I don’t know if this is peculiar to where I live but here professionals tend to have a habit of talking about people’s experiences of hearing loss as a ‘journey’.
According to the Oxford dictionaries, a journey is ‘an act of travelling from one place to another’. To me, a ‘journey’ involves setting out with the aim of reaching a destination. But that does not fit with my experience of deafness. I didn’t choose a destination or route and I certainly didn’t buy a ticket.
If life’s a ‘journey’, then the destination is the coffin, is it not? In this metaphor, having hearing loss is not the journey itself — rather it’s a heavy and somewhat cumbersome piece of luggage which some of us have to carry around. Sometimes, there may be a luggage trolley (hearing aid or other device) to make things easier and on occasion, someone might carry the luggage for us (watching something with the subtitles), meaning someone else has done the hard work for us, but, for the majority of us with hearing loss, we’ll be ‘carrying it’ with us for life.
And that’s fine. Everyone has something, don’t they? High blood pressure or a bad back. But do their doctors refer to those people’s conditions as ‘blood pressure marathon’ or a ‘bad back ramble’?
In the same way the media likes the phrase ‘battle with cancer’, so health professionals like a ‘hearing loss journey’.
Perhaps the ‘hearing loss journey’ phrase came about because of professionals studying the Kübler-Ross ‘five stages of grief’ which is also referred to as a ‘journey’, but is that enough for the phrase ‘hearing loss journey’ to have caught on?
Or is it something to do with the whole ‘pathway of care’ way of thinking and speaking about patients? Pathways, journeys… us deafies are clearly going somewhere. Perhaps at some point the professionals will let us know where they think we’re heading: that way, we’ll know what to pack!
So, this is a plea to the professionals out there: becoming deafened isn’t a journey with a destination. We haven’t bought a ticket, so please don’t talk about ‘journeys’: we’re adjusting to living with a disability, not going on vacation.