Hearing and Listening and Family….oh wow!

I’ve experienced and I’ve come to realize several things about myself and my hearing loss over the past year.  First off, my hearing loss has deteriorated over the past year in my good ear.  My “bad ear” has always been in the profound range with no speech discrimination, therefore, I was never able to benefit from a hearing aid.  My “good” ear, which I wear an aid on, has gone from a moderate sloping to severe hearing loss to now being very close to profound from the low frequencies to the high frequencies.  Fortunately, my hearing aid works for me but without it, I am totally deaf and have no speech discrimination.  There, I’ve said it, I am deaf with a small “d.”

Back to what I’ve experienced.  For years I have been focusing on educating “hearing” people.  Some were more receptive than others but as a group, the “hearing” population cannot truly understand our “not hearing.”   Afterall, the hearing person can’t see our hearing loss, most of us speak beautifully, we’re articulate and clear (as well as smart and resourceful),  and therefore the hearing person treats us like a hearing individual.   It’s so much easier for the hearing person to understand and be empathetic to a “deaf/Deaf individual, especially if that deaf person’s speech is “unclear” or the Deaf individual is signing.   Most hearing people, if interested, will attempt communication with a Deaf / deaf individual.  However, when it comes to the person with hearing loss, we are quickly told we are not “listening,” or  not “paying attention,”

Most recently, I found myself very obsessed with two separate occurences with family members about my “not listening”  and my asking for an individual to “rephrase or give me the subject matter.”  Sometimes I can’t help but feel I may have not remembered something said  vs. “not hearing.”   Whatever the case, I’ve come to realize that I don’t want to be angry, disappointed or hurt by those I love and who can’t seem to grasp what I am going through. I mean let’s face it, it can’t always be about me, which is what I’ve been told.

The hearing person is frustrated by my not hearing, misunderstanding them and ocassional requests for rephrasing.  Sometimes the hearing person may just feel that what they said was “irrelevant” or not important enough to repeat, though I tell them if it was important enough to say it to the group present, why wasn’t it important enough to make sure I understood it?

I know many of you will write, that the individuals are being insensitive however, I am tired of educating, which is what it always feels like. I don’t want to be angry.  I want to keep my sense of humor intact.  I am blessed with having a good sense of humor and making people smile and laugh.  I am resourceful and savvy and I have an incredible knack for reading people, which I wish I could bottle and market.

I want to rise above the insensitivity because the truth is, I want to be happy and live in the present.  I want to find the karma and surround myself with people I love and who love me.  I am a very picky person when it comes to friends. I want to surround myself with certain type of people and I am so fortunate to have the most understanding of friends who I know love me and who when they found out I was losing my hearing, ran out and took a sign language class.  I also know, that in spite of differences in our understanding of hearing loss,  I have family who love me. We all need to find our comfort zone with ourselves and with the outside world.  I will always be an advocate, an educator and a tough NYC woman with a sense of humor to help me get through my deafness.

In addition, I want to devote my time to advocating for global captioning and being included.  I want online videos to be captioned and the availability of captioning be in all languages.  The computer has opened up the world for the deaf and hearing impaired, don’t cut us off now.  Don’t isolate us by not allowing us accessibility to online videos, online news, online webinars and online You Tubes.  Until voice recognition can be perfected, we need CART or captioning provided by social media.  I don’t want to rely on my family and friends to keep me in the loop, I want to remain independent and be able to just turn to any channel or online video and know what is being said.

Hearing loss and deafness is not a problem that strikes the elderly only.  We are seeing more and more hearing impaired individuals between the ages of 12 and 45.  So, the next time you are told the television is playing too loud or you hear a voice in your head saying, please repeat or rephrase, remember, that could be your spouse asking you to lower the t.v. and that voice asking someone to repeat or rephrase, could be your own.

0 thoughts on “Hearing and Listening and Family….oh wow!

  1. The ability to read people may be a deaf thang. I too am incredibly intuitive when it comes to people. I agree with your approach regarding humor and educating. No one listens to scolding. It’s much better to stay positive and upbeat, which is hard when you’re mourning a hearing loss and feeling left out because people repeat themselves for you.

    I used to be pickier about my friends until I realized I wasn’t so perfect myself. I would love it if people only saw me on my best days, but I have done a lot of things I’m not proud of and appreciate it when people overlook those things. 🙂 All I ask is that people accept and respect me as I am and I try to do the same.

    Advocating for on-line captioning and public captions is a good positive focus.

  2. Most of the time I keep my cool when correcting hearing people’s wrong assumptions but now and then I lose it, getting angry. A few times it didn’t help matters much but most of the time it’s left an impression and worked. I don’t get mad often is why probably. I have my sense of humor and it gets me by but it’s okay to get mad sometimes. We are entitled.

  3. Yep, there comes a time when you have to embrace the “d” word. It’s a bit freeing, because I never considered myself deaf, though I was pretty deaf by the end of high school. In my mind, I was just a hearing girl who couldn’t hear so good, and I still feel that way at times. :o) I think when you progress along in hearing loss over years and years (this is very different if you’ve lost your hearing suddenly), you go through many different stages and you repeat patterns. I didn’t give my hearing loss much thought or care, other than those subconscious things I learned along the way that helped me cope really well, until it drew a line in the sand and said, “You can no longer take me for granted!” That moment was a life changer for me. I owned it and did the hard work to figure out how I was going to continue to be me with this new level of confusion for lack of hearing.

    That meant broadening the circle of those that needed to know more about how to deal with someone who is deaf, and it meant my not always being so diffident. I gained a confidence that totally changed the way I dealt with difficult situations and difficult people — it’s that comfort zone you talk about. I realized most of the time I was trying to be too nice and not inconvenience those with my hearing loss, which is totally unrealistic.

    I stopped always having to be nice, and went the other direction, which was a bit overboard, but I had to do that in order to find a balance. Luckily, for those around me I’ve settled into finding a middle ground and when I need to I can handle a situation in a way that makes people think about how they’ve reacted to me, and why and doesn’t leave them in the dust.

    I’ve come to a place where I can be a bit more tolerant to insensitivity, because it’s just too tiring to always be pointing out things to my family and friends, so I’ve learned to pick my battles and count my blessings, and I’m more thoughtful of how I get my point across :o) I continue to have those trying days when I lose my cool and my newfound confidence is out to lunch, but we are all entitled to bad day here and there, and it’s usually our attitude that made the difference. I pretty much know when I have a bad attitude and I try to stay home on those days. :o) But then there are other days, when the stars align and you’re in your zen moment and you see how your handling of a situation really made someone think and change their behavior. It’s all good… it has to be, because it’s your life.

    I’m really into captioning advocacy myself, so good luck with that… you do a great job, Pearl. :o) ~~Michele

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