A Hearing Loss & Late Deafened Blog

I’d rather be Hearing-impaired than Listening impaired

In Accommodations for Deaf on April 28, 2009 at 4:20 am

This morning I woke up coughing, again. My head, back and chest hurt. My throat was raw and swollen. I have been sick for over a week. With these latest warnings of a near swine flu pandemic, a doctor seemed like a good idea. The receptionist was able to squeeze me in with someone I hadn’t seen before. I could go right away.

The only problem was it I hadn’t seen this doctor before. Seeing a new doctor shouldn’t bother me. But I like MY doctor– the one who remembers to face me when speaking.

I have requested more than once that the clinic write “deaf ” on my chart. Trouble is they no longer use physical charts with paper. All my information is on a computer notebook that gets carried from room to room.

So once again, I told the receptionist I am deaf as I signed in. I actually had to tell her three times. First she talked to me with her head down. Next she said something while I was signing insurance forms. MY head was down that time. And finally, before slogging over to a chair in the waiting room, I reminded her a third time I couldn’t hear well.

“Please tell the nurse to tap me when she’s ready,” I ask.

“No problem.” she says.

Yeah. Right. I’ve only asked that a nurse tap me each and every doctor visit for the past five years. And the receptionist fails to relay this info — each and every time.  Or maybe she tells the nurses and every one of them ignores it — I’m not sure who is to blame. In any case, I sit and wait. After about ten minutes all the other patients have been called away. I am the only one left in the waiting room, when finally I look up from my magazine and watch as a nurse stands across the room to call my name. No tap. Luckily I looked up at just the right moment.

“I called you before, but you were reading your magazine,” she says. “Are your ears plugged up?”

“No. I’m very, very hard of hearing,” I explain.

“Is that from the cold?” she asks.

“No.”

“I need to ask you some questions,” she says. “blah–blah. blah, blah BLAH–”

I stop her mid-sentence. “I don’t hear well,” I say, “Can you look at me?” (The fifth time I’ve reminded someone I couldn’t hear today.)

“OH! Yes, well– Do you feel any soreness or pressure in your ears?”

“No.”

“Tell me about your symptoms.”

I tell her.

“Do you blahblah-”

“I didn’t get that. Can you take your hand away from your mouth.” (sixth time)

“Oh sorry,” She smiles. “Do you have a temperature?”

“I have had one off and on, but I didn’t take it this morning.”

“We’ll take it in a minute. How’s your blood pressure?” She starts to pump up the cuff. I am silent while she listens. “It’s blah-blah blah-blah blaah-blah-blah,” She’s looking away again.

“Sorry? I didn’t get that, I couldn’t see your lips.” (seventh time)

“OH! So sorry!” She smiles again, as she gets out her ear thermometer and goes for the ear.

“Wait,” I say. “I have to take out my hearing aid.”

“You wear hearing aids?” she asks with a confused look on her face.

“Yes, I’m deaf.” (un-frickin-believable!)

She takes the temp, then says doctor will be in shortly. I wait for the doctor.

___________________________________

“Hi! Blah-blah-blah-blah–”

“Nice to meet you. I’m very, very hard-of-hearing,” I interrupt. “I need to see your lips.” (ninth time)

“Oh!” she says. She’s got all on my info on the small laptop. She scans the screen, then asks,”How did you lose your hearing?”

I’ve explained my hearing loss to at least five different doctors at this clinic over the past twenty years. I go to a specialist, and I know he has sent his findings on several occasions. I know there’s info about my hearing loss somewhere in my real physical chart, wherever that is now. But OK– maybe it’s not her fault. She’s new. She’s busy. There must be someplace to flag a hearing issue in that laptop. I wonder if maybe there’s some weird glitch with their medical software that prevents them from entering or highlighting a hearing loss. I’m trying to give them the benefit of the doubt.

I tell the doctor my hearing loss history and notice she’s not typing anything into her laptop. (sigh)

So. I’m up on the examining table now. She feels my lymph nodes and mumbles.

“What?” I ask. “You turned away.” (tenth time!)

“Your lymph nodes are swollen.” She gets out her little otoscope. I know what’s going to happen next. It’s been a couple minutes. She’s concentrating on her diagnosis and has already forgotten about my hearing loss. I can see it in her face. I wait. Sure enough. She dives in with the otoscope. “OH!!” she exclaims.

“Do you need me to take out my hearing aids?” I ask. (eleventh time!) I take them out.

