Saturday, 21 November 2015

A Touch of Spa Therapy.

Re-acquainting myself with a 'Spa' experience.

Have you ever visited a Spa and all the treatments available? I was presented with the opportunity this week of a visit to a hotel Spa. This was a free visit as the holder of the winning ticket could not use the voucher. Perhaps they had seen me swimming in the pool. It is some years since I was a member of a hotel fitness centre with a pool.

Today was the day. Armed with flip-flops, bottle of water and some excitement mixed with trepidation I set off.  The first surprise was being given a swimming cap - so sweet (not) with the hotel's logo on the front -, a pair of ingeniously constructed flip-flops, a small bottle of water, and a huge towel. The largest I have ever seen.

After a short explanation I was left to my own devices. First things first, I went into the shower. A freezing cold shower I might add.
  1. Walking on a bed of pebbles in bare feet was agony but meant as a therapy for the feet.. The jets of water invigorating if a chilly shock.
  2. The pool was wonderful. A curtain of water flowing from a wide spout together with another further along were inviting. But the spout with four jets beating don into the pool was the one that I made a bee-line for. Allowing the warm jets to run up and down my back was bliss as it pounded the sore spots..
  3. The Jacuzzi was, well, a Jacuzzi. Bubbling away, it promised untold relaxation.
  4. Before going down  into the sauna and steam room area, I entered a door by the side of the Jacuzzi. What can this be? A circular room with small jets up the length and width of the walls. It wasn't a shower as such so I surmised that something should trigger off the jets. With trepidation, I ran my fingers over a static silver disc on the wall. Oh! The shock as freezing cold jets of water followed by hot ones attacked my lower legs. I waited with baited breath for the next onslaught as they stopped. Then . . .Oh! I gasped as a multitude of jets of water shot out to envelope my torso. Clinging on to the door handle for dear life and with steamed up spectacles, I sent up a prayer for deliverance. The relief when thee jets stopped was short lived as a deluge from above hit my head and almost drowned me. With steamed-up spectacles, I stumbled out when the jets had had their fun and headed for the cold shower again.
  5. Re-acquainting myself with a sauna was wonderful. I always did like a sauna and set the egg-timer off while I kept my eye on the clock so that I wouldn't go over my allotted hour. Again, another cold shower afterwards,
  6. There was another sauna-type room with a lower temperature but I didn't linger and decided not to bother with the steam room which was - well - very steamy.
Finishing off with yet another cold shower, I quickly changed and headed out all pummelled and jetted. So off now for a pedicure. Just to round off the pampering experience you understand. I don't think that I will avail myself of the chocolate massage on offer.

What a waste of good chocolate!

Rosalie xx

Monday, 9 November 2015

Malaga in the Sunshine.

Fish Market..

Malaga in the sunshine.

Malaga Cathedral.

First impressions many years ago.

Malaga is full of artistic and cultural experiences. My first impression of Malaga many years ago was not inspiring.  This was a short visit when taking the train from Fuengirola into the city. Since then there has been much development and a complete change of face. 

The beautiful city of Malaga has many faces.

Some years ago, when on a winter break in Nerja, (Costa del Sol), we had the opportunity to see the Christmas lights in Malaga. Apart from the stupendous light display and the life-sized Nativity scenes - with costumes made from real flowers - in the middle of roundabouts down the main street. From our seats in the coach we could see how modern the city had become. Huge wide pedestrianised boulevards were complemented with  modern shop fronts. We had the opportunity to stroll around in the bustling crowds of shoppers and soak up the atmosphere as lights twinkled from above, the pavements below, and shop windows. The harbour had been deepened to accommodate cruise liners and the subsequent improved city experience was part of this development.

I completely changed my impressions.

Malaga can be unexpectedly cold in November.  See:

Huddling into our coats, we sat in a sheltered spot near the Cathedral while we waited for the pick-up time.

But - Malaga in the sunshine is a complete contrast. The glorious buildings along the harbour glisten in the sunshine, while flags of many colours adorn the Town Hall. The city has many museums housed in ancient buildings. There is now a Ferris wheel (like the London Eye). Above all, there is the bustling sense of things good when strolling along the

wide, pedestrianised streets

Previously, due to the cold wind, we had only seen the back of the Cathedral as we sheltered from the cold. The front is a complete contrast. The beautiful pink and white stonework  has to be seen to be believed. In front, at the tables in the plaza, people gather to enjoy the food, drink and conversations with friends. A signpost tells you how far you have to travel to get home.

Another interesting place to visit is the Mercado - the central market - which is actually the fish market. Every stall is fish of all kinds.

At one end is a beautiful stained glass window in vibrant colours depicting elements of the fisherman's life.


Tuesday, 27 October 2015

Getting to Grips with Nero.

