Hear, Hear

Momentous events are occurring round pollygoshville; for starters I have my fringe back which is a bigger deal than you might think. Hair takes a gosh darn long time to grow and in ways I can’t fully form the words around yet, it has impacted on how I’ve viewed myself.

For ages now, I’ve known to the outside eye you’d probably never guess what I was doing 2 years ago. I am thankful that I look well, even though it makes the inside wounds harder to spot.

It’s not about looking unwell or well anymore, it’s a matter of looking like me. It really doesn’t matter if I look like me to you or if you think my hair is cool or even that it suits me better short. In fact, I get a little irritated with the compliments because those things are besides the point – it wasn’t my choice, it just was what it was.

Imagine being forced to wear your least favourite colour all day, everyday, doesn’t matter if the cut is impeccable or the style is very ‘now’, you didn’t choose it and choice in life is everything. Shallow? probably. Human? Hell, yes.

Does it make sense to say that it’s taken until I’ve got my fringe back to be able to understand how unlike myself I’ve been feeling? Well, it’s back now and it’s another baby step into feeling more in control again.

Another step towards control is, I’m getting a hearing aid. When the possibility of such a thing was raised the first time, I was thirteen, had braces, and didn’t want another thing to make me feel awkward or different. This time around I’m trying to embrace it.

So yeah, I’m deaf, I’m deaf in my left ear, not profoundly deaf – I’m in the moderate to severe camp (woo)

I don’t talk about it. Mainly because I like to think it doesn’t effect me much (it does) and also because in the last 36 years I’ve yet to find a cool way to bring it up.

If you don’t do it soon after meeting someone and (for some dumb reason) I always think that’s a strange thing to do, talking about it later is even more awkward. I get a little stuck because I sometimes forget and as I can normally think of about 200 more interesting things to talk about it often goes unsaid.

Plus what with the cancer thing, I sometimes feel like a properly faulty toy and that, for what ever reason embarrasses me. So much so, that I’ll do pretty much anything not to tell people about it.

So if you know me and have ever wondered why I sometimes just smile and laugh when you’re telling me something profound – it’s because at least 100 times a day I mishear or don’t hear something and I’ve misevaluated your facial expressions. Sorry about that.

I’ve got ways of coping, I’ll just walk on the right side of the street, pick the quieter restaurant, I will stay quiet in conversations until I’ve figured out the bits I’ve missed. Lately though these mechanisms have been feeling kinda limiting.

So, I’m getting fitted for a hearing aid. I’m fed up of being limited, of feeling frustrated or making people cry when they’ve told me their pet has died and I heard something completely other, something possibly incredibly rude. Plus I saw Finding Dory recently and it brought home the fact that I should probably not feel so apologetic to be different.

Here are some weird facts about being deaf:

1) My parents found out I was deaf when everyone got tested in school and my lipreading ability was pretty darn impressive. I still rely on lip reading; it’s an incredibly useful skill when watching awards ceremonies, sporting events, when trying to figure out how a meeting is going at work or when you are at the same party as your arch nemesis (not that I have one obvs).

2) Round tables are not my friend. I like to stick myself in a corner. If I’m out with you and you feel your being moved about like a sheep dog herds sheep, it’s because I’m working really hard not telling you I’m deaf.

3) I hate pubs, I’m a more sociable person than I feel I am able to be in a pub. It’s unlikely that I’ll choose to socialise in a pub, I’m not that fond of parties either. I feel a lot more stupid than I actually am in these environments, like I’m a smiley, vapid person with no actual views on anything. When really I’m just having a hard time hearing everything.

4) There’s a small percentage of people who think it’s hilarious to answer “what?” when I tell them I’m deaf. To that small percent, I say this; while I might laugh a long when you do it, I am secretly judging you as being an insensitive douche. It takes courage to admit a failing and as I’ve said, I don’t do so easily. Don’t be a dick about it. It’s also not an original joke, if you think it is, you really are deluding yourself. Plus just because I’m not profoundly deaf, doesn’t give you permission to laugh at a disability. Unless you are the type of knob who kicks people’s crutches away or trips-up the visually impaired – either way I’m judging you, unfavourably.

5) It gets more difficult for me to hear when I’m tired. I have to work harder than ever to understand, and if I’m tired I’m more likely to take a punt and answer the question I think you asked, so hilarity can ensue.