A day in the deaf life….


I’m working the last of three evening shifts which means I get home around midnight, have a coffee and watch TV for a while before going to bed at around 1am. I always have the closed captions on the TV and late at night I make sure the sound is turned off completely as I can’t judge how loud it is and I don’t want to wake MLM. I’m on call for the hospital, which means they may ring to call me back into work Today they rang at 6.45 am and MLM answers for me, I put my specs on so I can see to lipread, no need to put the light on as it’s daylight. MLM tells me what they say and I answer etc etc. The conclusion is that I am not going back in just to arrive 15 minutes before the day shift starts. Specs off, I go back to sleep.

I get up later on, we have a late breakfast and I check my emails and do some blogging. Then I join MLM outside where we do some gardening. (Or is that yardwork?) It was a glorious spring day and we sat under the tree chatting and watching the birds. I don’t hear birds at all; the only sounds I could hear were from cars passing by at the end of the yard, and MLM talking to me. The real Mog sat on my lap, this is a huge privilege BTW, and if I put my ear close to her I could hear her purring.

Back indoors I get ready to go to work. MLM talks to his mum on the telephone, I talk to mine on messenger. Everyone is well. Before I leave for work I put my hearing aids in, checking the program and volume levels with the remote control. My Blackberry goes in my back pocket so I can feel it vibrate when I get a message. I drive to work, no radio or music on in the car of course.

When I arrive at work I call by ER to let them know that I am working, when they need me they email instead of phoning. They don’t take replies to emails though so if they need to talk to me I have to walk round to them. No big deal really. I do some paperwork while waiting for patients. I check my BB often- just in case I miss a vibration, and also check the computer system too just in case I haven’t been emailed and there are patients waiting. There are notices on the walls explaining that I am deaf and if I don’t answer I am not ignoring them I just haven’t heard. I have to explain to each patient that I can’t hear. Most people are understanding and try to help me. Not all, but that’s life. “Most” is a good proportion. I spend the usual amount of time saying variations on “I’m sorry I didn’t hear you, please repeat that”.

On the evening shift I am the only person in the department. The other techs play music, or have the radio on when they are working alone. I work in silence apart from machinery noises.

Later on I jump out of my skin when I realise that someone is standing behind me. It’s a patient who has gone looking for the tech rather than sitting and waiting in the waiting room. I check my BB, no email, nothing on the computer which means ER hasn’t had time to enter the exam yet. Once I see the patient I apologise for being short with her and explain why, she understands. I decide to lock some doors to prevent this happening again as it’s not the first time.

Even later on I am with a patient and leave them in the exam room while I go to check my work. Yet again I jump out of my skin; the patient is now standing right behind me. Harmless enough but it’s downright scary when you can’t hear people approach.

I have a chat to one of the nurses that I don’t see very often, she’s hard to lipread and I realise that she doesn’t know I am deaf. I explain, we chat some more, then she tells me she’s from Liverpool. Well, once I know that I can understand her. I had been trying to lipread a Canadian accent when I should have been thinking Scouse. I don’t chat very much at work unless I can get just one person to talk to. At supper I usually go later when I know there’s not likely to be anyone there. I can hardly make out a word in the cafeteria so it’s easier to avoid conversation.

Nothing very exciting, but hearing loss creates a great deal of “added unvalue” in my life, all those little hassles add up and wear you down.


7 responses »

  1. Thanks Toastie,xx but you know, I thought that that day was a good day for me, a little boring to write about as it was relatively hassle free.

  2. Your day is not so far from mine, during the week, at work.
    I probably have small heartattacks daily, due to a-hole people creeping up behind me (still) at work. (shrug)

    Sending virtual hugs your way!

    You rock Mog!!

  3. It was so interesting to hear about your workday. I’m like you in that I prefer not to listen to the radio in the car. If I switch it on it usually gets switched right back off unless it’s an 80s song I remember, ha! I’m lucky that my work cubicle is in an out of the way corner so I can generally sense people coming up to me although I do tend to get surprised frequently when I’m out and about in the library. Yes, my work experience is different than my coworkers but I capitalize on my increased focus due to diminished distractions. It can be lonely at times. I don’t do group conversations for long, one on one is always best for me. Hang in there, you have people who understand.
    All the best,

  4. Thanks Sarah, I dont have the radio on because I can’t hear it, its just noise. I sometimes play CDs of old songs that I know so in my mind I fill in the gaps I can’t hear.

    Jelly and Sarah, The creeping up thing is startling, but it’s also pretty scary when it’s total stranger behind you, and you are a long way from anyone else.

  5. I remember watching TV with sound off so as not to disturb others; choosing who I would chat with because I could read their lips. Oh! and the reading of accents and needing to know which accent it was to lipread it – boy could I relate to that.

    One of the worst things though is not being able to hear people approach. I agree, that is sometimes downright scary. My husband used to go outside and sneak around to the window above the kitchen sink and peer in at me and give me such a fright!!! He did that a few times before one of his friends told him that was just mean and I agreed of course. I can laugh now that he doesn’t do it anymore.

    You related all of that so well Mog. Thank you for sharing.

  6. I’m like you in the way that I try to avoid conversations in the cafeteria (I try to avoid conversations all throughout the school day even). It’s too exhausting to try to keep up with all the talking. One on one is better for me too.

    Not a lot of people sneak up behind me, they usually call out my name or poke me in the side. But just today when I was sitting on the floor after school, one of the staff was crouching right behind me (in a position that looked like she was hugging me but had her hands on my shoulders). When I felt her hand and whipped around all I saw was a black leather jacket and tried to turn the other way as fast as possible, I thought whatever it was, was going to try to kill me. It’s defiantly a scary experience.

    Thank you for sharing your workday with us! It was very interesting to see some of my own personal experiences in a different situation.

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