Hard of Understanding

How often do I tell people I’m hard of hearing? Not often these days because they only speak louder which distorts word discrimination. Now I tell people I’m half deaf instead because deaf = lip reading. I’m not perfect at lip reading… okay, it’s called speech reading now but I need all the help I can get. Clearly watching them speak, gives me more clues to what sounds I should be looking for. They know if I’m ‘deaf’ talking louder won’t help but facing me and speaking a little slower does. Half deaf works for me.

That often leads to, “Which ear is your better ear.”

“They are both about the same,” I tell them.  At least that’s what the audiologists tell me. I think my left ear is better.

Saying I’m half deaf is easier than explaining how I hear… and don’t hear all at the same time. It’s all noise to me but I can’t make sense of the noise. I know they are talking but understanding what they say is all together different. Call my name from a crowded room and watch my reaction. I can’t tell who’s voice it was let alone which direction it came from. I have to scan the room to see who is waving their arms to get my attention.

One night at meeting with other hard of hearing folk, I told them I know I’m hard of hearing but that is misleading. What I really am is Hard of Understanding. They all laughed but I was serious! Having sensorineural hearing loss is not like being deaf. People know I hear because I respond in some sense even though I don’t know what they said. Or sometimes I hear perfectly well what they said with no rhyme or reason causing them to accuse me of ‘selective hearing.’ I wish! It’s confusing to them and me. I don’t why I heard this and not that. I refer to this as No Man’s Land. Caught in the middle.

How do you you others with sensorineural hearing loss get by? And how do you describe it?