I’ve always seen subtitles as an aid to lipreading and lipreading as an aid to working out what I’m hearing and for that reason, I have both sound and captions on whilst watching television.
However, when I visited a friend who also has severe hearing loss, I noticed she opts for the captions only. I asked her why this was and she explained that because of her Meniere’s, audio from the television sounded distorted and made it impossible for her to watch. Continue reading “With or Without Sound?”
Anybody who asked me about biology six years ago would know my unwavering response: “I hate biology and can’t wait for it to be over!”
Biology started strong with top grades, but within a month they started declining — a consistent trend in my science classes between ages twelve and sixteen, due to an increase in class pace and my hearing loss worsening. The teacher would use strange words I could not inference and lecture while drawing on the blackboard. The strain to hear in such circumstances often ended in migraine headaches.
I thought junior year would be free from this trend, after my surgeon declared me “cured” with the success of my ninth surgery. When it turned out not to be, I blamed my poor performance on simply being stupid, until I realized that my teacher’s voice fell right within my worse frequencies. The migraines should have been a dead giveaway, considering they had a knack for arriving right in the middle of biology class. Denial and my fear of permanent disability kept me from admitting I could not hear, causing me to not get a hearing aid until after biology came to an end.
Fast forward to the year after I graduated from college; I opened an invitation to my high school reunion, initially thinking that I did not want to go. My mind changed, however, when I saw the one of the classes alumni would be able to visit: “Ms. Warren: Biology.” Continue reading “The Before and After of Biology Class”
Though I find myself favouring the expression “hearing loss” to talk about “hearing that’s not ‘normal'”, it always feels wrong for me.
You see, I haven’t lost my hearing: I just never had it. Well, the part that’s missing. Because there is a sizeable chunk that is there. Give me 60 dB in any frequency (down to 25 in my better ones) and I’ll happily hear.
As far as I can tell, I was born with “hearing like that”. I share my cookie-bite audiogramme with my brother and father, a typical situation of hereditary congenital “not hearing well-ness”.
Saying “hearing loss” makes it sound like at some point I lost my hearing. Like I have a “before” and an “after”, or that my hearing is deteriorating. That I have an awareness of what life with “more hearing” is like. But my “loss-less” story is very different from the stories of loss that others like Stu, Christina, Howard or Angie have been through. Continue reading “I Never Lost My Hearing”
Whenever I see a news report about a hotel fire, my blood runs cold. I have to travel regularly for work, with overnight stays, and I worry a lot about what would happen to me if there was a fire while I was asleep. (This is a fear which will be alleviated when I get a Hearing Dog but in the meantime, it’s a real concern of mine. It also drove me to found my business Access Solutions.)
Without my hearing aids — such as when in the shower or while sleeping — I wouldn’t be alerted by a standard fire alarm, so I need something which flashes (in the bathroom) and something which flashes/vibrates when I’m in bed.
Whenever I go to stay in a hotel, I always ask for a flashing/vibrating fire alarm and when they can’t provide one, I worry about what would happen if there was a fire. Would someone risk their life to come and get me?
When I give talks (to hearing people) about living with hearing loss, I often remark that when you’re diagnosed with hearing loss or when you’re fitted with a hearing aid, you’re not then taken to another room and shown all the assistive technology that’s available to you. (Well, not in my experience anyway!) Continue reading “Do You Fear Hotel Fires?”
Since becoming the editor of this blog, one thing I’ve struggled with is the diversity of “hearing loss” experiences we would like to reflect. This is parallel with all the questions related to the minefield of hearing-related terminology, which we’ve touched upon in a couple of past articles. I actually drafted another article on the topic after Christina wrote hers about reclaiming the term “hearing impaired” for herself. But it’s been sitting there because I didn’t feel I was managing to get it right. And because I’m very much afraid of saying the wrong thing on a loaded topic (as I am with this very post).
In what I’ll call the “hearing loss spectrum”, for lack of a better expression, there is a reasonably obvious distinction, the importance of which was recently brought to my attention on a couple of occasions. Not that I wasn’t aware of it before, but I’ve come to a deeper understanding of it — and of its relevance to the editorial line of Open Ears (part of my job here).
“Christina, how do you feel about Math and Science?”
My good friend, Ben, had asked me this question while I was freaking out about my then-boyfriend, Noah—a gorgeous, brilliant mechanical engineer who enjoyed springing questions about math and science on me without warning.
These questions, regardless of how good I felt, always made my heart race and waves of nausea hit me. Every time Noah would try to get me to guess answers to questions about the pressure that lifted planes, or a concept relates to calculus, I could not escape the feeling that I was being tested to see if I was “smart enough” to be his girlfriend.
Initially, I imagined I panicked at Noah’s questions because I believed, as a hearing-impaired artist with no money or college degree, that I was not good enough for someone like him. Ben, a therapist in-training, listened to my panic long enough to see that it had nothing to do with Noah. I knew Ben hit something much deeper when I could feel my whole body groan at the words “math and science.” Continue reading “Friends, Lovers, and Reclaiming STEM”
For some, that question may be considered intrusive and personal. But for most cochlear implant users, it is a great way to start a conversation with another implant user when you meet for the first time. And when the question comes from somebody who doesn’t have cochlear implants, it’s a great opportunity to show off your technology. Allow me to explain.
I grew up with normal hearing, and always enjoyed music and foreign languages, in addition to my career as an engineer and all the geeky interests that go along with it. I met my future bride while studying Japanese. We used to alternate days, taking turns speaking each other’s language.
Nine months after we were married, I was in the shower one morning, and slowly came to the realization that the water wasn’t making any noise. My analytical engineering brain kicked into action, trying to figure out what was wrong with the water. After exhausting all of the possible water problems, I realized that it was probably making its usual sounds, and that I wasn’t able to hear it.
I spent the next dozen years holding an FM microphone, which was connected to a really powerful hearing aid. This helped me read lips a little bit, but I could only use it for about an hour a day before becoming exhausted. Continue reading “Hearing After Hearing Aids”