Being home alone for a few weeks has made me very introspective. I can’t help but think that this time would be easier if I could hear. Of course I wouldn’t be home on sick leave if I hadn’t had some holes drilled into my head and wires wiggled in. However if I was someone that could hear, who was at home with say a broken arm then maybe it would be easier.

Why am I saying this? The damn phone of course. If I could hear and wanted to talk to someone I could pick up the phone and chat, or make arrangements to meet. I could go for a walk, maybe bump into someone and chat about the weather.

I couldn’t hear to chat easily before I had the surgery – duh – if I could have then I wouldn’t need the surgery would I? so instead I am here, typing.
Instead of wondering if so and so is at home and would like a visit I have to get in the car and drive xxxx km to see them, hope that they don’t mind me dropping by. That’s if they are in.

Instead when I do meet up with friends I’m on the outside looking in. I don’t make out every word, so I guess. It’s usually enough to keep the conversation going but I try to make a balance between not irritating people by asking them to repeat themselves too much and by not irritating people by guessing wrongly. I’ve met up with some friends this week and I enjoyed it very much. I really appreciate the effort that friends make to include me, but I still feel an outsider. Maybe in a few months when the implant and my brain are getting along just fine then all this will be a memory. It won’t be a memory for many others with hearing loss.

If I have learned one thing from blogging it’s that my feelings and reactions to having a hearing loss are not unique. There are many people out there trapped into loneliness by hearing loss. It changes you, it affects your personality. This can be for the good; resilience, determination, self suffiency, but in the main if you become deaf it’s a bad thing. It’s lonely, demoralising, isolating, you withdraw from contact. As a deafened person you know that your deafness is annoying to others. You know that you are asking them to do things differently so that you can be included. Everytime you say that you didn’t hear something you are asking for help. Asking someone else to do more. Whether it’s speaking more clearly, slowly, rephrasing, writing it down, sitting closer, leaning in. It’s all asking and no giving. I can buy gadgets to help me communicate, text phones, email, instant messenger but unless the other person thinks I am worth the effort of using them then they may as well not exist.

Hearing Loss Web says that 32% of people find other’s hearing loss annoying. Relationships with spouses and family are negatively affected.

Paul Saevig writes here about the effects of hearing loss. Read it please, it’s eloquent.

Once I came across a patient whose face was expressionless and showed no reaction to anything. The nurse with her said the patient had dementia. Something made me think she didn’t. So I wrote down what I was saying, the patient looked at it and shook her head. I wrote again, only bigger. The patient answered. We talked. She was very deaf and had given up trying as no one spoke to her in a way that she could hear, nor wrote anything down for her to read.

I’m hoping that the CI will save me from that fate, others aren’t so lucky. If you know a deafened person, please take the time to talk to them.

9 responses »

  1. Mog, I've been away from your blog for some time and was surprised to come back and find you with a CI. I wish you all the best of luck!

    Also, the paragraph about what you have learned from blogging and how the tiring thing about hearing loss is to essentially be a nuisance is wonderful (not the first time, that I am marveling at paragraphs of yours). I have exactly that same experience. In blogging however, as opposed to reading books, it has been a positive one: As long as my deafness was moderate I have never concerned myself much with it. Then, when it got worse, the depressing thing about reading about other late deafened people was that it made me realize how much of my personality I seemed to owe to the hearing loss. That was frightening. I think blogging is very different, much more encouraging as I go on expressing yourself, receiving feedback and getting to know people I am sort of reclaiming my personality.

  2. I think your comment, "There are many people out there trapped into loneliness by hearing loss. " can apply to many people, but replace 'hearing loss' with any number of issues.

    Try 'mental health issues', 'caregiving demands', 'illness', 'disabilities', etc.

    I moved away from my adult children, and friends, and social network, to care for ailing parents who did not want my help. I quit my job to look after dad, then suffered depression. I am now recovered. Mostly!

    This is a familiar problem for many people. It is what you do about it that makes a difference. There are many people out there who are worse off than you. For example, we now deliver Meals on Wheels to seniors in our area. My husband moved here, once we sold the house. My parents passed away and we manage to create new lives.

    When I took sign language classes back in the 70s, as part of my teaching practice, we went to Deaf Community events with our teacher, who was deaf. It really opened up my eyes and my heart. You have found a community on-line. Grab on. You are a beautiful person. You are educating many people with your blog and doing a good thing. As you travel in this world you are making a difference. Keep it up!

    This loneliness will teach you something. Embrace it. Learn to feel it and when things change for you, as they will, you will appreciate the change all the more!

    Many, many hugs.

  3. Beehoven, thanks for you comments. You do indeed understand what I am saying.

    Jen, thanks for your kind comments too, though I feel you may have misunderstood, or maybe it's my deaf personality's interpretation but I feel that you are telling me off. I do know that there are people who are worse off than I am, I mentioned at least one in my post, and even said as much.
    I make the best I can with what I have. I know only too well that other disabilities and conditions have an effect on the psyche, but my blog is about hearing loss, so allow me to comment solely on it without having to place a rider in each post.

    I'm advocating for those who are isolated, who live alone, whose deafness is misunderstood, not just myself. I hope that by personalising my posts with my experiences that it becomes more real, more understandable

    Take care now.

  4. I feel quite moved by this, especially the story of the old lady. The idea of being stuck is a fearful thing. I know that you have many, many friends who love to hear from you and talk to you via the blog x

  5. I really appreciate what Paul had to say about 2 types of people in the world: those who are decent and those who are not.
    Your story of the patient who couldn't hear shows how compassionate and insightful you are. Thanks for this post. It touched me.
    P.S. Your photos of Paris are wonderful too.

  6. I am sorry, Mog. I think you misunderstood! What I was trying to say (badly, methinks!) is that many suffer and it is in sharing our suffering and helping one another that we better understand ourselves.

    Also, some of your issues are common to many people, and worth writing about as it is a commonality of experiences that will helps others understand better how to cope, as you are doing so well!

    I spoke to that because coping with my parents led me to feel some of the things you were articulating. I wrote about it in my book, and you will see!

    Best wishes.

  7. You are entitled to be grumpy! As long as we are still cyberfriends! 🙂

    Hubby says I think too much. I write what I am thinking, but the emotions are, of course, absent. Body language is such an interesting factor in communication. I read the book by the woman with the left brain stroke (My Stroke of Insight). Very interesting. I wrote about it here: What to expect. Patients have much to teach caregivers!

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