Sometimes I'm tempted to start my own clothing line, just for me. It would be T-shirts that I wear whenever I'm out in public. They would say things like "I'm hard of hearing, please don't be offended if I don't hear you calling me from across the room." " Speak up. I can't hear you. No, Speak WAY up" "I'm not ignoring you, I just can't hear you"
This has been a life-long difficulty for me. People have found me rude, stuck up, or arrogant because I was 'ignoring' them---when in reality, I just didn't hear them saying my name in a room full of noisy people.
I used to be pretty ashamed about my hearing loss, trying not to let people know. But, since I've married Joel, I've finally discovered that life is just a whole lot easier when people KNOW you don't hear well. I now try to tell people as soon as I meet them about my hearing issues, so they know right off.
However, I must be slacking because a lady in church today told me she was 'so relieved when someone told me about your hearing loss---I thought you were ignoring me a couple times!" I thought most people in church knew---apparently not.
*sigh* I'm not a rude person, really, my ears just don't work right!
So, in an effort to help you all be more ''hearing impaired aware" (kind of like 'cancer awareness month', or something), I'm going to do a little Q and A session here with myself to answer questions that I know so many of you have.
1. How long have you been hearing impaired? Well, we're not 100% certain, but we're pretty sure it's been since I was a little girl.
2. What happened to your hearing? I was probably just born this way---something didn't 'form' right in my ear. I didn't listen to loud music or get ear infections or take drugs or anything like that. I was just born this way.
3. Do your kids have hearing loss? No, my hearing loss is not a genetic thing. All my kids have tested with perfect hearing, thank you Jesus!
4. Do you read lips? Not primarily. If I can't hear you talking, then I don't know what you're saying. But if I can hear your voice too, then watching your mouth helps me to 'catch' more of what you're saying. So don't be offended if I watch your mouth when we're talking instead of your eyes.
5. Did you have a cochlear implant? No, although I'm asked this a lot. My hearing loss is not severe enough for that. I simply wear good digital hearing aids.
6. Will you be offended if I speak loudly? NO, No, No, No!! PLEASE, speak up! Move your lips when you talk! Look at me instead of the ground! And please, don't do what my kids do and try whispering to me in church or another public area---it will simply sound like gibber-gabbish in my ear.
A few other thoughts
1. Hearing loss is not as uncommon as you may think. Doctors are finding out now that more babies are born with hearing impairment than they originally thought.
2. Hearing Loss is no different than needing eye glasses. It just so happens that people who have hearing loss are more noticeable to the population in general because it effects conversations and such. I still have my brain perfectly intact---I'm not stupid, just hard of hearing---so please, don't whisper about me or about anything in front of me. Just because I can't hear you doesn't mean that I won't realize you're whispering about something!
3. If we're in a room full of people and you notice that I've answered a question wrong because of not hearing it properly, please feel free to correct me or inform the other person---I really don't want to eat something gross at a restaurant because I ordered wrong ;)
4. And finally, please be patient with me. I KNOW it's hard to talk to me sometimes, especially in a noisy place, but I'm honestly doing my best. I have no desire to be shut out of life because everybody's too timid or annoyed to talk to me.
We ALL have problems---whether they're health issues, relational issues, emotional issues, etc---we're all human and we ALL need Jesus! Learning to be 'okay' with who I am, hearing loss and all, has helped me to move forward in life and conquer this difficulty as best as I can. I will try to be patient, loving and helpful in whatever you are going through, and I'm thankful for the people who are understanding of my hearing issues as well :)