Leeper, Gerry. Unheard Voices: interviews with deafened people
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Hearing Link Scotland Office, The Eric Liddell Centre, Edinburgh
Leeper, Gerald, 1937- (speaker, male)
Thallon, Ann, 1950- (speaker, female)
Schober, Karen (Speech-To-Text Reporter - Palantypist, female)
Part 1: Gerald Leeper [GL] born 1937, tenement in Bridgeton, Glasgow, of English parents. Family makeup. Pastimes as a child – comics / football. Attendance at Strathclyde Primary School. 2nd World War experiences: shelters, rationing, evacuation. [06:25] Attendance at Shawlands Senior Secondary school – academic progress. Effect of constructing with Meccano on ability in Technical Drawing and significance to later career. Friends playing football. [09:38] More family details. One brother in navy and one losing leg – both now deceased. One brother and one sister still living. [00:12:36]First investigation of hearing loss. GL aged 10. Negative experience at Glasgow hospital. Childhood illnesses didn’t stop GL playing football. [14:05] Leaving school at 15 for Engineering apprenticeship near home. Football continues as major hobby. Job as jig and tool draughtsman after apprenticeship. [17:59] GL’s social life in late 1950s. Learning to dance. Boat trip to Millport. Meeting future wife [19:40] Marriage at 22. Brief description of first, 25 year marriage. 3 children from marriage. Move to Essex, then back to Giffnock (Glasgow) Bad health and hearing problems emerge. [21:52] Detailed description of 1st attack of Meniere’s disease. Role of 3 year old son. Diagnosis of Meniere’s. Medication. 6 month spell of stabilisation. Working again but justified fear of losing job if condition recognised by bosses: demotion. GL’s feelings at point of onset of Meniere’s. ‘Drops’ explained: public’s misinterpretation of symptoms as ‘drunkenness’. Effect of condition on GL’s self confidence. How a ‘pre-warning’ of an attack feels. [28:53] Effect on wife, family and colleagues. Fear of losing responsible job led to camouflaging condition [00:32:24] GL’s feelings on being demoted. Firm’s support. Applications for another job – reasons why medical condition not mentioned on applications. 12 years after 1st attack, GL in remission but no hearing in left ear. [35:39] Explanation of hearing loss on context of Meniere’s. Coping strategies for compensating for hearing loss. Unsuccessful use of hearing aid. [38:12] Support of wife at this time. Return of Meniere’s after remission. GL now living in Edinburgh. Effect of medication. [40:52] Meniere’s now affecting hearing in right ear. Different hearing aids tried. Eventually even strongest ones (cross mike) not effective. Communication problems in meetings. Demotion results. Late 1970s disability support in the workplace. GL not aware he had any rights. Change of role to technical writer – job suited GL’s condition. Note taking strategies for communication. Arrangement with 1st Aider. Company supportive. Story of occupational nurse who thought GL was ‘faking’ condition. Job satisfaction good. Working in isolation suited condition but less money affected pension. [47:45] Meeting 2nd wife, Alison [AL]. Living in Edinburgh, working in big electrical firm. Story of firm burning down in 1999. GL retires but does contract work for 2 years. Great support from AL re profound hearing loss. Joint attendance at signing classes. Use of sign. Attendance at LINK residential intensive course in Eastbourne. Immediate effect on GL and AL. GL touches on volunteer role with LINK. [55:23] Lead up to GL’s cochlear implant operation. GL profoundly deaf for 7 years before operation. Role of consultant, Mr Kerr and Hearing Therapist, Ann Kennedy. Identification of just how little residual hearing GL had left. Reasons for GL’s strong reservations about having head drilled. Mr Kerr’s reassurance. Amusing incident on day of operation. Description of waking up from operation. Strong emotions on successful ‘switch on’ of implant. Adjusting settings of implant. [01:03:51] Cochlear implant was in 2004. Life changing effect of implant. Article for RNID. Anecdote of granddaughter now able to talk on phone to GL. How GL became involved in new hobby: silversmithing. [01:11:23] Unfortunate return of Meniere’s in recent times. Details of living with implant. Coping in crowds now, compared with pre-implant strategy. Positive reflection on life now. Final word of advice from GL to anyone who suffers from any kind of traumatic illness.
Interviewed for the project 'Unhead Voices: Interviews With Deafened People', conducted by Hearing Link in 2008 and 2009 in partnership with the British Library, and funded by the Heritage Lottery Fund.