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I Don’t Want to Go Through Life Getting Plain Toast

In coping strategies, Deafness, Hearing Loss, late deafened, Support on June 23, 2013 at 10:02 am

Do you ever wonder what the benefit of joining a hearing loss group is? For me, the most amazing thing has been connecting with others just like me. This is a common theme of newcomers to SayWhatClub… they’ve gone through most of their life never knowing another person with hearing loss. They’ve never experienced the understanding of another who knows what it’s like to be them. This one, simple thing is what has most impacted my life after joining this group.

Several months ago, I read Cheryl Strayed’s “Tiny Beautiful Things”, a compilation of Cheryl’s “Dear Sugar, the Rumpus Advice Column”, and I found much of the advice Sugar gave to the people who wrote to her could be applied to anything in life that is hard.

In COLUMN #44: HOW YOU GET UNSTUCK, the letter writer, “Stuck”, is a woman who miscarried at 6 months and was devastated by her loss… she had many well meaning people in her life who told her she should “be over her loss by now”, and some minimized her struggle in an attempt to push her out of her grief.

Here, in part, is what Dear Sugar told “Stuck”, with some of the specifics stricken through and substituted with words that apply to hearing loss:

“Many of those people love you and are worthy of your love, but they are not the people who will be helpful to you when it comes to healing the pain of your daughter’s death losing your hearing.

They live on Planet Earth. You live on Planet My Baby Died My Hearing Died.

It seems to me that you feel like you’re all alone there. You aren’t. There are women people with hearing loss reading this right now who have tears in their eyes. You need to find those women people, darling. They’re your tribe.

I know because I’ve lived on a few planets that aren’t Planet Earth myself.

The healing power of even the most microscopic exchange with someone who knows in a flash precisely what you’re talking about because she they experienced that thing too cannot be over-estimated. Call Contact your local hospitals and birth Deaf Hard of Hearing Service centers and inquire about support groups for people who’ve lost babies at or before or shortly after birth their hearing. Find online communities where you can have conversations with people during which you don’t have to pretend a thing.”

The SayWhatClub has become my tribe, and five years later I’m still here. Why? Because hearing loss is an ongoing challenge for which I will always need support from someone else who knows in a flash precisely what I’m talking about and going through. Plus, I get so much satisfaction from paying it forward. Though, if I’m honest, I admit to sometimes getting tired of talking about hearing loss. I get a bit worn out by sharing my story over and over, and there are times when I wonder if anything I’m contributing is making any difference to anyone who is reading?

But then one day someone relatively new to the forum emails you to tell you that the way in which you replied to their query made them move further toward finding out what works for them in their hearing loss journey, and that “…you are a clear spot in the forest…” You feel a renewed sense of purpose and find the energy to type the words one more time.

That happened just a few months ago when a new subscriber wrote to my home list to thank everyone for the warm welcome and to express how glad they were to have joined SayWhatClub… happy to be learning things to help them deal with their own hearing loss.

“I love that I’m already learning! …It’s nice to know there are others who understand. I don’t know any people in real life that have hearing trouble.

I am not yet good about starting out by telling people I have trouble hearing them. It’s not that I’m ashamed of it, but I’m just painfully shy in general. I guess I’ll just have to get over that if I want to communicate. At a restaurant this weekend, I ordered a grilled sourdough sandwich. The server said something, I asked her to repeat, I heard “sourdough…white or wheat?” and thought “Neat, whole wheat sourdough.” When I took a bite, I told my husband I was fairly certain that it was plain toast. He said, “Didn’t you hear her say they were all out of sourdough?” I don’t want to go through life getting plain toast.”

Thank you, Tracy, for that jewel!

If you don’t want to go through life getting plain toast, SayWhatClub might just be the tribe for you.

An Interview With Lip Reading Mom

In Deafness, Hard of hearing culture, Hearing Loss, late deafened on April 10, 2013 at 7:57 pm

lipreadingmom

The SayWhatClub conducted an interview with Shanna Groves, author of two books on hearing loss. She was diagnosed with progressive hearing loss after the birth of her first child at 27 years old. In the years since, she and her husband added two more children who provide creative fodder for writing. Her books include Lip Reader and the just-released Confessions of a Lip Reading Mom. The philosophy, “One person can make a difference; it takes many people to make the difference permanent,” inspired her blog, LipreadingMom.com, which advocates for hearing loss awareness. Her pet projects are: The Lipreading Mom Captions Campaign, Show Me Your Ears, and Stop Hearing Loss Bullying. She speaks and teaches classes on hearing health, lip reading, and creative writing to people of all ages.

SWC: Can you give us a little background and how you became interested in writing?
My first foray into writing was in middle school when I joined the yearbook staff. One day while laying out a yearbook page, I learned that I had won the Outstanding English Student Award for my school. A gigantic trophy and tons of writing confidence followed. I grew up in Oklahoma and Texas and developed quite a memory for people I had met and places seen. All those memories came in handy years later when I put a magazine editing career on hold to become an aspiring novelist. It was a good thing I knew how to write because it helped channel my feelings about living with progressive hearing loss into words for others to read.

