Have you seen the becomeanex.org commercials that focus on relearning life without cigarettes? The subjects of these commercials are going through their daily routines, but seem to be having trouble with even the most simple of tasks because of not physically having a cigarette in their hand. I know you have seen them:
- A woman stumbles to her car, fumbling to unlock the rear passenger door; she climbs in the backseat; climbs over the backseat to the driver’s seat, all the while looking completely confused.
- A man making breakfast, cracks an egg over a hot burner minus the frying pan.
- A man in a diner, clueless as to how to drink his cup of coffee.
Most people don’t consider that when you live life with a cigarette in your hand, physically giving up cigarettes can leave you debilitated.
Let’s apply that to losing your hearing… As with all things that we tend to take for granted until they are gone, a person who has all of their hearing doesn’t think much about the areas of life where they use this keen sense, other than the obvious. But take away someone’s ability to hear and they will find that hearing plays a part in areas they never considered. Maybe someone should make a commercial for those relearning life without the benefit of hearing? The following scenarios are a few possibilities based on my own personal life challenges:
- A woman drives her 5-speed, roughly shifting gears. She no longer can hear the sound one unconsciously listens for that indicates when to shift, as road noise drowns out all other sound. Her lone passenger gives her that “Drive much?” look as she shifts out of sync, while simultaneously cinching his seat belt tighter, fearful for his safety.
- A woman brushes her teeth as part of her morning routine. She returns to the bathroom later in the day to find the water has been running all day long, as she no longer can hear the sound of water running, an unconscious reminder to turn off the faucet.
- A woman enters a busy office building and pushes the button for the elevators located on either side of the lobby. If she has any chance at all to catch an open elevator, she must stand at a distance in order to see all of the elevator lights (hopefully the lights contain arrows so she can see if an elevator is going up or down. If not, she most likely will ride in the wrong direction a time or two and receive stares from other passengers wondering why, if she wanted to go down, did she get on an elevator going up?) and to watch for the elevator doors to open, as she can not hear the bell or the opening of the doors. God forbid that the lights are burnt out or not functioning. She could be standing there for days. (I’ve learned to take the stairs to avoid the stares. LOL)
This list could go on and on, but you get the idea!! Really though, the two points–relearning life without cigarettes and relearning life without hearing–are not comparable, as you can make the choice to give up cigarettes, but one can never choose to hear as they once did, not even with hearing aids or cochlear implants. Believe me, if choice were an option no one would suffer hearing loss. However, relearning life is necessary whether you are giving up cigarettes or dealing with hearing loss. What is sad to note is that there is more help out there for someone giving up smoking than there is help for someone coping with hearing loss.
Another thought… with all the mindless, pointless reality shows that do nothing more than to afford a “fly on the wall” view into a celebrated life where the challenges faced seem a tad superficial–though there are a few reality shows I like, “Project Runway” is one. This show at least highlights the creative process, though even here there seems to be an element of manufactured drama–why not have a “real” reality show that teaches something, highlights what it is like to be Deaf/deaf/Hard of Hearing? Believe me, that would be entertainment in it’s purest form!!! No need to manufacture any of the drama, as it all happens naturally.
Such a show might be similar to “Little People, Big World” (a TLC series showcasing the Roloff family, composed of both little and average-sized members) in that it would educate the public about others who are considered “different”. Of course, as with any reality show, the episodes would be expected to generate viewer interest, but even the most mundane situations told from the perspective of someone who cannot hear can prove dramatic.
If there are any big time TV producers out there reading this, please feel free to steal my idea. Not only would a reality show about Deaf/deaf/Hard of Hearing people be dramatic, it would serve to help the vast TV watching public become aware of the challenges facing those of us who have lost some or all of our hearing. For if we, as hard of hearing and deaf individuals, are not clued into all the ways hearing enhances our own lives until we begin to lose our hearing, how much more so for those who have not experienced any loss at all?