A Hearing Loss & Late Deafened Blog

Be What You Want the World to See

In Deafness, Hearing Loss, Life on November 20, 2014 at 5:11 pm

By Michele Linder

be who you want the world to see

You just never know… there will be moments when people cross your path at the exact time you need them, for the exact encouragement you are looking for. I’ve had this happen to me countless times in my life, and when it happens I’m always in awe of how the universe looks out for me.

Then, on the flip side, you just never know when your presence in another’s life will be just what they need at that moment. Those moments are just as awe-inspiring, they serve to give you confidence, and to let you know all of the struggling you’ve done to get to a better place can have value, not only for you, but also for others who are struggling and searching for answers.

Sometimes all that is needed is someone to cry with. Never underestimate the power of sharing tears and letting down your guard to show compassion. It means a lot no matter which end you are on.

One morning last week, I got up at 5:30 to leave the house in order to drive (an hour and a half) to Grand Rapids for an appointment with the Morton Building people to talk about some barn improvements I’m looking to make to our pole barn. The gentleman who handles our area of Minnesota seemed very nice via our email conversation, and upon meeting him I could tell he was very eager to accommodate my hearing loss, which I had made him aware of through our Internet correspondence.

Morton Man and I walked to his office and got down to the business of barn brainstorming.  During our meeting, there came a point when we needed to go out into the warehouse to look at some of the applications we were discussing. Talking while walking came into play, and, of course, when someone is trying to show you something and talk at the same time they tend to point at what they’re talking about. Pointing also means they tend to look at what they are pointing at, which is a train wreck for a lipreader, so the Morton Man kept apologizing for looking away as he pointed. I told him it was okay, as there is a learning curve, he would eventually get it.

The Morton Man paused, and I could clearly see he was collecting himself to tell me something personal. When he spoke, he told me our interaction was actually very good training for him because he had a 4 year-old granddaughter with a conductive hearing loss. As he shared her story, it was clear how concerned he and his family were for her and how emotional it was to see their beloved girl struggle to hear. This began a 15 minute discussion about hearing loss, how really debilitating it can be, but also how manageable it can become if you have the right attitude and tools. We talked at length about the information that was out there and how to go about finding that information, and I shared some of my own experiences with him, telling him how hearing loss does threaten to take much from you, but it can’t take more than you let it. At one point he actually broke down and cried and had to collect himself before he continued speaking. I instinctively gave him a hug and let him know that it was okay to cry, as hearing loss is very upsetting. Tears are common and very appropriate.

As we walked back to the office and began again talking about my barn, the Morton Man paused once more to say, “I have kind of a strange request… my daughter’s office is just a couple of miles down the street and I think it would be beneficial for her to talk to you and to see someone who is deaf and who handles it so well.”

I told the Morton Man, “Sure, I’d be glad to stop in and meet your daughter. We can exchange contact information and I can share some resources with her that might help her deal with her daughter’s ongoing hearing loss.”

Our meeting on barn matters concluded and I followed Morton Man to his daughter’s office. The daughter and I had a very similar conversation as the one I had had with her dad, as he looked on. I repeated some of the same information that I had given him and there were about three instances where the daughter teared up and had to compose herself, which, of course, made her dad break down. I held her hand or hugged her each time and then went over and hugged her dad. It came in handy that I come from a family of contagious criers… I’m pretty comfortable with tears.

We all exchanged information and I promised to email the daughter with some research results on groups she might join for parents of children with hearing loss and other information I thought she might find helpful.

The final thought I left the Morton Man and his daughter with was this: Make sure you instill in your granddaughter/daughter that there isn’t anything she can’t do because of her hearing loss. And when you come up against people who might discourage your girl from participating in something because she can’t hear, move on to the next person, and the next until you find that one person who says, “Let’s see what you can do.” If she knows she can do anything, believes it, and then acts upon it, it becomes true… she’ll be okay.

And their little girl will be okay… it won’t be easy, there will be challenges, but she’ll learn some good things along the way to carry into who she becomes as an adult.

Yes, you can be capable, confident, strong, and deaf.  I’ve learned that from people who have crossed my path at the exact moment I needed them, saying “You’re not alone, you’ll be okay.” I’m thankful for the opportunity to pay it forward on days when I’m able to be what I want the world to see.

 

 

 

 

Just Trying to Breathe

In coping strategies, Employment, Hearing Loss on November 13, 2014 at 11:44 am

By: Sara Lundquist
drowning pictureThis past month I have felt like this a lot.  I have felt like I am drowning.  Yes I try to be the optimist, the glass is half full type of girl.  I just can’t keep that up all the time.  I can’t keep the smile on my face that everything is fine and everything is great.  I am the glue that tries to keep it all together in my family but lately I am having a hard time doing this.

I finally confided in my husband and told him that I am really having a hard time keeping it all together lately.  I feel like I am drowning and I am sick of keeping the smile on my face when I miss half a conversation and have no idea what someone said to me when they walk up to me at school or church.  I am sick of working so hard to understand all that is being said.  I am just sick and tired of life being hard.

