The other day when the last of my four accent colour covers for my CI processor started to crack I thought I’d better get some more. (The crack might not look like much in the photo above but believe me, when an accent colour cover of this type cracks, you can bet your bottom dollar it’ll snap completely the next time you click it on the processor – it is that fragile. Bear with me a moment.)
My audiologist said it was policy that the NHS didn’t have spare colour covers, but he did give me the name of the website I could buy them from.
As it turned out, that supplier was the only one; I couldn’t get them on eBay or Gumtree or even Amazon for that matter. Guess how much they cost?
For proof, just visit this link.
Fifty-four quid! For a fraction of the price, I could get an iPhone skin that protected against the elements. There’s a whole load of stuff you could get for £54 that functioned beyond looking pretty and were far more durable.
What’s so ridiculous is, I -and other CI users like myself – don’t have much choice. You either buy it, or you don’t. Paying £54 for an accent colour cover is not something that you find out prior to your operation, for two reasons:
a. Much of what you get on the NHS is free – including the CI operation, which is irreversible and costs a bomb, and the accompanying giant box that you get afterwards, which contains not just your indispensable processor and magnetic headpiece, but also a whole load of wires, storage cases, replacement earhooks, power cells etc. Honestly, you just don’t expect to pay for any extras – let alone ones that snap after three or so uses and cost £54.
b. When selecting your CI model, it is impossible to know for sure before the operation if it will suit you, no matter how many users you talk to. Like every other deaf person who went for a CI, I had to go with how it looked rather than how it might sound. Trouble is, there is no one type of deafness – the ear is so complex and delicate a mechanism there’s more than one way to damage it. Moreover, how you become deaf, and how you adapt to life as a deaf person, indicates how your brain might adjust to the CI. For that reason, you don’t choose your CI – it chooses you. There’s absolutely no way you could test it before going under the knife.
c. CI technology has evolved over years to get to the standard it is now. So of course it’s going to be expensive. But that doesn’t justify the price of a few pieces of coloured, moulded plastic that don’t add anything useful to the CI.
Getting a CI, most people would agree, is not like buying a new mobile. I can’t chuck in my CI and ask for another one just because I don’t like the colour. The ear surgery I had for it was invasive and major, and required such precision and skill that my surgeon had to have a device that alerted him if he moved even a tiny fraction of a millimetre beyond the designated operating area.
The idea of coughing up £54 for something flimsier than an iPhone skin abhors me. It is even more abhorrent now that despite full knowledge of the repercussions involved, I had to go with a CI model on purely cosmetic grounds.
The original price contained in this post was inaccurate. It has since been corrected.