The blessings of hearing loss

A dialog between Larry Littleton and Peggy Pilot
Copyright 2002

Keep in mind, this new job you have, sometimes provides great benefits, and it will take you places you have never dreamed of going, but the road getting there is going to be harder than Dorothy's adventure to see the Wizard of Oz.



Hi Larry,

Can you please expand on this comment in the above statement? I've heard similar things said and I've always wanted to ask just what it is that people are talking about - where are the places they went that they never dreamed of going? What are the benefits? I admit I'm stuck, I know I am. And I know it's because, for whatever reason, I've not traveled the path as far as some have. But I've also not heard enough of just what is that people mean when they say this. I'd love to hear about those 'places' others talk of; the benefits they've seen. Can anyone ever make the comment that, in hindsight, they believe that losing their hearing was a good thing for them?!


Hi Peggy,

For starters, you're now a part of the SWC. You'd never be here otherwise. If you haven't met the wonderful people here, if you haven't been to a SWC Mini-con, if you haven't been to an ALDA Conference, then you've got a lot of traveling to do!

You're stuck. This is part of the process. You've got to change the attitude from : "Now that I can't hear ... I CAN'T ... (fill in the blanks...and I'm sure there are many of them)


Now that I can't hear, I don't HAVE TO ... (fill in the blanks...and I'll start them for you)

You don't have to listen if you don't WANT to
You can sleep like a baby, and not be bothered by noise
You can walk in the middle of the city, among GAZILLIONS of sounds, and be at peace with yourself as if you were walking deep in the forest all alone.
You don't have to run to answer the phone
You don't have to run to answer the doorbell

You can sit next to a screaming baby on an airplane, and just smile back at the nervous parents...and tell them, "No worries. I'm deaf...doesn't bother me a bit" You've then got a friend for the duration of your flight.

(You should have seen me on a flight from LA to Thailand...with about 8 kids all running and screaming around me....I was the centerpiece of their entire trip, and I absolutely LOVED it. Looking around, I could sense the ANGST of the passengers who had to listen to those kids scream as I played with them)

Other benefits....well...depending on your attitude about your hearing can:
1. Get on an airplane first, using your deafness
2. Get lots of attention from the flight attendants, if you know how to joke about your champagne, free first class upgrades, etc.
3. Get into many major parks and recreation areas at discount, using your deafness

Again, this depends on your attitude. It's HOW you view your deafness. I view mine in many different ways, and granted I've probably been deaf longer than you (but heck, whatta I know?) I've also had perfect hearing too, so I know both sides of the coin. I walk my talk, and I talk my walk.

On to dreaming....did you ever dream you'd be going on this road of hearing loss? You can kick and scream and spit it in the face, but that's an awful lot of good energy you could be using elsewhere.

Now that you're experiencing hearing loss, have you considered your safety? Have you been trained in first aid? What about disaster preparedness? What about contacting your local police department and making sure their 911 TTY system works? What about your neighborhood watch? Have you joined? Have you formed one? Have you made your communication needs known with your neighbors?

What about your family? Have they left you out in the dark during family gatherings? Have you made your communication needs known with them? They're SURELY not going to be able to figure it out themselves. You're going to need to tell them. They're as scared, if not more, than you are and will avoid you to avoid their own uncomfortableness. You're going to have to break that barrier, or find people who understand how you feel, know what you're going through, and support you.

Personally, my family didn't "GET IT" and I failed miserably at educating them of my own needs. Now, at this time in my life, I've decided to move on, and have found the most wonderful woman in the world who understands my communication issues. My wife is my best friend, and I'm the luckiest guy in the world to have her as my wife. But I've also met the absolutely most wonderful people via the SWC and ALDA, and I know that when I'm down in the dumps about something, I can reach out and find a whole bundle of people who know exactly what I'm experiencing.

My complete hearing loss has made me more sensitive to others who have the same thing. My hearing loss has also made me more sensitive to others who have different types of disabilities. Most people, usually turn their heads away when someone who has mental or emotional disabilities, because they're uncomfortable. I understand that, but being one who "is different" surely gives one more compassion.

I took a group of developmentally disabled adults to Bermuda on a cruise ship. In addition to their developmental issues, two of them were deaf too. I had the absolute most wonderful time, learned more about them than I would have ever imagined.

My hearing loss has blessed me with many things. It's all in the attitude.


I could fill my response with "buts" but you've made it very clear to me that the "buts" are the reflection of a poor attitude, and that this attitude of mine needs a major adjustment. Most importantly, with your examples of how you've personally felt blessed, you've given me something to balance out those "buts" - that are oh, so heavy and confining.


It takes a very strong person to stop themselves from "going there" with all the "but's." As a matter of fact, I was thinking of the "but's" as I was typing my note to you, and got carried away and forgot to mention that aspect. Yes, there are "but's" to every one of the things I wrote. I've used every one of them. And I've realized that "but's" are really for sitting on, so I got off mine.

I'll be the first to tell you I didn't get off my butt for a long long time. Hindsight...I wish I had done it sooner.

Therapy was an excellent thing for me to do. I was fortunate to find a therapist who also had a hearing loss, and wouldn't let me put my "but's" into my sessions. I thank her every day for that. I hope you would consider looking, and successfully find someone, who can keep you off your "but's."


I can't tell you what a smile your message brought to my face. But more than a smile, I think a light bulb was lit. - A light bulb that not only opens my mind, but also brightens my outlook somewhat.


Grin...I'm glad I brought a smile to your face. The light bulb analogy fits perfectly. I used to work for the Electric Company here in California ... grin!


Thank you so much for taking the time to respond to my question.


You're very welcome. You must know that even though I seem to have all those smarty-pants answers, I too, go through my tough days. Notes like yours keep me looking into my own issues, keep reminding me of where I've been, how far I've come, and what more I need to do.

As I said...the benefits of deafness are great. You've just shown me another one.


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