Everyone has troubles in their lives and I try not to ever be a person that says well my troubles are worse than your troubles.  I hate when someone says, “At least it is not cancer.”  Yes I am glad of that also but guess what hearing loss, a son on the autism spectrum, anxiety, and so on isn’t that great either.  Everyone has trials in their lives, let them grieve and work through their trials.  Don’t discount it that a problem isn’t big enough, in their life it is a mountain.

My husbands employer has this new health insurance hoops you have to jump through.  We have to do an online health assessment and then talk to a health advisor.  I am fine with this until they talked to me about the stress and anxiety aspect.  1st off they knew of the hearing loss since that was one of the questions I had to answer.  They asked why I have stress.  I told them I walk into a building and I always feel off guard at first if I will understand people talking to me and understand what is being said there.  Their answer was deep breathing and I just need to believe and tell myself that everything is good and I can hear it all.  REALLY- I was hoping for some relaxation techniques.  I informed them I can’t make the hearing loss go away so in reality I am not going to hear it all.  They came back with I can tell myself I hear fine and that will take care of the stress.  Wow I didn’t know how to respond.  If this is what the insurance companies are going to tell us we can will all our troubles and our worlds troubles away.

I work at the school as a substitute teacher.  It seems to be getting harder and harder in some ways.  I like certain classrooms a lot, I like the high school.  I know I can hear decent in them and I know I won’t run into problems.  But the hallways, lunchroom, and the elementary school I just want to run away.  I feel like the air is being squeezed out of me.  I hate it and there is no way I can hear anything.  The elementary school is like a horror movie for me.  Little voices and always a sea of background noise I just cringe going in there.  This past week I was to work at the elementary school Monday and Tuesday.  I felt sick all weekend even thinking about these two days.  I don’t know what my negative feelings did but we ended up getting an early November snowstorm, we received over a foot of snow.  SNOW DAY on Monday and two hours late on Tuesday.  My prayers were answered!!! I hate that I dread going to work or certain places.  I hate that I have this sense of failure of events coming up.

I just need to get over these feelings.  I will, I am not worried about it.  I will learn some new coping techniques.  I am trying to learn speech reading which I really believe will be a huge asset to me.  I need to reach out to the friends that I know will be there when there is a bad day and understand.  I need to speak up, I need to say what I need instead of saying sorry like I was a problem.

It is going to be a long winter I am afraid.  This will be my winter to learn new things.  Maybe just maybe when spring comes again I will have some new skills and instead of this drowning feeling I am having I will be having a sense of renewal, just like my tulips coming up to see the sun.

Hearing Loss: No small sacrifice

In Deafness, Hearing aids, Hearing Loss, Purchasing hearing aids, Tinnitus on November 11, 2014 at 12:15 pm

By Michele Linder

Veterans HL

In 1980, as a newly married military spouse, I found myself almost 2,500 miles from the place I had always called home.  It was the beginning of an adventure and life I had never dreamed of.  It was also the point at which I took charge of the hearing loss I had been diagnosed with in grade school.

I scheduled an audiology/ENT appointment at the base hospital.  Audiograms were discussed, hearing aids were ordered, ear molds were made, thus beginning a long association with various ENTs, audiologists, and hearing aid trials over my adult life.

Back then, Champus (renamed TriCare) was the military medical/healthcare entity, and as the policy was explained, I, a military dependent, was eligible for Champus to pay for hearing aids since the severity of my loss fell within the guidelines of “handicapped”. However, should hearing aids improve my hearing to the point where I no longer could be considered handicapped, then I would have to pay for the hearing aids myself.

In essence, if the hearing aids gave me benefit Champus wouldn’t pay.  Even in 1980, hearing aids weren’t cheap, even less so on an enlisted Marine’s salary, and it was difficult to see the logic in government policy. I’m hopeful the policy for dependents has long since changed and improved.

In August 2013, a Back Home: The Enduring Battles Facing Post-9/11 Veterans article, War is Loud: Hearing Loss Most Common Veteran Injury, cited a 2010 spending report which stated, “…the VA buys one in five hearing aids sold annually in the U.S.”

Hearing loss is the most common disability among all veterans.

On this Veterans Day, we would like to thank all who have served their country in uniform for their service and sacrifice, and that includes those in our own ranks who often share their experience of hearing loss and tell of the care they’ve received through the VA. I’d like to say all have a positive story to tell, but unfortunately there is still room for improvement among those who actively served.

Many hearing people are in the dark about how absolutely debilitating hearing loss and tinnitus can be, but most of us here in the SayWhatClub have firsthand knowledge of the difficulty auditory injury and loss poses in the lives of those who must live with these conditions.

Hearing loss is no small sacrifice.

For more information, visit the Department of Defense, Hearing Center of Excellence (HCE) website, the Veteran’s Health Council, and Military.com.

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