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.