Angie Aspinall started going deaf in one ear at the age of 30, then suffered total sudden onset hearing loss in her ‘good’ ear in 2011. Here she has listed some of the things people have said to her since she started losingher hearing…
Last week, I listed some of the things doctors have said to me since I started losing my hearing. Here are a few more, from people who are not in the medical profession…
“What’s wrong with you? Don’t you speak English?”
This was from a cobbler. I had a pair of boots that were fairly old – but I liked them. One was rubbing my heel where the lining had frayed. I’d asked if he could stitch something inside (I’d asked in English, obviously). I couldn’t understand what he was saying to me (and had already struggled with his colleague who had suggested I put a piece of carpet in there). What on earth was this guy suggesting..?
I told him I understood English perfectly well but that I was deaf and couldn’t tell what he was saying. I lifted up my hair to reveal a hearing aid. He looked mortified and his colleague looked disgusted with him. I said, “I didn’t mean to embarrass you. I still don’t know what you were saying. Could you say it again in another way?”
Eventually, I realised he was saying “sponge” which became clearer when he said ‘bath sponge’ and ‘washing up sponge’. I would never have worked it out in a month of Sundays otherwise. Just try lipreading the word ‘sponge’ and you’ll see what I mean! It didn’t do the trick and the boots ended up in the bin. It did make me wonder how he’d treat a customer who didn’t speak very good English – and I have since taken my business elsewhere.
“What can you hear now then? Can you hear me speaking to you?”
This was from someone I’d been speaking to for half an hour.
“Well, I can understand why people don’t think you’re deaf. I never have any trouble communicating with you… But then again, I don’t know how hard you’re working to understand me.”
This was from someone close to me, quite recently.
On telling a former work colleague about getting my hearing aids but needing them adjusted they said, “Oh well, when they get it right, you’ll be ‘back to normal’.”
“I do find it frustrating that I can’t speak to you on the phone. The number of times I pick the phone up to call you and then realise I can’t call you…”
Yes, funnily enough I find it ‘frustrating’ that I can’t use the phone too.
On the lighter side, someone who works in my building society asked how I was getting on with my hearing (as she hadn’t seen me for ages and the last time was just after my sudden profound deafness). “I’m still deaf,” I said. “But I’ve got a really clever hearing aid that sends a Bluetooth wireless signal to the aid in my other ear so I can get a sense of left and right.” I showed her the CROS aid.
As quick as a flash she smiled and said, “That’s neat. We get a lot of customers in here with hearing aids nowadays. Young people like you. It’s just like people wearing glasses I always think.”
What a refreshing perspective. She made me smile. There was a time when I would have been mortified at someone asking me about my deafness in a public space – especially as my answer involved me saying I was now profoundly deaf in that ear. Now, I was glad she’d asked though, as it showed she cared and more to the point, it didn’t matter to her or make her treat me differently.
I wish more people with hearing loss felt that having hearing aids had no more stigma attached to them than wearing glasses – but we all know it still does. But, I hope that the more we write blogs like this, the more we’ll empower one another to break the taboo and talk about our deafness, our aids and our needs.
It’s ironic really that I write on Limping Chicken as when I first learned to lipread, my goal was for nobody to find out I had hearing loss. Now here I am writing about it for all the world to see! The more I speak – and write – about my hearing loss, the more confident I become. Nobody’s ever run, screaming when I’ve told them I’m deaf. Nor has anyone pointed and laughed.
Some have even made an effort to communicate more effectively with me so, that can only be a good thing.
Angie is a journalist, food and travel writer, photographer and co-founder of #Yorkshirehour on Twitter – as well as having a full-time job in local government. She’s also a wife, chicken-keeper, gardener, foodie and WI member, living in Glorious Yorkshire. Angie started going deaf in one ear at the age of 30, then suffered total sudden onset hearing loss in her ‘good’ ear in 2011. Her husband and her chickens keep her sane – or as close as she’s gonna get! You can check out her website, blog, twitter account, Facebook and Linked In.
The Limping Chicken is the world's most popular Deaf blog, and is edited by Deaf journalist and filmmaker Charlie Swinbourne.
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