New jacket covers and filtering them through to other content.

With the onset of expanded eBook distribution coupled with new jacket covers for some titles, it was time to update the book video trailers. When I updated from Microsoft XP to Windows 7 I lost functionality of Pinnacle Studio video-editing software. I then updated my very out-of-date Nero [for burning discs but increasingly with some video editing functions] to Nero 14.

Yesterday, I was bemoaning the fact that I could do as much fancy footwork with slides that I could in Studio. Transitions and music were limited. Then I saw a link encouraging me to download content - for free.

Off I went, click, click and so on. The download [from Nero 2016 Platinum] took some time but lo and behold, I had all sorts of tools to play with.  It works well in Windows 10. Not content with updating the videos for the said new jacket titles, I went the whole hog, so to speak, and re-did others.

I have now restored videos on a page in this blog. Click here to view. The effects are dynamic but I have tried to keep it clean and unfussy. (It is amazing how wild and wonderful some of the tools and tricks are.) Since I have written a book with a sub-title 'Getting the Message Across' I had better practice what I preach.

Once I have completed this marketing update project, I will be able to go full steam ahead with Island Interludes which is  way behind and has been re-scheduled for sometime in 2016 (t.b.a.) No pressure there then.

Rosalie xx

Sunday, 25 October 2015

The Beautiful Sound of Voices in Song.

A follow-up to my last post. The wonderful clarity of natural sound.

It is a chilly and frosty Sunday morning. The clocks have 'gone back'; getting up early is no hardship. My husband is due to meet with a Gold Wing motor biking friend at the Ponderosa Cafe on the Horseshoe Pass, Llangollen. I have elected to miss out this time - I have much to catch up on in the technical department of marketing. Hence the early start and a an early visit to a small church not far away.

And then the organ let forth its wonderful sounds. The congregation sang with joy as usual, the deep baritones of the men mixing in harmony with the lighter voices of the ladies. It was as if another veil had been lifted. My traditional hearing aids had done that over twenty years ago but this was something different. This was sound as it was meant to be.

All the problems that I have experienced and lived with were insignificant. My new sound processor [BAHA] was amazing. Both ears were free. I felt normal. I too sang out with joy and renewed vigour. Having a little box on my head under my hair - I surreptitiously checked that my new, shorter haircut was still covering -  was well worth the clarity of sound and . . . I didn't have to lip-read as Iooked towards the priest and watched his lips. I looked away . . . I could hear as clear as a bell. In fact, I could hear every rustle too.

Tears were not far away. I have a plate on my kitchen wall which often gives me strength and a clear focus of the right way forward. I will share this with you and perhaps, if you too are experiencing some increasing loss of hearing, you will have the courage to check it out. I am not for a minute suggesting that you would have what I have now. Mine is a drastic measure to provide a solution to a chronic problem, but isn't modern technology and a surgeon's skill wonderful?

Have a wonderful day.

Rosalie xx

Wednesday, 21 October 2015

Living with Hearing Loss in the Twenty-First Century. Modern Technology.

A Personal Perspective.

Why hearing loss and not deafness? It is an emotive subject; different sufferers have different viewpoints and feelings. There are many stages of what is often loosely termed as 'deafness'. It is still such an unconscious stigma to many, both observers and the one inflicted with it but not I hope as great as it once was. 

My understanding is that 'deaf' relates to the severity of hearing loss, being at the top end of the spectrum from mild to severe and through profound to deaf. Many have a mild, age-related loss and have become used to 'putting up' with it - along with your family.

May I share what happened to me today and my own experiences over a lifetime? You may emphasise with some of it. If so, I hope that you feel encouraged to get your hearing checked out so that you can be fully into the world. I first penned much of the following some years ago. It has lain on file, unseen but not forgotten.

"The Impact of Hearing Loss.

Many of us relate deafness – or to be more precise, hearing loss – to the elderly, older people and being part and parcel of life. Much is made of other disabilities and learning difficulties such as Dyslexia and Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) to name just two, with support being provided for these. And rightly so.

Definition of disability under the Equality Act 2010
                “You’re disabled under the Equality Act 2010 if you have a physical or mental
                impairment that has a ‘substantial’ and ‘long-term’ negative effect on your
                ability to do normal daily activities.” 
        (sourced 19.12.2012)

However, there is a more insidious disability, which can be (or was in the case study below) swept under the carpet, ignored, and resulting in a label being applied to the sufferer. Think about it for a moment. You see someone wearing hearing aids; you know, those which fit over and behind the ear. What is your perception? That they are a little ‘not quite as clever as normal’ people? A little bit slow? A little bit stupid? Different? Especially if they are younger and working in a fast-paced organisation. Also hearing loss affects the sound of speech delivery.

