Most recently on one of our lists, a lengthy discussion became somewhat of a battle as to the use of the word “COPING.” Many people felt that coping was an important part of accepting our hearing loss. Others believed that the word coping is a cop out that focuses on acceptance of being less of a person.
Personally, I believe you have to have a good support system and have developed good coping skills to get to acceptance of your new life as a person with hearing loss or deafness. Naturally, the hearing population is pretty clueless when it comes to understanding life with a hearing loss and how alienating and depressing one can feel when we stop coping or do not know how to cope and just feel overwhelmed. I just love when I ask a hearing person to repeat what they just said (I really should be asking them to rephrase) and they ask me if my hearing aid is working today?
Coping with our hearing loss is synonymous to learning to cope with hearing people and their reactions to our loss. Personally, I don’t recall ever dealing with by my hearing loss at the age of 19. I acted as though it wasn’t my problem but the hearing persons problem. However, I did choose to work in the field of hearing loss and deafness and it wasn’t until I was in my early 40’s that an audiologist friend pulled me aside and very “nicely” told me, I was not hearing as well as I might think I am. That it was time for me to consider getting a hearing aid. At first I looked at her as if she were coming from another planet and I felt angry. In my mind, I was hearing just fine. I was not open at that time, to wearing a hearing aid as my previous experiences had been horrendous and pricey.
She took me into the audio booth and gave me the hearing test I stopped doing years ago. She explained my hearing loss to me but she did something else that no one had previously done, she explained exactly what I wasn’t hearing and showed me the results on an audiogram with graphics. It showed me what I was missing out on. Something just clicked, not like a light bulb going on but more like an aha moment. Suddenly, I felt less angry (something I had been denying for a long time) and suddenly I searched until I found an audiologist I could work with to assist me with trying out different hearing aids.
To this day, I use the audiogram with graphics to explain a childs’ hearing loss to the parent, to the student, to the teacher or to whomever the parent wants me to explain it to. This helps all the parties involved to COPE and to strategize what is needed in moving toward acceptance by both the individual/student with hearing loss as well as the hearing people involved.
I can proudly say, I have been wearing my hearing aid religiously (and I’m not a religious person), for 12 years. I still don’t hear everything but my hearing aid is part of my coping with hearing loss. I have no speech discrimination in one ear so I can only aid the ear that has a moderate to profound loss. I find that my most challenging times continue to be with the hearing world but I am no longer angry. The need for educating them about what a hearing loss or deafness means to us and that it can happen to anyone not just the elderly.
So coping to me, is not a negative word, its a reality. If we don’t cope we allow ourselves to sink into the belly of isolation and lonliness and that is not a place I want to be nor do I want u to be. Helping each other is important to coping. If you know someone who is feeling alienated due to their hearing loss, help them find support systems whether it be on line or a group at a community clinic or join us at the SayWhatClub. I would love to hear how others coped with their hearing loss or deafness.