Month 18 – Life as a deafened human

I’ve tried to keep all my posts mildly upbeat, considering the circumstance. I don’t want to leave a trail of misery in my midst nor give those of you out there in my position any reason to lose hope. But I realise that in doing so I’m also putting a big smile on a tragic situation, and wimping away from speaking the cold hard truth of what it’s like to be deafened.

So today I want to take the strong, resilient, contentedly-coping smile off my daytime face and tell you that to be deafened is to be completely isolated and excluded from our supposedly disabled-friendly society. It is a most lonely place to be. Being deafened is like always sitting at a table of people speaking a foreign language, waiting for someone to remember to interpret for me in a language I can understand. I spend much of my day hoping that someone on the other side of the conversation will remember for longer than 2 minutes that I am deaf.

Connection is why we are it. It’s what gives us meaning and purpose.

No matter how many times I say “I can’t hear you I have 30-50% hearing left could you speak louder”, most people don’t even seem to attempt to raise their voice. Which leaves me, in every conversation with another human being, struggling to rely on my 6th sense, smell and vision to decipher the faint warbles and hums that my ears hear, and then turn this into some sort of logical meaning; and this is all over the consistent shriek of the industrial machinery-style tinnitus in my head which is 5 times louder than that the actual voices around me.

…and then there are the people who get even quieter when I say I can’t hear! What the f^%* is that about? I mean seriously!? I’m giving every ounce of my energy to hearing your precious words because I want so much to hear you. Meanwhile you can’t be bothered to put even a decibel or two to your words for me?!

Not to mention the cinemas, restaurants, bars, concerts, theaters, coffee shops, dinner parties and workshops I now can’t go to. Or the swimming, cycling, running, dancing, diving, swinging, rolling and jumping I can’t do because of my balance issues. The good news is that I have a disabled CEA cinema pass that gives 2 for 1 entry but the bad news is cinemas provide next to zero facilities for deaf people so I why would I go now anyway. That’s how ignorant our society is of deaf people’s needs.

I know I sound bitter today (which is unusual as I’m usually so positive! lol) – it’s been day after day of others not speaking properly to me, in my workplace, on my course, with friends, at the social event, and with my family, none of which are making appropriate adjustments for me. I’m struggling with the imbalance of it, and I’m tired of the work involved to hear people. It’s these ones that keep me going.

As a deafened person I feel like I’m reliant on the beautiful aspects of humanity to show themselves. It’s those angels who occasionally touch me so deeply with their consideration and kindness, when they remind the others in the conversation to talk louder or one at a time so I can hear. The ones that check I am hearing okay because they remember that even though I look normal, I’m not ‘normal’ at all.  The ones who come speak to me properly. I guess these are only ever my closest friends.

I wanted to educate people with this blog but mostly the people who read it are in the same position as me facing the same problems.  No-one who has contacted me so far has lost quite as much hearing as me quite so suddenly but I’d love to hear your tips for how to cope with communicating with others with hearing loss? how do you manage? How has your life changed? what are the new things you spend more time doing now? How do you socialize? Perhaps you have some funny ways of dealing with difficult people? as usual I’d love to hear from you…