They may not be what is medically termed as ‘deaf’. They may have a profound or severe hearing loss, the kind that Joe Public refers to as ‘being deaf’. Hearing loss, if not addressed, affects personal self-esteem, confidence, social life, family life, development, job prospects,  and psychological aspects of life to name a few.

A Case Study of someone who I will refer to as Mary.
This is Mary’s story:
 'You don’t listen!” This had been a constant admonishment throughout my life. At this latest accusation, I could only stand mute. I could not explain the problems and difficulties that I had experienced that afternoon. It was too personal.
In all my childhood and formative years I had felt as if I was on the inside, looking out. When I was seven years old, the school nurse detected a hearing problem but for reasons that I was later to understand, it was not addressed. True, I was a dreamer often retreating into a world of my own where I blotted out  everything around me. This, combined with my hearing problems gave rise to the perception that I wasn’t quite bright. In other words, a bit slow. At least not as bright and alert as my older siblings in whose shadow I grew up. I was quiet, shy, and lacking in confidence. Given how much I chattered at home, my family naturally found it hard to believe that outside the home, I hardly spoke. The big wide world was a frightening place in which I was always one step behind. Always ‘catching up’ as what was being said or discussed always penetrated my barriers of hearing that little bit later than my friends and colleagues. “What?” became a common remark from my lips!
I found it quite easy when reading a book to switch off leading my family to assume that I was not listening. In fact, I had not heard. In primary school, this led my teachers to think that I would not fare well in the 11+ scholarship but they reluctantly entered me. Contrary to some of my ‘clever’ friends, I actually found the sums easy and said so. No one believed me or expected me to pass but I confounded them all and did; my mother insisted that I took up the place at Grammar School. (I believe I have repaid her early faith in me.)
On starting work at 16 years of age, this undoubtedly affected my development and confidence. I had problems when answering the telephone. (At that time, home telephones were few and far between and I was not used to one, which compounded the problem.) I visited the doctor. She held a watch to my left ear and pronounced me deaf in that ear. Ouch! - stigma - different. Eventually, I had tests, followed by years of treatment and operations on the right ear (yes - the left one went by the wayside) which failed to clear the problem in the Eustachian tube. During this period I was raising a family (one of whom had the same problem which was largely ignored by his teachers who labelled him as not paying attention and lazy), and returned to work in a limited capacity. I struggled in meetings, especially if I had a heavy cold, which rendered me totally deaf. Eventually, over twenty years ago my surgeon suggested a hearing aid as the scarring on the eardrum from operations was exacerbating the problem. Reluctantly, I did - after I had grown my hair so that the aid could not be detected in work. It is perceptions you see that are one of the problems – from other people.

The NHS aid was good. The difference was amazing! Wonderful!
  • It was like lifting a curtain on the world!
  • I was not missing conversations any more.
  • I grew in confidence and applied for promotion.
  • You see, I knew that now I could cope in meetings. I could take a full part in discussions without having to say “What?” “Pardon?” while straining to hear in spite of sitting near to  the speaker (so that I could lip read).
  • I was aware of what was going on around me.
  • I appeared normal.

I was eventually told that there was a problem in the left ear  and that  NHS funding allowed an aid for that ear as well.  An unobtrusive in-the-ear type. Unfortunately, at this time the NHS did not provide digital hearing aids that had come onto the market. The effect of two analogue aids, which only addressed volume, in certain environments, caused too much noise in my head making me feel that I had my head in a drum and, more embarrassingly still, a high-pitched noise if my mobile phone went off in a confined situation. (I worked out in the workplace in all sorts of offices and rooms.)
After five years, I went down the private route and was fitted with an analogue aid (in one ear only at this time due to cost) which addressed both volume and range. This is an important aspect, as you need to hear what the sound is and where it is coming from.
The difference of wearing a discreet aid that addressed volume and range was amazing. I was not in trouble anymore for not answering the telephone in our large open plan office with its many departments. I could locate which phone was ringing! In addition, answer it immediately in a professional manner. I was part of the team; an outsider no longer.
Over the following fifteen years as digital aids became more available and affordable I updated my in the ear aids. I was able to have unobtrusive completely in the canal (CIC) to meet changing prescriptions. My problem is severe. However, it is addressed. That is the key.
 Over these fifteen - twenty years, I not only grew in confidence, but I undertook development programmes and achieved far beyond what anyone, least of all I, ever expected. It is confidence you see, that and being part of the wide-awake world. We are not stupid, not even deaf. We just have a hearing loss.
Sadly, for the time being due to further problems, I am back into wearing NHS aids, the design of which are limited by funding and after a private one, uncomfortable to say the least.
So, there we have it. A case study that is one example of the impact of hearing loss.
The organisation Action on Hearing Loss (formerly the Royal National Institute for the Deaf. RNID) (Twitter - @ActionOnHearing) are working to raise awareness and secure more funding.
                We want a world where hearing loss doesn't limit or label people, where tinnitus is                           silenced – and where people value and look after their hearing.” (sourced 19.12.2012)
How can you be treated fairly if the problem is swept under the carpet? It might help people to address the cosmetic issues and obtain more sophisticated and effective aids if an allowance of the cost of an NHS aid could be offset against a private one. Food for thought!
Specsavers Opticians in England are starting to carry out NHS hearing checks and supplying NHS hearing aids in their hearing centres in England. Being more accessible and psychologically more beneficial, this innovative programme should help to break down barriers for people seeking help. Your local hospital may have a drop-in system in Audiology for hearing tests without a referral from the doctor.
I hope that the long-term effect will be that:
  • People will not be so shy of admitting that there is a loss.
  • Referrals from the doctor will cut waiting times with hospital visits no longer the only option. A visit to a high-street opticians / hearing centre is less frightening.
  • The perceived stigma will disappear. After all there is no stigma to wearing spectacles is there?
Barriers to learning and development will be reduced if a hearing loss is recognised and   addressed as soon as is practicable.