SWC: What lead you to write Confessions of a Lip Reading Mom?
Biographies and memoirs are my favorite genre of books, and I wanted to write one for years. A writing instructor once asked what was so special about my life that it warranted a book. It took eight years for my life story to materialize into Confessions of a Lip Reading Mom. I had to live life, not just write about it, in order to have a story worth telling. My book is about living with hearing loss while taking care of children, living with depression, and trying to make sense out of a progressive health issue. Writing this book was my therapy. Each chapter invites the reader on roller-coaster experiences that may surprise, educate, and inspire them.

confessions-cover

SWC: Tell us about getting your mind in a creative mode. How do you begin your writing process?
The library is my writing muse. I go there once a week to browse the shelves for new and old books, and I check out a stack of them to read almost simultaneously until one grabs my interest—then I read that one to completion. That is how I discovered Maya Angelou’s work and the life-changing power of her creative nonfiction and memoirs. I journal and blog about what I’ve read, and other writers’ stories inspire my own words to flow onto the page. My goal when writing a book is to park myself in front of the computer to write a minimum of 20 minutes a day, five days a week. I don’t edit what I write, nor do I read the previous day’s writing, until the entire book is complete.

SWC: Many writers utilize a writing group. Where do you get constructive critiques and feedback?
When writing my first book, Lip Reader, I posted each chapter to a private blog read by a small group of writers who offered feedback and helpful suggestions. For Confessions of a Lip Reading Mom, I worked with another writer, who helped me polish each chapter before submitting to the publisher. Mostly, I’ve found writing a book to be a solitary experience.

SWC: What is Confessions of a Lip Reading Mom about?
In 2001, I became a new mom to a healthy seven-pound boy. While on maternity leave, I noticed a persistent ringing sound inside my ears and went to a doctor. The diagnosis: progressive hearing loss in both ears; cause unknown. My book spans the first six years of my life as a hard of hearing mom. How could I take care of my babies if I couldn’t hear their cries from the other room? Would I become completely deaf and, if so, how would I communicate with my children? The doorbell’s chime, the phone ringing, and my toddler’s first words were silent to my ears. After two years of denial, I began wearing hearing aids—but I didn’t like them at first. They magnified the sounds I didn’t want to hear—temper tantrums! Eventually, I learned to navigate the uncertain waters of hearing loss with my sanity and humor barely intact. I became an online hearing loss community advocate, known as Lipreading Mom. This wasn’t my lifelong plan in the beginning, but it is something I have come to embrace now. Besides being a wife and mom, I believe my purpose on earth is to tell this story.

SWC: What was the hardest thing about writing the book?
While writing, I had to make sure that the book didn’t take up too much of my time or concentration. My children and husband needed me. Oftentimes, I had to force myself away from the computer to do the afternoon school carpool or start dinner. I experienced guilt if I wasn’t writing and guilt when I wasn’t there for my family. As moms, I’ve learned we are tougher on ourselves than anyone—and I’m still working on this whole mom guilt thing.

SWC: Now that Confessions of a Lip Reading Mom is out in bookstores, do you have any projects you’re currently working on?
I am developing a series of lesson plans on lip reading for people with hearing loss. My goal is to combine the book and blog writing with creating meaningful teaching materials to help others with hearing loss. Eventually, I would like to also develop video lesson plans to teach lip reading online and by DVD.

SWC: When you’re not writing, what do you enjoy doing?
My older kids and I are antique and flea market store enthusiasts. We like to find treasures at bargain prices. My oldest boy and I have chatted about opening our own antique store booth some day, but that’s a far-off dream!

SWC: Where can readers find your book?
Confessions of a Lip Reading Mom is available on Amazon and Amazon Kindle, as well as at CrossRiverMedia.com.

SWC: Anything else you would like to add?
Three hearing loss awareness projects I am excited about are:

  • Show Me Your Ears: This is my online photo gallery of people who wear cochlear implants and hearing aids, children with hearing loss, and even a few animal ears! The goal is to make hearing loss awareness a fun and visual experience. To date, there are more than 200 ‘ears’ on display at LipreadingMom.com/Show-Me-Your-Ears.

showmeyourears

  • Lipreading Mom Captions Campaign: I have partnered with the Collaboration for Communication Access via Captioning (CCAC) to develop an email campaign to encourage networks and websites to caption 100-percent of their online videos so that people who are deaf or hard of hearing have full access to them. Visit the campaign page at LipreadingMom.com/Lipreading-Mom-Captions-Campaign.

 

  • Stop Hearing Loss Bullying: As a person with hearing loss, I have experienced teasing, name calling, and outright bullying—and I am not alone. In schools, communities, and the workplace, people with hearing loss may experience ridiculing and prejudice because of their hearing ability. This campaign has an online petition and is working on a series of videos to heighten awareness that people who can’t hear deserve respect and that hearing loss bullying is wrong. Learn more at LipreadingMom.com/Stop-Hearing-Loss-Bullying.

bullying

 

AUTHOR: Shanna Groves

BOOK TITLE: Confessions of a Lip Reading Mom

BLOG ADDRESS: http://LipreadingMom.com

WEB ADDRESS: www.ShannaGroves.com

FACEBOOK ADDRESS: www.Facebook.com/AuthorShannaGroves

TWITTER ADDRESS: www.Twitter.com/LipreadingMom

EMAIL: sgrovesuss@msn.com 

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