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I am hearing impaired.

I have less than 25 percent hearing in the left ear and the right ear is declining as well, though at a slower rate. I began losing my hearing at age 18, due to a congenital condition that was exacerbated by a massive ear infection.

I didn't acknowledge the loss until years later when I was at a family gathering and found myself answering questions that my cousin was not asking. My only clue? The look on his face when I gave him my replies.

It was after that gathering that I made my way to an audiologist to look into getting a hearing aid.

At this moment, I'm 52. When I began noticing my hearing loss, I was a young lady with a talent for singing and playing guitar. The first casualty of my condition was my desire to play. I lost the low register of my hearing and playing music became something that just frustrated me.

God has a twisted sense of humor.

I realize that other musicians, notably Beethoven, have overcome a hearing loss, but it sidelined me for many years, even after I got the hearing aid I needed. Just listening to people and all the noise around me after I could actually hear, was sometimes exhausting.

Aside from all that though, I'd like to address how people react to someone who cannot hear at a normal level, and perhaps some of you people out there who have perfect hearing will understand how frustrating it is to be on the receiving end of the unintentional hostility.

Deafness is not something you can see. It's not a huge gaping wound or an obviously amputated limb, but it is indeed a disability and it is one that deserves a bit more understanding than what I've experienced. I didn't choose to lose my hearing, so please don't treat me as if I'm inconveniencing you when I don't hear you correctly.

It's difficult for humans to disguise or hide their impatience or annoyance from me. I see it flash over their eyes just for that brief second when they realize I, or another hearing impaired individual requires them to slow down and speak to me, eyes on mine. I need to see your lips, I need to have the sound that comes out of you, come towards me, not away from me as you turn to do something else.

I've had days where I gave up and just stopped interacting with the world around me because I found it too tiring to explain myself with every transaction or meeting. Even my own son can't contain his annoyance at times with having to deal with my deafness. I've had to remind him a few times just what he's doing to me with his attitude and impatience.

My point here, after all that, is to ask those of you out there who have been blessed with perfect hearing, to protect it and enjoy it, and try to be more sympathetic to those who do not...and if you don't have perfect hearing and find yourself answering questions that no one is asking, then PLEASE, go get your hearing tested and get what you need. There is no reason not to. Vanity is not a valid excuse any longer.

Originally posted to One Thin Paradigm on Wed Jan 30, 2013 at 09:27 AM PST.

Also republished by Pink Clubhouse and KosAbility.

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Comment Preferences

  •  Tip Jar (24+ / 0-)

    You take the blue pill, the story ends, you wake up in your bed and believe whatever you want to believe. You take the red pill, you stay in Wonderland, and I show you how deep the rabbit hole goes. -Morpheus/The Matrix

    by Kaos on Wed Jan 30, 2013 at 09:27:30 AM PST

  •  I have a hearing loss too (9+ / 0-)

    from a car crash. I also suffer from Tinnitus (TIN-i-tus) - noise or ringing in the ears.

    I don't have a hearing aid. I need to see people's lips to help me communicate.

    Sometimes I talk too loud which anoys others. sigh.

    "the Devil made me buy this dress!" Flip Wilson as Geraldine Jones

    by BlueJessamine on Wed Jan 30, 2013 at 09:38:47 AM PST

  •  I share your impairment (8+ / 0-)

    I completely hear (pun intended) what you're saying.

    A week or two back, I didn't have my hearing aids in.  Someone asked me a question, and I gave a completely nonsensical answer because I caught only a few words of their question.  Got some funny looks from that, but I'm not too sensitive about the reaction of others to my hearing loss.

    Before I got my aids, I had become fairly adept at lip reading, but obviously the person speaking to me had to be facing me.  I've had my hearing aids for nearly two years, and though they don't completely offer the audio quality of good, natural hearing (listening to music without headphones being one of those things), they do help with day-to-day conversations if I'm not in a noisy environment.  Then, I can't hear much of anything, just a lot of background noise.

    "Mitt who? That's an odd name. Like an oven mitt, you mean? Oh, yeah, I've got one of those. Used it at the Atlas Society BBQ last summer when I was flipping ribs."

    by Richard Cranium on Wed Jan 30, 2013 at 09:45:05 AM PST

    •  I've become (6+ / 0-)

      ... so good and at interpreting partial phonemes, that I can act as an interpreter for bad cell phone connections for my better-hearing family members.

      Since I normally rely on reading lips, I have found I can't watch TV when I visit my father - because the cable box is messed up, so the video and audio are slightly out of sync. The cognitive dissonance is so strong, it is almost painful to look at tv while listening to it.

      I failed my first hearing test in school 33 years ago. I can't afford a hearing aid, because our income is too high to qualify for the programs that provide help. Alas, it's also not high enough to provide enough slack to cover a hearing aid. So, I cope by reading lips and avoiding crowds.

      •  I'd probably be in the same boat (6+ / 0-)

        Fortunately, I'm eligible for VA healthcare, and received top of the line digital aids through the VA at no cost to me.  Sounds like you've already checked into the resources at the NLAA link above, but if not, take a look.

        The whole TV issue is what kind of forced me to finally address my hearing loss, so I sympathize.  Even when the audio and video are in synch, listening to TV at twice the volume that's necessary for a normal hearing person is annoying to others in the room.

