M. Richard Horrell-Schmitz
“Huh?” “What’s that?” “Say again?” “I am hard of hearing, can you repeat yourself?” “Can you repeat yourself a little slower?” “Can you repeat yourself a little faster?” “No. Say it again at normal speed?” “I know I speak clearly but I don’t hear as clearly can you annunciate?” “Oh, forget it!”
Familiar? For those of us who ever tried to be hearing, maintain our hearingness, or imitate the hearing, it may as well have been printed on our business cards, because that’s what we sounded like. It’s a lot of work trying to hear when you can’t. It’s a lot of work trying to get people to understand who can’t. It’s a hard life of an LDA (Late Deafened Adult). Hearing aids are not comfortable. Some sounds are so soft you don’t even pick them up. Other sounds so loud you feel like your head may have just split in two.
What do you do when you find yourself suddenly staring down forty (or thirty or twenty)—with a life, a career, a family, a community of friends, and a sudden hearing loss?
a) Turn to the medical professionals who profit on your ongoing struggle to hear more, but never perfectly? Get an overpriced, under-functioning cybernetic attachment that both acts as a source of neverending attention-getting and birth-control (think hard about this one) all in one? Continue to say “huh?” “what?” etc?
b) Turn to people who, like you now are, are Deaf? People who do not profit financially on your “condition” but rather invest in you as a person? Learn about the ways the Deaf Community communicates, lives, supports one another, shares in common experiences?
c) Burry your head in the sand as you pray to be something you aren’t and miss out on your life?
Simply put, I am late to the party but still a respected and welcomed guest. If you are an LDA, like me, contact me! I can share with you the ways the Deaf Community has welcomed and helped me learn to be… a Deafer me! Believe it or not, there IS more to life than your hearing and there is a LOT to love about your new identity. Yes, it WILL take some adjustments. Yes it WILL be a struggle. And yes there WILL be times when you still struggle. But, speaking as someone who has been hearing, hard of hearing, and Deaf, it is MUCH easier to BE Deaf than to just NOT BE hearing anymore.
Read my other posts, we are here for you.
More to come…