Guest blog by Affina de Jong-Tinga, British Columbia.
The losses we experience in our lives do not readily come up for discussion. We either avoid them or let them be, no questions asked. That way we don't have to lie. Most of the time we don't know what to say anyway, or we say something that is totally not helpful: "You must miss out on a lot of things."
My usual answer: "I don't think I miss too much."
My hearing loss has been a big adjustment. Gradually it has become worse, and now it is profound. Modern technology has been a great bonus for me, such as a digital hearing aid as well as my computer and iPad that I use to make my voice heard. Using closed captioning, I can still watch TV. An FM system (hearing loop) works well for me, but the telephone just does not cut it anymore.
Not being able to hear well brings many frustrations, but I try to put this loss in the right perspective. It is no one’s fault. Although I have remind people that they are speaking too fast and are not articulating their words well, in reality nobody is to blame.
I am blessed with an inquisitive mind, but sometimes it has become a stumbling block. For instance: when I sit in church I need to be able to hear what the pastor is saying and praying. I cannot possibly sit there and act as if everything is okay, when I don't have a clue what is said. So I have learned to ask for help. Fortunately I have pastors who are most willing to send me their sermons in advance, so that I can follow every word on my iPad during the service. I thank them regularly for their efforts.
It is difficult for others to remember what my loss is all about, and I understand that. Sometimes even my own children forget, although they try to make accommodations whenever they can.
Helping the hard of hearing is an educational process. Here are some helpful hints.
- Always face the person you are talking to.
- Talk slower, not louder.
- Make sure the other can see your lips when you talk. (I do a lot of lip reading.)
- Find a quiet environment to have a conversation. (At church, when someone wants to talk to me, I usually move towards the empty council room.)
- Use pen and paper when needed to clarify the situation.
- Have patience. Sometimes a person will say something to me, and I miss the point. So I ask him/her to say it again.
I make one blunder after another and we can laugh about it, which is great. No need to take myself so seriously. And no apology needed either. If I repeat what I think the other person is saying, it is often different. We both have a good laugh.
It does not get easier as time goes on, but one thing has helped me greatly. Though I am alone, I am not lonely. As I regularly assess my situation, I discover that there are lots of things I still can do. I love knitting and crocheting. I love to surprise people and give away handmade items. I have a passion for books and love reading a good story. Any kind of music is out. I can think, write, see, feel, touch, smell. When I look at all the possibilities, life becomes exciting again.