When I started losing my hearing at the age of thirty, I was really embarrassed about it and I didn’t want people to know I was going deaf. It felt like a failing and I took the news that I needed a hearing aid pretty hard.
I did not want to accept the diagnosis of otosclerosis. I’d read that it was hereditary and painless and I was having a lot of pain and didn’t know anyone in my family who’d had this condition (although my Grandmother who died when I was five did have deafness of some sort but my Dad and Aunt don’t know the cause). Most of all, I just didn’t want to accept that I was going deaf.
When I joined a lipreading class, the tutor taught us about positioning strategies — always make sure people are on your ‘good side’. This was invaluable advice.
For years, I coped with lipreading and positioning strategies. Even when I started with mild hearing loss in my good ear, I still managed OK. I wore a hearing aid in my better ear and always made sure that people walked on my ‘good side’. I arrived early for meetings to make sure I could position myself in the ‘best’ seat (back to the window, on a corner so the majority of people were on my good side). It was a strategy that paid dividends but it was hard work and involved constant thought and planning. And never more so than when planning our wedding.
Via an internet search, we had found a venue we liked which had a webcam, and we thought this would be a lovely way of including friends in Canada, America and Australia in our big day – as well as family, friends and colleagues who wouldn’t be joining us for the intimate ceremony in Gretna Green.
Before deciding on the venue, we watched a few of the ceremonies online. They didn’t have sound on the broadcasts, just pictures. Some couples faced the camera and some were more traditional, facing the Registrar (thereby having their backs to the guests and the camera). We wanted to face the camera but this would have meant the groom being on my deaf side, and I really wanted to hear him say his vows. I also needed to be able to hear the registrar.
We went to the venue and met with the team there. We explained that I was deaf in one ear and that we needed to stand on the opposite side of one another to what tradition dictates. The wedding planner there did not seem keen on this and so a compromise was found: we would face one another and have the celebrant on my good side. The registrar would have her back to the guests and camera, and we’d be ‘side on’ to them. This forward-planning took away my fears of missing my cue, and I knew I’d be able to hear both the vows I needed to repeat and the vows my Groom was making. All I needed then was to choose a dress!
The day of the wedding dawned bright and sunny and other than a mix-up with the bouquet, the wedding went through without a hitch.
I’d love to hear about your strategies for coping with single-sided deafness. Please post a comment on the blog or add a message on Facebook.