I Can't Hear You
I am profoundly deaf. It has been years since I could hear a cricket chirp, a bird's song and listen to music, knowing what is being played or what key it is in. It did not develop suddenly, but slowly and gradually for the last 20 years or so. I have gone through a grieving process, denial, anger and finally acceptance. I am not quite there yet, but am making progress.
I am the child of people who became deaf as they aged and have wondered many times how they were so calm and accepting. I no longer cry out in anger about it, but still have moments when being deaf seems too much. I have had a series of hearing aids and each one has been a help. Without a hearing aid now, I have silence and it is complete.
As the degree of deafness increases, I've learned to read lips and use inadvertent signs the speaker makes and may not be aware of. I do well with my hearing aid if: (1)Just one person is speaking. (2)There is no other sound to compete. (3)The light is on his face. (4)He speaks slowly and distinctly looking directly at me mouthing his words.
Spouses are noticeably impatient with finding themselves in this situation. It must be hard to live with someone who is deaf; there is too much time spent during the day trying to communicate with one who hears so poorly. My husband loves conversing and we used to get great enjoyment hashing over things. Now only the important things receive the required perseverance. "You left the water running," or "the pot on the stove is boiling over, or dry, or on fire." You, as a hearing impaired person don't develop better eyesight or a sense of smell, but you do learn to rely on those sense more, and to notice what is going on visually.
Helen Keller has said that if she could have one of her senses restored, she would choose to hear. Lack of sight cuts one off from things but deafness cuts one off from people, she said. I agree. I have always been a social person and my husband says that if there was anything going on, I was always in the middle of it.
My children are a bit of help. One of my sons cues me in to what is going on by signing from the alphabet. I keep a white board and pens handy for anyone who is willing to tell me complicated things. Each of our children has a computer and they installed and taught me how to use a one. We correspond that way, even though some of them live nearby, and we see each other often. They email what I need to know and I am grateful for that.
I have been a great reader and now am writing. It was partly from frustration, but now I find I am enjoying putting words on paper. When I meet people and they continue to talk to me, I smile when they smile, and frown when they frown and sometimes understand a word or two which guides me in how to respond. Needless to say, I watch the person very carefully while he is speaking and that in itself is pleasing to most people. Sometimes, rarely, it puts them off. When one is quite deaf, the process of visiting is hard work and hard to sustain for more than a short time.
It has been years since I could use the telephone. When my husband retired, we set up a retail business. It was fine for several years but then I could not use the phone and he had to deal with all the business.
Little children, ages two to four, are able to communicate with a deaf person. They are very patient and don't use superfluous words.They point to where you keep the cookies and you immediately know what they want. They also keep repeating a word or two to let you know what is wanted. Sometimes I have to say, "show me" and they point or lead me to the location or object they want me to understand. They don't mind questions from me to get their message across, but I have yet to have a grown person to do that.
It might be fun.