        And, being a bad cell phone connection interpreter?  That sounds like a career path, LOL!!

        "Mitt who? That's an odd name. Like an oven mitt, you mean? Oh, yeah, I've got one of those. Used it at the Atlas Society BBQ last summer when I was flipping ribs."

        by Richard Cranium on Wed Jan 30, 2013 at 10:46:23 AM PST

        [ Parent ]

  •  I don't have hearing loss, but a stroke left me (4+ / 0-)

    With serious auditory processing difficulties.  I, too, need people to face me, both for the information from lip reading and sound directed toward me.  

    If I walk into a restaurant and it is noisy, I walk right out again.  I simply cannot filter layers of noise.  My husband doesn't get that I need him to face me.  So more often than not he talks when walking away.  Then, coming into the room toward me, he shouts.  It's all annoying for both of us.

    The very worst is the phone, especially cell phones.  Putting voice through electronic equipment slices off high and low registers and provides much less information.  There are days when I want to cry if I have to use my phone for something important.  It's mostly okay, but then the entire message turns into complete garbage and I feel like I'm crazy.

    Cats are better than therapy, and I'm a therapist.

    by Smoh on Wed Jan 30, 2013 at 10:52:53 AM PST

    •  Yeah, audiologist said I have that, too (4+ / 0-)

      Discriminating / processing auditory information is a brain function, rather than a physical ear problem.  No idea how I acquired that.  My problem is on the mid-range registers (normal human voice) that my hearing aids don't fully compensate for, especially in a noisy environment.

      "Mitt who? That's an odd name. Like an oven mitt, you mean? Oh, yeah, I've got one of those. Used it at the Atlas Society BBQ last summer when I was flipping ribs."

      by Richard Cranium on Wed Jan 30, 2013 at 12:50:38 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

    •  I avoid telephones (4+ / 0-)

      if at all possible. For years, my friends had to put up with my self imposed exile from the technology rush. I simply can't hear well on a phone and it's too frustrating. There's no other way to put it.

      You take the blue pill, the story ends, you wake up in your bed and believe whatever you want to believe. You take the red pill, you stay in Wonderland, and I show you how deep the rabbit hole goes. -Morpheus/The Matrix

      by Kaos on Wed Jan 30, 2013 at 02:50:25 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  I share your and Richard Cranium's (0+ / 0-)

        hearing loss, and mine, like yours, since childhood. Like yours, mine was due to scarring of the inner ear because of severe ear infections, probably exacerbated by Led Zeppelin, Deep Purple, Johnny Winter and other concerts I went to in high school, and shooting weapons and blowing stuff up in the Army after that. I know we were talking about PTSD in earlier comments and I find it interesting that in similar fashion, as you mention, deafness is not an easily detectable (on sight) disabiliity, and trying to engage people under "normal" circumstances with hearing disorders, one does not often get too much understanding. What I'm inspired to do after reading you all is to get checked and fitted with an aid. I wonder sometimes what I'm missing. Thank you again.

        I discover myself on the verge of a usual mistake. ― Walt Whitman, Song of Myself

        by dannyboy1 on Thu Jan 31, 2013 at 11:11:55 AM PST

        [ Parent ]

  •  Hi, I'm not hearing impaired, but I have (4+ / 0-)

    been translating marketing material for a company that makes hearing aids, so it's a topic that's often on my mind these days. A gentle reminder to be more considerate is always welcome, especially when there is so much strife going on around us on the blog.

    I saw in your profile that you are Native American. We have a very lovely Native American Netroots group here who would surely be happy to have you join. If you are interested, you can ask navajo
    to invite you, or I can ask her, if you would prefer that.

    Here's a link to the group itself, where you will find a long list of diaries related to Native American topics. There is a lot of great reading there!
    Native American Netroots.

    „Wer kämpft, kann verlieren. Wer nicht kämpft, hat schon verloren.“ - Bertolt Brecht

    by translatorpro on Wed Jan 30, 2013 at 11:24:20 AM PST

  •  I lost a chunk of my hearing (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    translatorpro, nomandates, glorificus

    in a catastrophe explosion almost 18 years ago (when I was 49), and hearing aids don't restore any of it. I was, until then, fully hearing and a musician as well - I played flute and hammered dulcimer. Both instruments are pretty much out of my hearing range, along with children's voices, some women's voices, sirens, alarms, doorbells, car horns....

    Yeah.

    People considered me suddenly very rude, even people who'd known me for decades. I totally get what you're saying.

    A lot of the perception by others was mitigated when I was partnered with a hearing assistance dog.  The dog's presence helped alert people that I wasn't rude, I just didn't hear them.  

    Of course, having a service dog brought it's own set of problems...

    All knowledge is worth having. Check out OctopodiCon to support steampunk learning and fun. Also, on DKos, check out the Itzl Alert Network.

    by Noddy on Wed Jan 30, 2013 at 01:27:31 PM PST

  •  I try to remember to talk face-to-face (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    translatorpro

    I do have two friends who are deaf -- one so profoundly deaf from birth that it's hard to understand his speech.  I love him dearly, but communication can be difficult.  I know him best through Internet, where the gracious medium of typing allows me to know him so much better.

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