To summarise.
The impact of hearing loss affects all walks and areas of life, which the case study above illustrates. However, everyone’s experience is different but includes:
  • Lack of confidence in life in general, at home, in work or at play.
  • Growth in learning and development of self.
  • A barrier to learning.
  • Labelling.
  • Exclusion.
  • Job prospects.
  • Direction of sounds.
  • In speaking as loud (or as quiet) as you can hear yourself, family members think that you are shouting or raising your voice.
  • Stressful for family members.
  • Family life.
  • Lack of alertness and awareness. Perception of being stupid/slow.
  • In traffic.
    The impact of the type of hearing aid is another consideration.
  • Confidence, both socially and in employment.
  • Functionality.
  • Comfort. If uncomfortable, the user will take it out. 
  • Cosmetic - lack of confidence if obtrusive. Restricted in choice of hairstyle.
On the plus side, if you want some peace and quiet, it is handy sometimes to be able, in the confines of your home, to reduce outside noise!
What to do next.
Do you suspect that you have a hearing loss? In the comfort of your home, take the 3-minute hearing check provided by Action on Hearing Loss at
“What?” “Pardon?”
©Rosalie Marsh December 2012

And Now?

Yes, I am Mary and over the last twelve months I have been travelling down the route of having a  Bone- Anchored Hearing Aid ( BAHA) fitted, which would bypass the problems of the middle ear and conduct sounds through the bone into the inner ear. [Hope I have that right.] I had a small operation a few weeks ago to have the implant for the abutment.
I must give my heartfelt thanks to Mr Snow and team in the ENT department at the Wrecsam Maelor, Anna Powell, Richard Matthias and team  in the Audiology department.
Today, I had the hearing aid fitted. It is silver. It is unobtrusive. It provides a marvellous sound. Richard today was very upfront about my condition and for the first time I heard how I have had a bad experience throughout life. I have just taken it on the chin and got on with it. His empathy made me tearful.  The power of Wi Fi for seamless connection to the setting-up procedure was an eye-opener. My family deserve huge 'thanks' for putting up with the surrounding problem throughout their lives - an unspoken aspect of hearing loss but there nevertheless.
My silver BAHA

I don't need - as far as I can tell - the aid in my left ear either as the sound is all around. There is an device to cover mobile phones. 

Surround sound? A bonus. 

After all these years I have been brought into the real world in a painless - well almost - way.  

And, I can tuck my hair behind my ear again. Roll on Saturday when my hair maestro Nat Cargius will get my hair to rights.
Where is it?

Walking down the hospital corridor towards the exit, our eldest daughter was heading towards us.(She is a Sister on the Special Care baby Unit and coming off shift.)
"Hi Mum!" I held out both arms as she strode towards me.
"I'm free! I'm free!"
A quick inspection and "Wow" came her reaction with a big hug..
Rosalie. xx

PS. Later, I switched on the computer and "It sounds like a tractor. We did say that we would change it next year."  The reply?
"It always sounds like that."  Say no more. . . .

Update October 24th 2015.
Today, I have completed my rehabilitation as a BAHA user. My skilled hairdresser Nat Cargius of Rossett, Wrexham, applied his expertise to give me a new shorter cut while maintaining cover over the 'sound processor' or BAHA.

Nat is a specialist consultant in cosmetic hair solutions under the Really, Really Me banner. Although I still have my own hair he has displayed the same patience, care, and skill to make sure my hair really, really is me. Thank you Nat.