What is it like to live with hearing loss?
You miss the elevator because you didn’t hear the bell ding.
Oops! You don’t hear that your turn signal is still on!
You may speak too loudly, and people let you know.
You worry about not hearing your name called at the doctor’s or the airport.
P.a. announcements are gobbledy-gook. No one else seems worried, but…
Your friends laugh because your answer had nothing to do with the question.
Your child cries because you didn’t hear him calling you.
Your spouse is grumpy because you ‘tune out’ at dinner parties.
You bluff your way through conversations, and deny it when caught.
Without the benefit of captioning, TV, movies and stage plays might as well be in a foreign language.
By the time you hear the phone ringing, it stops.
When you do answer it, you can’t ‘get’ who it is.
And people do mumble – or at least make speechreading difficult by covering their mouth, speak while chewing food or gum, or simply turn their face away!
No one really appreciates what you’re going through!
If you have hearing loss, every corner of your life is touched.
Or, perhaps it’s your husband, wife or partner who is hard of hearing. (Note: hard of listening is another issue. We’re talking about the real thing here!) It could be a parent, child, or close friend.
Hearing loss affects us all, because it affects communication, the glue that connects us as human beings. When hearing changes, so do we.
I was born hard of hearing, so I’ve spent a lifetime of struggling to grasp what’s being said and being cut off from other people and activities. Thank God for a sense of humour and a good support system! I had good days, bad days, and many mortifying experiences. And for the first 40 years of my life, I didn’t know one either person with hearing loss, apart from my great-grandmother. But when I became involved in hearing loss advocacy a few years ago, I made four important discoveries.
I am not alone. Everyone who has hearing loss – whether it was acquired at birth or later in life – experiences emotions, frustrations and challenges similar to mine.
There are organizations that can help me. Hearing loss consumer groups and service organizations offer hearing loss and speechreading workshops and technical devices expertise. Learning about my hearing loss and taking advantage of what’s available has made life easier.
I must take responsibility for my own hearing loss. Ultimately, it’s up to me to find ways to communicate to the best of my ability, to ask for help and, most importantly, to let others know what I need.
Hearing loss can be difficult to explain to others. It’s not easy to adequately express ‘how’ and ‘why’ it makes me feel and act the way I do.
The first three discoveries helped me cope better with my hearing loss and the fourth gave me a mission – to find a way to express the emotional impact of hearing loss.
The result was Unheard Voices, a one-woman play, a candid and compassionate portrayal of people dealing with the life-changing impact of hearing loss. Since the first performance at my husband’s 50th birthday celebration, thousands of people have seen the live performance (now incorporated in my solo show Ear Rage!) and many thousands more have the DVD or video.
Hearing loss is finally coming out of the closet, and talking about hearing loss is my passion. I hope that by sharing my experiences, you learn feel better about yours.