Young actress describes ‘life-changing’ hearing consultation from Amplify audiologist

Young actress describes ‘life-changing’ hearing consultation from Amplify audiologist

Young actress describes ‘life-changing’ hearing consultation from Amplify audiologist

A young actress has explained how an appointment with an Amplify audiologist has changed her life, after years of struggling with an undiagnosed hearing problem.

Eve Oliver, 21, from Bedfordshire, was for years told by specialists that her hearing was normal, despite the fact she struggled to understand friends in crowded social situations and relied on lip reading.

It wasn’t until a visit to her local independent opticians, Donne & Browning, that Amplify audiologist Kaz Shiraz was able to diagnose her issue and provided her with devices that have given both her hearing and her confidence back.

Read Eve’s full story in her own words:


“I’ve always loved all things performing arts, and at 16, I was taking classes left right and centre for all kinds of dance, singing, acting – you name it! It was then that I first realised my hearing wasn’t ‘normal’. I had taken my glasses off (I am short sighted, and would take my glasses off to dance, but hadn’t yet got used to using contacts).  I was sitting with the others, waiting for the teacher to come back into the room. As I waited, I realised the whole room was a blur – not just visually, but audibly as well. I couldn’t work out what anyone around me was saying and it was like sitting inside a bubble, and outside that bubble the world was blurry and muffled.  

When I went home, I explained to my parents who booked me in for an appointment to have my ears syringed as we assumed this would be the reason behind everything sounding busy and muffled.  However, at the appointment, the Dr said there was nothing to syringe in my ears, and the canals looked normal to him. As a result, he referred me on to ENT (Ear, Nose and Throat) at the local hospital to have them check why my hearing didn’t seem right. 


In the weeks leading up to my appointment, I’d go out regularly with a friend from school, I mentioned about having my hearing checked as the more I thought about it, the more I realised I didn’t always hear everything. I joked to her saying ‘So if I don’t ever respond to you, I’m not ignoring you, I just probably haven’t heard you!’ She just looked at me and said ‘Eve half the time you don’t respond to me, I just thought that’s how you were! I used to take it personally but I haven’t in years’ I was gutted.  My best friend thought I had been ignoring her for years, and that I was only speaking to her if I felt like it, and that was horrible to hear. It made me want to get my hearing sorted once and for all.  


When my appointment rolled round, the Consultant did a hearing test, which showed I fell within normal range, I was surprised, and started to ask questions, because I was sure I couldn’t possibly hear as well as others around me, and I couldn’t understand why. Remembering what my friend had said about me ignoring her filled me with dread as I didn’t know what I was missing. 


The Consultant was very dismissive and really upset me.  He told me as I fell within the normal hearing range, there was nothing more to do, and he discharged me from ENT there and then.  I remember getting into the car with my Dad after the appointment and sobbing, feeling lost, not knowing what I had missed and what I would miss in future during conversations, and trying to accept that I probably just wasn’t concentrating as hard as I should when I was talking to people or in social situations. 


Throughout my early-mid-twenties I worked out various strategies to help me understand what people were saying to me. It was very clear – the busier the situation, the harder I had to work.  I realised I had become heavily reliant on lip -reading (this is why when I took my glasses off in that dance class, on reflection, I realised I couldn’t read anyone’s lips to help me understand what they were saying). Of course, each person you come across speaks slightly differently, and you learn the shape their mouth makes for certain sounds so the more I got to

know someone, generally, the easier it became. Social situations were a lot more tricky. If I was out for a meal with friends, for me, people talking in the background mixed with music playing in the background sometimes felt louder than the person I was sitting next to, so trying to stay fully engaged with that one person became very hard work. I’d lose chunks of sentences even when putting all the effort I could into lip-reading and end up guessing what that person was saying.  I learnt to have a number of phrases or sentences in my head ready for events like that so I could almost second guess what people were saying to me in order to try and keep up with the conversation. Of course, at a big meal with friends, you aren’t just talking to the person directly next to you, but across the table too – so I’d normally take part as fully as I could before I just became too exhausted and ended up nodding along to half sentences that I would catch when I could. I started working in the independent film industry as an actor, and as much fun and fulfilment I had from days on set, there was always the dread of working with new people, and not knowing if I would hear them, if they would think I was stupid for asking them to repeat over and over, and what they would think when I gave up and just nodded along. Of course that took its toll on my confidence. That coupled with the mask wearing during the pandemic, I lost the ability to lip-read, and it just felt so pointless trying – but of course, I had to keep trying because I needed to hear. 


Over the years, I’ve had people I loved, cared about and respected telling me ‘It’s not your hearing, you just don’t bother to listen’ and words to that effect. When trying to listen and understand is hard work all the time, hearing the people I loved saying that always hit me hard, and it never got easier. 


A few months ago, I decided I would go to Donne and Browning (my opticians) as I saw they also provided a hearing service. I was at the point where I thought, well what do I have to lose? I saw Kaz Shiraz, the Audiologist and briefly explained my story. He went ahead and did a full hearing test for me too.  As before at the Hospital, my test results showed my hearing to be within the normal range.  Kaz advised that my symptoms resonated with those experienced by people with something called APD (Auditory Processing Disorder), something I had never heard of. Kaz explained what APD was and the impact of it and advised that in some cases low level amplification can help in the situations I was finding most challenging as well as other communication tactics. He tried some hearing devices on me and told me to go for a walk in town, and see how it felt. 


Immediately the room sounded sharper, and more crisp. And as I left the building and stepped onto the street I started crying. All the sounds around me weren’t a muffled mess of noise, but they were individual conversations, words, birds, music and for the first time that I can remember, I could hear all these things with 

clarity.  It was overwhelming.  I went into a shop across the street and bought just a pack of sweets. Normally, when I pay, I have added the total or check the screen so I know how much (in a busy shop I wouldn’t ever hear a cashier clearly). I looked down to my purse for the money and clear as anything the lady said ‘just 50p then please’.  I couldn’t believe it – I heard her and I didn’t have to try. I wasn’t concentrating on listening, I just heard. It was incredible, and yes, I, as a grown woman left that shop a sobbing mess. 


Kaz was incredible, he listened and understood everything I had told him and he was able to set me up with hearing devices, a few weeks later they were fitted and my life has completely changed.  The draining energy that was needed to listen to everything and try and filter through background noise all the time was like a weight lifted from my shoulders.  I’ve noticed in social situations I’m enjoying fully participating in the conversations until the end of the night, and not feeling exhausted. I have no dread about meeting new people either.


 One of the best things about the hearing devices, is that they are so discrete – I decided to only really tell immediate family I was having them, and I have been out with friends and family, and not one person has even noticed I am wearing them – I actually explained to a friend when I was with her that I now wear hearing devices and she couldn’t see them even when I drew her attention to them!  Access to hearing devices, and understanding that simple amplification was not what I needed but the ability to clarify the speech and change settings dependant on the situation has given me so much freedom and give me my confidence back.   Thank you so much”


We’re delighted to have been part of Eve’s journey to better hearing and we wish her all the best in her future career.


If you would like to find out more or book an appointment, contact us today.