Gaynor Young: “With the loss of my hearing my sense of touch grew super-profound”

Posted on November 5, 2013

Before I was fitted with my Cochlear Implants, going to restaurants with a group of friends was a total nightmare. I battled to understand what was being said.

I found that cupping a person under the chin (with my hand) made it easier for me to pick up what they were saying. I was able to feel the vibration of their voices in this way. (There is also something strangely attractive and flirtatious about cupping a man’s face in your hands!)

It is odd how our senses work. When a sense of yours is killed off, the others are heightened in their sensitivity. With the loss of my hearing and eyesight my sense of touch grew super-profound! I was able to feel what people were saying. And boy,did I feel some amazing things!

An added problem was that many restaurants have music playing in the background. Piped music to add to the restaurant’s “wonderful allure”!!! In the background! Ha!

When one is deaf, dealing with background music is always a nightmare. A total, unendurable nightmare! I would sit there desperately trying to lip read what everyone was saying. Inevitably I would call the manager over and say: “Excuse me, I am deaf. Would you mind turning the music down?”

The manager would always go and turn the music down with a slightly bewildered look on his face. It was only when my family pointed out the contradictory nature of my request, that I was able to see the funny side. “I am deaf. Please could you turn the music down?”

The thing is that when one is deaf, sound is incredibly important. Certain sounds take priority. The voices of my friends and family are the most important thing. Anything that interferes with hearing them must be banished. Or turned down at least!

What I never appreciated until speaking to my friend, B, was that hearing people also get gatvol (fed up) with background music. Her father hates muzak in restaurants, supermarkets and lifts so much so that he has joined a great organisation called Pipedown. This campaigns against “noise pollution”!

In the words of Stephen Fry, the playwright, another Pipedown supporter, “Piped water, piped oil, piped gas, yes!  But never piped music!”

By Gaynor Young

Gaynor is an ex-actress from South Africa. In 1989 she had an accident whist acting which left her deaf, brain-damaged and disabled. Now, she is a bi-lateral cochlear implant user. Her book My Plunge to Fame was published in 2000. She writes her blog ‘ear ‘ear ( about her deafness, brain damage and disability and most of all, her love of life!

Follow her on twitter: @earearblog  

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