A Hearing Loss & Late Deafened Blog

Relearning Life by Michele Linder

In Cochlear Implants, Deafness, Hearing aids, Hearing Loss on August 29, 2008 at 10:26 am

Have you seen the becomeanex.org commercials that focus on relearning life without cigarettes?  The subjects of these commercials are going through their daily routines, but seem to be having trouble with even the most simple of tasks because of not physically having a cigarette in their hand.  I know you have seen them:

  • A woman stumbles to her car, fumbling to unlock the rear passenger door; she climbs in the backseat; climbs over the backseat to the driver’s seat, all the while looking completely confused.
  • A man making breakfast, cracks an egg over a hot burner minus the frying pan.
  • A man in a diner, clueless as to how to drink his cup of coffee.

Most people don’t consider that when you live life with a cigarette in your hand, physically giving up cigarettes can leave you debilitated.

Let’s apply that to losing your hearing…  As with all things that we tend to take for granted until they are gone, a person who has all of their hearing doesn’t think much about the areas of life where they use this keen sense, other than the obvious.  But take away someone’s ability to hear and they will find that hearing plays a part in areas they never considered.  Maybe someone should make a commercial for those relearning life without the benefit of hearing?  The following scenarios are a few possibilities based on my own personal life challenges:

  • A woman drives her 5-speed, roughly shifting gears.  She no longer can hear the sound one unconsciously listens for that indicates when to shift, as road noise drowns out all other sound.  Her lone passenger gives her that “Drive much?” look as she shifts out of sync, while simultaneously cinching his seat belt tighter, fearful for his safety.
  • A woman brushes her teeth as part of her morning routine.  She returns to the bathroom later in the day to find the water has been running all day long, as she no longer can hear the sound of water running, an unconscious reminder to turn off the faucet.
  • A woman enters a busy office building and pushes the button for the elevators located on either side of the lobby.  If she has any chance at all to catch an open elevator, she must stand at a distance in order to see all of the elevator lights (hopefully the lights contain arrows so she can see if an elevator is going up or down.  If not, she most likely will ride in the wrong direction a time or two and receive stares from other passengers wondering why, if she wanted to go down, did she get on an elevator going up?) and to watch for the elevator doors to open, as she can not hear the bell or the opening of the doors.  God forbid that the lights are burnt out or not functioning.  She could be standing there for days.  (I’ve learned to take the stairs to avoid the stares.  LOL)

This list could go on and on, but you get the idea!!  Really though, the two points–relearning life without cigarettes and relearning life without hearing–are not comparable, as you can make the choice to give up cigarettes, but one can never choose to hear as they once did, not even with hearing aids or cochlear implants.  Believe me, if choice were an option no one would suffer hearing loss.  However, relearning life is necessary whether you are giving up cigarettes or dealing with hearing loss.  What is sad to note is that there is more help out there for someone giving up smoking than there is help for someone coping with hearing loss.

Another thought…  with all the mindless, pointless reality shows that do nothing more than to afford a “fly on the wall” view into a celebrated life where the challenges faced seem a tad superficial–though there are a few reality shows I like, “Project Runway” is one.  This show at least highlights the creative process, though even here there seems to be an element of manufactured drama–why not have a “real” reality show that teaches something, highlights what it is like to be Deaf/deaf/Hard of Hearing?  Believe me, that would be entertainment in it’s purest form!!!  No need to manufacture any of the drama, as it all happens naturally.

Such a show might be similar to “Little People, Big World” (a TLC series showcasing the Roloff family, composed of both little and average-sized members) in that it would educate the public about others who are considered “different”.  Of course, as with any reality show, the episodes would be expected to generate viewer interest, but even the most mundane situations told from the perspective of someone who cannot hear can prove dramatic.

If there are any big time TV producers out there reading this, please feel free to steal my idea.  Not only would a reality show about Deaf/deaf/Hard of Hearing people be dramatic, it would serve to help the vast TV watching public become aware of the challenges facing those of us who have lost some or all of our hearing.  For if we, as hard of hearing and deaf individuals, are not clued into all the ways hearing enhances our own lives until we begin to lose our hearing, how much more so for those who have not experienced any loss at all?

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  1. great post michele. have to laugh about the reality shows. could u imagine hearing people turning on the t.v. one nite to a show and not getting any sound or captions for that matter? they would just freak out. they would call time warner, or whatever their cable connection was, thinking its a technical problem. Only to find out, that its a new reality show….To hear or not to hear?
    thanks for sharing Michele,

  2. Michele,
    I loved this post! Your description of waiting for an elevator made me laugh out loud. Only last Monday I had an appointment with my neurologist in Seattle. I have to ride the elevator twice to get to his office. I can’t hear the ding so I’m spinning in circles looking in both directions hoping I won’t miss the one going ‘up’ I must look crazy to passers by.

  3. I am laughing with you both, Pearl and Kim. LOL Elevators are especially challenging for me. I can’t tell you how many times I get in the elevator and feel I have to explain to my fellow riders that not hearing makes actually getting on an elevator a challenge. I have missed elevators, had people trying to be polite miss elevators with me, rode in the wrong direction, and missed my stop more than once. And the times I find I am the unlucky one standing by the buttons with everyone telling me which floor they need!!! Yikes!!! I see that button panel and head to the opposite corner!!! LOL That is if I am lucky enough to get on at all. LOL

    Michele

  4. I am another one of the elevator persons. I would spin enough to qualify for exercise for the day. One of the first sounds I hear after my activation for CIs was the beep of the elevator coming up and the beeping on each individual floor. I remember jumping up and down yelling I heard that. Then I turned to my hubby and said, “how long has that sound been there?” I had never heard it before.

  5. Here’s another aspect of the elevator situation. I’ve been in some large buildings where there are several elevators across from each other at quite a distance.

    You press the button for service and then back away far enough to see all the elevator doors in front of you.

    In the meantime a elevator behind you has landed and opened its door.. but you don’t know that because of your hearing, or in this case lack there of. Out of the corner of your eye you see movement of its exiting passenger, which makes you turn.

    Turning you rush toward the now closing door but don’t quite make it as the car now goes on its merry way to a different floor.

    Turning back around into your original “elevator door looking position”, you now see the farthest away of those elevators (that’s against the opposite wall), with its doors wide open.. but only for a second or two.

    “Why even try” you say to yourself, because you know from previous experience that by the time you get there the doors will have closed.

    You right Kim. The only way to beat the system is to spin around and around. The only problem is your reaction to this results in the age old game you played as a kid, ie: “Let’s spin around and see what happens”, as you then stagger off toward a open door looking like a drunk who’s had one too many.

    Yep.. know what ya mean. Been there, done that. The only problem is at least a drunk gets some enjoyment out of drinking.. while all I get from all that spinning is a headache! (LOL)

    Shi-Ku Chishiki ShiKu.Chishiki@Gmail.com

  6. Shi-Ku Chishiki,

    You’ve given an even more detailed account of my experiences with elevators. LOL I worked on the 8th floor of my building, and I often just took the stairs. LOL The side benefit is that I lost some weight. However, I don’t recommend hearing loss and avoidance of elevators as a weight loss method. LOL

    Michele

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