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Listen to this…

January 10, 2011

I often forget I’m deaf, but sometimes it kicks me in the face and leaves me feeling a little isolated. Not in an Emo ‘oh woe is me’ way, more in a frustrated ‘ahhh crap’ way.

I’ve no idea why I’m partially deaf, but it was discovered when I was around six. I can’t hear anything in my right ear, and I have reduced hearing in my left. To me, it’s a just a fact. It’s not a huge or obvious problem, but sometimes it’s a mighty pain in the behind!

Lunch today, for example, was mostly spent watching people’s mouths move (not whilst chewing I hasten to add) and trying to match words to the shapes. I failed, epically. I missed most of the conversation and gave up trying to join in, but I did endeavour to smile and nod at the right places. I think I got away with it.

According to a survey by the RNID only two million people out of the 8,945,000 deaf or hard of hearing people in the UK wear hearing aids. I’m one of the 6,945,000 people who don’t. I used to have those devilishly sexy over-the-ear aids, the ones with the brown control box that contained the battery, microphone and all-important ‘T’ switch that I never once used and to this day I’m still not sure what it was supposed to do. By the time I was 13, I had the hearing aids, glasses and a brace – Ugly Betty had nothing on me – and I gave up wearing them.

To tell the truth, it wasn’t even the aesthetic of them that eventually put me off, it was the fact that they really weren’t much help. Everything was louder but that didn’t help me pick out the sounds, be it voices or otherwise, that I needed to hear. Today’s environment was a perfect example; the acoustics in the restaurant created one big cacophony and individual voices were swallowed up. Amplifying the babble with hearing aids just gives me a headache, the icing on the cake of isolation.

I’ve become so used to accepting or explaining that I can’t hear what’s being said that it doesn’t seem out of the ordinary for me. Neither do I feel the need to look for a solution. In fact, I think this is the first time I’ve ever written about my deafness and how it sometimes affects my life, which, considering the career path I’ve chosen, actually surprises me.

Being deaf should probably be more of an issue in my working life, but whether it’s due to a subconscious decision not to let it affect me, or whether I’ve just be extremely fortunate to never have come up against something that’s caused a big problem I’m not sure.

It’s not all bad though, on the flip side, if there’s someone I really don’t like or particularly want to speak to I can sit them on my right side and get away with ignoring then be aghast with shock half an hour later when I realise I’ve not heard a word!


4 Comments leave one →
  1. chris Whitehouse permalink
    January 10, 2011 9:07 pm

    For all the years I’ve known you – even through ORCHESTRA, I did not know you were deaf. (I capitalised that purely as I’m amazed at how well you played with such a condition).

    Hats off as they say

    • January 10, 2011 9:23 pm

      Really? I thought you knew! Its probably why I never went any further than orchestra though! haha 🙂

  2. January 13, 2011 10:42 pm

    Sounds like (er, no pun intended!) that your experiences of being deaf are very similar to mine. I certainly relate to what you have written. I do still wear my hearing aids as I could not cope day to day – certainly not at work. Colleagues and friends often tell me they forget I am deaf (even when I’m wearing my hearing aids) which goes to show how good deaf people are at coping. It doesn’t mean the disability is not there though, and the days that remind you that you are not the same as others are the worst. For me it hits me worse socially than it does my ability to carry out my job.

  3. Lisa Anthony permalink
    January 25, 2011 10:32 pm

    What a great blog Sara! I’ve known you for oooh about 25 years (scary huh?) and I still forget that you are deaf. Just shows how well you cope with it.


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