When I was 18 I lost my hearing due to illness. Having a sense taking away from you overnight is traumatising. To go from perfect hearing to imperfect. All those songs that I loved. All that music that my sister and I would listen to in our bedrooms and dance to. All those heavy beats in those clubs I’d started going to. Lucy my cat purring. Watching TV. Conversations with more than one person. All that changed for me.
It’s really hard to explain to somebody when you have imperfect hearing what it is you can actually hear. When people tell me to turn the volume up on the television it’s difficult to convey that clarity is important not just volume. When people joke and say do I have to have subtitles on whilst watching television as they find it distracting, my reply is let’s put the TV on mute and then you’ll be able to hear what I hear. I make my own lyrics up to songs if I do listen to music. Pre hearing loss I was a huge hip hop and R&B fan which is so hard to listen to now as I can never understand the lyrics. For years I thought Destiny’s Child were singing ‘Lemonade, Lemonade’ not ‘Say my name, say my name’. I never listen to music at home. I do listen to music when I go to the gym and wear headphones in both ears though if the right ear piece falls out I can’t hear anything. I also only listen to music pre 1990 as this was when I lost my hearing.
Things that happen to me being partially deaf……..
I get shouted at. I’ve been told I’m stupid, rude, ignorant, stuck up, not interested, etc etc because I haven’t heard someone.
Someone once told me that I should just try a bit harder at listening…….
It has shaped who I am and has made me a stronger person. This is my life and I get on with it and I cope how I can. I don’t want to go to the theatre, because the minute the actor or actress turns from facing the audience and I can’t see them, I can’t hear what they’re saying. I don’t want to go to a venue where one person is talking on a stage and there are maybe 200 people in the room and I’m at the back, because I can’t hear what they’re saying. I don’t want to go to a dinner party with 10 other people because I can’t keep up with lipreading everyone or hear what everyone is saying, and find it exhausting and sometimes depressing. I don’t want to go to a gig and listen to a band I don’t know because I can’t understand what they’re singing.
I will go to the ballet. I will go to an event which is small. I will go to an event that is small and that I can be near the front or right at the front to hear better, I don’t sit at the front because I’m a swot or nerdy, I sit at the front so I can hear. I will go out and dance to music pre hearing loss because I can remember those lyrics.
Things that really help me to hear you better. Please don’t whisper. Please don’t put your hand over your mouth when you talk to me. Please don’t shout when you talk to me because it distorts your mouth and makes it harder to lipread. Please don’t turn away when you talk to me. Please don’t ever say it doesn’t matter if I didn’t hear you even on the second attempt. Please don’t think I’m stupid, rude, ignorant, stuck up, or not interested because I hadn’t heard you.
This week is Deaf Awareness Week. Remember you can’t always see if someone has a hearing problem. There are some great tweets and linked blog posts if you look at #DeafAwarenessWeek on Twitter.