,” she explains. “Not that anything needs doing. I love going to see the whole team as they’re so caring. It’s a day out for me and I come out on Cloud 9. All the audiologists @ The Hearing Healthcare Practice have the same amount of dedication and go to extremes to help.”
My audiologist has been in constant contact, sending me emails to check how I’m getting on. The aftercare is just so good, it’s nice to know that if I ever I need anything there is always a friendly recognisable voice at the end of the phone to speak to.< Back to Reviews