One of my favourite hearing loss blogs, well favourite blog of any type, is Not Quite Like Beethoven. It’s written in German and I use the online translators to read it -with varying success- but it is worth the effort.
NQLB is contemplating cochlear implant surgery. A process that of necessity requires great introspection and analysis of the quality of life that you have with your current hearing. You need to reflect on what you can and can’t do because of hearing loss and of course what you may or may not be able to do if implanted. It’s a difficult, emotionally draining process- as evidenced by my first posts on this blog. You have to do it so that you can move forward and embrace cyborgdom.
This is what NQLB says.
Over the last 15 years, I have gone from hard of hearing to profoundly deaf. Although I wear hearing aids, many people including my friends, are often stupefied when I tell them what my world is like. But you seem to cope so well, they say. Well, it’s not as if I had an LED on my forehead that turns from green to red whenever I don’t understand. But perhaps that would help. You would barely notice it being green at all.
Are there things I would like to do but can’t now because of my hearing? Well, let me count the ways: I cannot use the phone. I cannot watch TV or go to the movies unless there are subtitles, which, in Germany, rarely happens. I cannot talk in the car. I cannot go to a café, pub or restaurant with anyone. I cannot participate in a group conversation. When I ring anybody’s bell I cannot understand them on the intercom, so if they let me know how to find their apartment in this huge complex, I get lost anyway. I cannot talk to people I run into in the streets or in shops. I cannot join in a conversation after a lecture, a movie, or a play, because first of all I often do not understand much of the lecture/movie/play so I cannot join in the conversation on the most natural topic afterwards and I usually cannot even understand what the others say about it because it takes place in the hallway, the street or a pub and they talk to each other instead of to me. I cannot understand any announcements at train stations or airports, in buses or trains (except on that special occasion once a year). I cannot talk to people who ride the subway with me or who happen to sit by my side on long train rides. If it’s not on the menu, I cannot understand a restaurant’s specials that the waiter tells me about. On planes, if I haven’t ordered in advance I usually get a surprise menu, because I cannot understand a word the flight attendant says over the roar of the engines. I cannot moderate group discussions, and neither can I teach a seminar as that involves dialogue, answer questions after a presentation, or talk to people in the lobby. I love dinners and parties but any time there are more than 3 people it is only a matter of time until I start feeling lonely even among friends.
I am the perpetual bystander. Not a good way to find my way and happiness in work and love.
Basically, in order to talk to me, everybody has to meet me at home. Or at their homes. And stay there. The two (and never more) of us alone. If you think that’s great then think again. It’s not if you have no alternative. Moreover, when trying to make new friends, for me there’s no taking people to cafés, bars or restaurants, chatting in a relaxed atmosphere.
You know, my self is sick of being walled in like that.
I, Mog, wanted to add photos to NQLB’s guest post that have a German theme, so here are my German inlaws. The three girls are the only ones still alive. One is my mother in law.