She says something. “I can’t hear you without my aids. . .Can you look at me?” (twelfth reminder!!)

“Do you hear pretty well with your hearing aids?” she asks. After that, I lose count. She babbles away about treatment. I have bronchitis. I need her to write some things down, cuz I’m just not getting it. Medical terms.

Do I hear pretty well with my hearing aids? You gotta laugh.

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  1. Just like Dr. House from the TV show. He’s an idiot for forcing cochlear implant for his own convenience. They’re the one that needs to be adapted to us. I now hate that show and removed it from my TiVo season pass.

  2. Hi

    Just had to write and thank you for cheering me up. I am a hearing mother of a profoundly deaf girl and I am having a hard time today. I seem to be feeling very negative about the hardships my daughter will face and it was very good to read your piece. Yes there are hardships and I wish that both of you did not have them but your humour made me smile. At least you can laugh. I hope I got that right. Get better soon.

  3. I doesn’t matter what profession they (hearing people) are in. Hearing people who have no connection or association with hearing loss or deafness are clueless. Worst, is that hearing people think if you’re wearing a hearing aid or implant, you have 20/20 hearing…..lol
    Kim, you’re just too kind, I would have told the nurse and doctor, what part of my not hearing well or my being deaf don’t u understand?
    Even doctors in the field can be clueless and insensitive. I once had an ENT doctor look in my ears and say, “I don’t see anything in your ear that would be causing u to have a hearing loss.” With that statement, I got up and walked out of his office. Clueless? I doubt it, stupidity, yes. I do not tolerate stupidity when it comes to my lack of hearing. There are alot of things I can laugh at, including my hearing loss,, but I don’t tolerate doctors lack of sensitivity.

    Angie, u need to teach your daughter to be confident, patient, to laugh at the people who are clueless and to join forces with those who are sensitive and understanding.

  4. I once went to a new audiologist. He told me how he will test both ears and to raise your hand when you hear the tone.. blah blah.. I told him I wanted to to the button instead, being a pro with knowing how these tests work. He said, “now we will test both ears”. I said, “you don’t have to test my left ear, I’m deaf in that ear”. He was like, “oh we’ll test it anyway”. So I end up dwindling my thumbs when he was testing that ear, no point in doing anything. Then the test is over, he comes back into the booth and announces in a very matter-of-fact tone, “you have a severe hearing loss”. I was like, “yeah, tell me something I don’t know?”

  5. How awful. Twelve reminders – sheesh. I didn’t know that’s what they meant when they called us patients.

  6. I’m amazed you didn’t lose your temper, and I have to commend you for not doing so.

  7. STW and Deaf Pundit,
    Ignorance about hearing loss doesn’t bother me anymore, except maybe with a specialist like that otologist. People just don’t know. They don’t get it. We can thank the media. “House” was a good example. Advertisements in magazines assure new breakthroughs and show happy people supposedly hearing well with their hearing aids.

  8. SpeakUp, Yes after a bit it just got to the point where I saw the humor in it. How many ways can you tell someone you don’t hear?

  9. Thanks Angie,
    I’m glad I could bring a smile to your face. I know my own mom worries about me, but truth be told Angie, I have a great life! 🙂 I have a good job, I’m happily married for thirty years and have raised a happy family. On the whole, I think the hearing loss prepared me for disappointments and such at an early age, so I learned to work through the hardships. You land back on your feet. I know you must love your daughter very much. Just teach her to love and respect herself they way she is, and everything else will fall into place.

  10. Char,
    Oh– They can be so arrogant! 🙂

  11. oh lordie lordie – been there done that got the t-shirt (again!!) People just don’t get it do they!!?

  12. Yhep!! One thing I do to ascertain people repeat themselves is, after I’ve stopped hearing them or totally gotten lost in the conversation, just stick a finger pointing to my ear and throw a pleading look (if they’re a friend and know me well enough) or, ask them to repeat themselves. Generally, I go by a 5 time rule. If I have to ask you to repeat yourself or clarify something more than 5 times in one conversation, it’s just not worth it, sorry. Some people just have to be reminded again and again. Then, of course, there’s my mom, who knows I’ve learned to lipread (a school survival habit) and if she wants to talk about me in front of me, will simply turn and cover her mouth. D:

  13. Great article.

    Last thing you needed when feeling ill!

  14. Bravo. Its about time someone said it as it is. Sometimes we are all made to feel like 2nd class citizens.

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