Thursday, May 23, 2013

Dealing With Deafness:
The Continuing Challenges
Thursday May 23, 2013

It has now been a little over four months since I lost my hearing.  It was four months ago today, on my first visit to the specialist that he mentioned the possibility of a Cochlear Implant.  His comment was that if I did not regain my recently lost hearing, I would be a candidate for the Cochlear Implant.  I had always thought that my type of hearing loss could not be helped by the implant.  What the doctors over the years had said was that I was not a candidate for the implant.  What they really meant was: at that time (in years past), my hearing was not bad enough for me to be eligible for one.  Now, it is bad enough. 

It is just about 2 1/2 weeks until my surgery!  Wow!  Time in some ways seems to be flying and in others it seems so long since I could really hear what was being said.  This week I seem to be struggling more to understand what is being said by others.  A week ago, I developed a sore spot in the outer ear from the ear buds I had been using, so my husband went to Radio Shack and got me a set of headphones.  They are the ones that block noises from the outside that might be a problem to other people, but I don't think that matters to me since I don't hear those sounds anyway.  Unless I press the headphones very snugly, against my head, I hear less well with them than with the ear buds, but the ear buds, besides causing the sore spot, were more uncomfortable.  For now, the headphones are working for me, but not very well.

At the office this week, I managed fairly well when dealing with customers; at least I thought I was doing OK, but a couple of times my husband would get up from his work desk and come take over with a customer when I had totally misunderstood what they wanted.  I thought I knew, but was not even close on one of them and just a little off with another.  When alone at the office, I have to totally depend on the strobe lights to let me know if someone has come into the shop.  Yesterday I was working in my office with my back to the strobe (but where I could look into the showroom), standing under the buzzer, yet several times I had no idea someone had come in until I saw them through the door to my office.  So I gave up on the project I was doing and went back to my computer where I would be facing the strobe light and could see the monitor that is linked to the camera in the showroom.   Others complain about how loud the buzzer on the door is, but I have no clue when it has sounded except that it is connected to the strobe lights.  So I must stay where I can either see the strobe or see the doors that customers enter through.  I can do that, it just limits what other things I can work on between customers.  It is a constant trial and error and balancing act to find what works for us.  It is working, and Ron was able to take care of several customers out of the office this week.

Since I am hearing less with the headphones than the ear buds, Sunday at church was very hard.  This evening Ron (my husband) and I went to supper with my Mom as we do most Thursday evenings.  Mom sat beside me and Ron across from us.  Even with Mom very close, and my amplifier between us on the table (in a quiet, back room of a cafeteria), I heard only about half of what she said.  I had her repeat a lot, but several times just gave up.  Same with my husband, couldn't get it all and sometimes it was just too hard to keep asking them to repeat again and again.  We had been out last night also and I stopped to speak to a family on the way out and as soon as I did, I realized it was a bad idea.  I just couldn't carry on a conversation.  Those are the times I really struggle emotionally.

We are going to spend the weekend with our youngest son and we will be meeting a very special young lady in his life along with her mother.  We will also be seeing another son and his family for a quick visit.  It saddens me to know that much of what is said won't reach my brain.  Both of these sons were very creative when they visited us shortly after I lost my hearing.  The youngest, Stephen, would sit beside me and use his laptop to type out much of what was being said (thankfully he types fast), and I was better able to be a part of conversations around the table.  My enjoyment and participation in group settings is dependent upon the efforts of others to see to it that I can be involved.  None of us like that.  We want to be independent.  We don't want to have to depend on others or  impose on them, but for this period of my life, I don't really have another choice. 

When Stephen was here in early February, he took his laptop to church and typed the announcements and the sermon for me as the service progressed.  I sure wish for him every Sunday.  I might not have missed the Mother's Day banquet if he had been typing out the announcements beside me when that was announced.  Ron helps in the vestibule during the service so he had not heard the announcement either.  When we attend church with Stephen this coming Sunday, I hope has has the battery on the laptop charged and ready to go.  He has always been very sensitive to my hearing needs.  Maybe one of the reasons is that being the youngest, he grew up with me not hearing well.  When the older boys were growing up, my hearing was fairly normal.  Stephen has spent his life repeating things for me and correcting things I have misunderstood.

Today included a couple of doctor visits.  One for me and one for my husband.  His visit was related to his stopped up ears and mine was with my dermatologist, related to my rosacea (a facial skin condition).  All the medications I have been on during this time of the hearing loss, have had a major negative effect on the skin problem.  A couple of the prescriptions have helped (mainly the steroids) but others are making it worse.  So it was time to go back to the doctor for help.  I am not sure he can help much at this point since I am allergic to the one approved antibiotic for the condition.  After a lifetime of not wearing makeup, the time may be here to give in and use it.

As I mentioned in another blog entry, I don't want this to be viewed as complaining, but rather I would like to share with others the truth about what is going on in my life and what others with similar problems may be dealing with on a daily basis.  We all know someone who can't hear well.  My prayer is that you will begin to understand their struggles and become creative in the ways that you can help them stay involved in all the activities they once enjoyed.  Sometimes we don't know how to help; that has been the case with my family, but we continue to try to find the things that make life more enjoyable for all of us in spite of my deafness.


  1. Thank you for sharing your story with us. I wait for your next blog. You would thing in this day and age that there would be a teleapromtor that people could talk to so that you could read. Cell phones and Ipads have speach search for everything. It would be hard to read if several people where talking, but one on one would be great. I know that the time is flying by and you will have this all behind you. You are in our prayers and I know and feel that when we get back in the Vally this will be a faded memory.
    God Bless you and your family.

    1. You are so right that we would think in this day and age there would be technology to provide written translation from the spoken word. There are some but by your statements, you show that you truly understand that there is a very specific and unique need and I don't find anything affordable to do what I think could best help me. We appreciate the prayers. Thank you.

  2. Linda, nothing you've written comes across as complaining. You do a fine job explaining what it's like to cope with profound hearing loss. I'm counting the days until your implant is activated.

    I thought of you while I walked in a nearby park last week. Bird sounds accompanied me the whole way. You WILL be able to hear the birds that visit your back yard.

    Thanks for this blog.

    1. Thank you, Pat. Having walked this road, you really understand the challenges. I am glad you are hearing the birds (and so much more) and I know that will be coming soon for me, too. I appreciate your input.