Deafness

Revealing broken ears

Okay, all you Hard-of-Hearies out there, do you ever get extremely self conscious when you go to a big group meeting? I DO! I never know when the “right” time is to jump in and say “oh, by the way, I can’t hear worth crap so please pay special attention when you speak to me.” It always feels like a complete cop-out. Like I’m not strong enough or good enough to do it on my own without others knowing I can’t hear. And I never know if I should tell people individually so I can field questions, or if I should just blurt it out and get it over with or what.

I also stumble over the words sometimes. Like, do I say “I am deaf,” which might give the impression I can’t hear anything at all when I can actually hear a little. Or do I say, “I have a hearing loss,” which just sounds a little too negative to me. Or, “I am hard of hearing,” which sounds like my ears are going to break off in the near future. I just don’t like any of the terminology that society has come up with. It’s all a “label” of some sort. And I hate being labeled because I’m so much more than just my hearing loss. We all are!

Anyways, sorry for that ramble…. the point is, last night, I stood up in front of a really large group and told them, in no uncertain terms, that I couldn’t hear well. I gave a short explanation, quickly said, “look at me when you’re speaking to me,” and also told them that if they were talking behind me or something, I wasn’t ignoring them. Promise! I got a good laugh, got the info out to everyone at once, and felt so much better for having done so!

Apparently it was the perfect night to do it too, because the large group broke off into smaller groups of about 8 people. 6 groups of 8-ish people in one room all talking at once. Yeeeeeshhh…. Yeah that wasn’t hard at all! BUT, our little group sat in a circle, so we could all see each other. And when we realized how loud the room was going to be, we all scooted close together. There were “get to know each other” questions printed on paper, which each person read and then passed to me in case I missed something! They spoke clearly and one at a time. AND….. *drumroll* I DIDN’T HAVE TO TELL THEM TO DO ANY OF IT!!!

Can you say “wowza” or what?

Needless to say, it was a great evening and a relief to get that point out of the way. Now I can just be “me” and enjoy this wonderful group of ladies.

What have been your experiences in situations like this?

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3 thoughts on “Revealing broken ears

  1. WOWZA, indeed!! I’m glad you had such a positive experience! What kind of group was this?

    My experiences have been similar. I’ve only just recently gathered up the courage to even attend group functions *and* to address the hearing loss issue. I usually just try to treat it lightly because I figure they will respond to me the way that I respond to my hearing aids. I introduce myself and address whatever questions I’m supposed to (like my name, where I’m from, etc) and then just kind of throw in a “P.S.” at the end by saying something like, “Oh, and I am hard of hearing and it would really help a lot if I could see your faces when you’re talking and if you’re trying to have a private conversation, you should probably turn away because I’m a master eavesdropper! ;-)” That gets some laughs, too. I think the important thing is to put other people at ease, too.

    But I’ve been thinking that I need to be more clear when I give my little introductions. Mostly I just say that I need to see their faces, but I should probably also ask if we could take turns speaking. And once the conversation has started, I need to be more proactive about asking for clarification when I need it. People are mostly accommodating, though.

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  2. Hi! I was in your small group that night (and recipient of your gift). You seemed so at ease when you told everyone, like you had done it a million times. I appreciated knowing especially since we are all there to learn, share, communicate with one another. I hope you’ll feel comfortable reminding us if anyone forgets. It was a pleasure to get to visit with you and all the others in our small group!

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  3. Lucy – it was the KC Modern Quilt Guild. I just became a member last month. This was my second meeting. Lovely people like Melissa are in it!

    Melissa – Thanks!! It’s nice to know I come across well. I have done this “a million times before” but not for a group this size, and not without reinforcements! It’s a little unnerving to do so without someone else there to help interpret things for me, especially if the group hadn’t been so positively responsive. I look forward to chatting with you again!

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