Ben and I flew to Perth last month to attend the Hear For You mentoring program for deaf kids in Western Australia.

It’s a 5 hour flight from Sydney to Perth – I normally hate flying long flights because I can’t hear the announcements (freak out when pilot says anything, think we’re going to crash); can’t watch TV (no captions); can’t listen to the radio (I’m deaf remember); can’t read a newspaper (too big for economy!); and get bored of my book after 3 hours of reading.

So had readied myself for torture.

View out of the aeroplane, flying over Australia

I am a nervous flyer. All the captain has to do is murmur "It's a beautiful day outside, and we're 20 minutes from Sydney." and because I can never quite hear clearly what the announcements say, I'll freak out, thinking "What did he say?? Did he say we are going to crash??!! Oh my god, we're all going to die!" And then wonder why everyone else starts reading the newspaper and ordering beer. Delightful.

We were flying Virgin Blue which is budget, so you have to pay to watch TV if you want it. After we settled in, and took off, they made an announcement that the credit card payment machines attached to the back of the headrests were broken, so they were going to give everyone free TV for the whole flight.

Everyone whooped and cheered, except me, because I thought I wasn’t going to be able to hear anything, so would be left out yet again.

But then I thought, geez, if it’s 5 hours of free TV and movies, I’m going to have a go. I’ll just watch the pictures if I have to – that will be better than just being bored out of my mind.

I held up the headphones to my hearing aid and cochlear implant and tried to follow the TV – I could hear it, but it was so static-ey and unclear, it was really disappointing. On a whim, I decided to try the ‘t-switch’ on both hearing aid and cochlear implant, which shuts out all the background noise, and only picks up the radio signals coming from TV. You have to have special headphones for that, so I didn’t think the Virgin ones would work.

But surprise! They had an operational telecoil built in! No notification anywhere, those stupid dolts. It turned out even Virgin Blue themselves didn’t know their flipping ear phones were built in with telecoil adaptability. Pathetic.

Holding the ear bud up to my ear, suddenly I could hear the audio quite clearly! I turned to Ben going “I can hear it! I can hear it!”

Kate with headphones wrapped up in scarf

Wrapping my scraf around my head I managed to get the ear bud close enough to the cochlear implant microphone to be able to hear the audio for the TV/movies on the Virgin Blue flight. I sat like this for 5 hours from Perth to Sydney.

Small obstacle was the fact that the headphones provided were ear-bud types. Now that is difficult for cochlear implantees, since the microphone for picking up sound is behind your ear, not in it!

Ben said: “Why don’t you try sticking it to your microphone?” and I’m like “With what??”

In the end we wrapped a scarf around my head, and I sat like that for the whole 5 hours, and was able to watch TV and hear it perfectly.