judy’s experience


Judy didn’t enjoy Friday very much, this pleases me, it even induces a certain smugness.

Is this mean of me? Probably, but mainly it’s relief to know that it is hard to be hard of hearing. I sometimes think I am making a fuss about nothing, that I should just put up and shut up. So when Judy and Rob are willing volunteers in the “experiment” then I am inordinately pleased that someone else is going to suffer.

Judy and Rob both found that the absence of background and/or environmental noises was disorientating for them. Someone with a sudden hearing loss would probably notice this. Perhaps a reader would be able to comment on this? Gradual hearing loss means that I don’t notice the absence of these sounds. I do have some hearing especially in the low frequencies so I can hear environmental noises, traffic, bangs, hammering, and thunder- thank goodness as I love thunderstorms. Little things like beeps and signals can be worked round; they don’t seem important to me.

I think it is true to say that you appreciate silence more when you can hear sounds. One of the problems with hearing loss though is that it isn’t a silent world. There’s recruitment, tinnitus, and electronic noises caused by hearing aids. I’m sitting here with naked ears, no hearing aids. I have a continuous hissing noise in both ears, I have the TV on and I can hear that there is sound but can’t make out what it is. I’m not watching the TV though, it’s on because it provides stimulus and contact. My preference would be the radio or classical music, or maybe just some silence so I could hear the birds singing and the wind in the trees. I want to hear the coyotes howling at night, the loons on the lake.
In a long term situation you replace the activities you can no longer do with ones you can. It doesn’t take away the yearning to do those things though. Yesterday we didn’t go to see the Metropolitan Opera’s HD performance of Madame Butterfly. I just can’t hear well enough to enjoy it. With my hearing aids then the volume is painful, without them the fat lady mimes. I can listen to music but I don’t hear it the same way that you might. I can hear the low notes and the loud notes. Music stopped for me in a few years ago. I listen to music that I already know so that my brain can fill in the gaps. It’s like playing Pick up Song on I’m Sorry I Haven’t a Clue

Judy felt uncomfortable. Uncomfortable as in out of place, unsure, distressing, unpleasant, ill at ease? I can relate to that. I can definitely relate to the downright fury that she felt.

The extra work involved in being hard of hearing is exhausting. Hearing is no longer a background activity, you have to concentrate to hear. My usual analogy is that hearing loss is like living your life in a foreign language. One that you know fairly well but aren’t fluent. You need to concentrate to hear each word, to catch the nuances, the dialect. On top of this you know that you will never be able to be fluent however hard you try, and that your understanding will only get worse.

Hearing loss is disappointing. With effort you can be included in activities, but sometimes it’s too hard to make the effort,as Judy found when she didn’t go to the talk by Homer-Dixon. Judy I appreciate your commitment to the task when you missed this talk, but you should have gone! I hope you get another chance to hear him speak.
It is embarrassing at times, this is a cultural thing too and varies with location. I think it’s more embarrassing for the people who are trying to communicate with you.

I can understand the feeling that it’s too much to ask for help, and that asking itself is wearing. That being included depends on other people being helpful. Like many disabilities hearing loss means you are grateful a good part of the time. Is it possible to be thanking people constantly without feeling small?

Meetings are ok if you are chairing the meeting and can control the environment. I used to say that if I hadn’t heard what was said at the meeting then it hadn’t happened. If anyone talked off agenda or in side conversations then they had to summarise their conclusions for the entire group. Minutes secretaries were usually very pleased when I was in a meeting as it made their life easier. The meetings were usually shorted too as everyone kept on track.

I’m saddened to see it written down that helping people with a hearing loss would be an inconvenience. One would hope that it would be a worthwhile activity. Judy wrote this when she was experiencing hearing loss, and I think the comment is more of an indication of how hearing loss made her feel rather than her true perception of the inconvenience of helping. Nevertheless, there are people who hold this opinion.

Yes, it does take guts to carry on, to do daily battle and try to participate in an unequal world. Some days it’s almost unbearable. This applies to many people with disabilities, not just hearing loss folk, and that’s why we must strive for inclusiveness, equality for all.

It definitely helps to have friends, and as Judy found somehow having a disability filters out the fair weather friends and leaves you with the good ones.

I think it’s grim too, it’s not the only grim of course but it’s my grim. It is comforting to have reality acknowledged (good phrase, Judy) I’m glad there were some benefits. The greatest one is trust and confidence in friends.
I’m glad that Judy and Rob have more understanding of hearing loss, I’m sure that this will help them to help others, because I’m pretty certain that’s what they do.

5 responses »

  1. Damn, between you and Judy this has been a not been a good weekend for my mascara.

    I mean that in a good way and I want to comment but so much, too much, shit is bubbling up.

  2. I wish I had thought to ask some family members to try spending time without hearing. You have some fabulous friends. Oh well, my family has been reading my writing lately and realizing what I went through with the benefit of knowing the happy outcome with my cochlear implants.

    It is the time between barely functioning hearing with hearing aids, and the profound loss that hearing aids don’t help anymore, right before qualifying for cochlear implants, that is so incredibly trying and sometimes bleak. Good friends are a blessing.

  3. That was quite a post. I understand completely what you wrote. I barely function without a hearing aid in my one “good” ear, without it, well, I’m deaf. And doing the day to day in the hearing world, is HARD.

    Good that you have great friends and support. You need it.

    Have a great day…hang in there.

  4. Pingback: Der Spaziergang in die Harthörigkeit « Not quite like Beethoven

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