Tuesday 11 August 2009

A hearing guide for Ma

I’m writing this morning’s post from Pinktop, on the train home from The Rents. I had a fabulous long weekend with them, and it’s also nice to know that I’m beginning my working week one step closer to the weekend.

One thing I noticed this weekend is how my lovely Ma is still struggling to adapt to not hearing so well. All the tips and tricks I’ve learnt over the years that now come so naturally to me are alien to her, and she quite often finds herself wondering if she’s got arrangements right, confused about who’s meeting who when, and struggling on the phone to follow what’s going on. She also forgets that she can speak up about these things and people will be happy to help.

It got me thinking that perhaps she needs a crash course in how to sneakily deal with her hearing loss so other people effortlessly help her – not because being deaf is a bad thing, but because sometimes this really is the only way to get by.

In my own personal experience telling someone you are deaf is a bad plan. I don’t sound that deaf, I don’t wear hearing aids, so they often think I’m a teller of porkie pies and continue at 50 words apace, which means I still have no clue what they are saying.

So then I try the words, ‘I’m hard of hearing’, which often do work actually. The people nod at me and smile, and then instead of slowing down the sentence they were saying, they get distracted and start asking me how I can be hard of hearing but still have good speech, and very occasionally they try and test my lipreading skills.

Of course, I take it all on the chin, I’ve had 19 years of practice and not all of it’s been very fun. But this is all new to my Ma. She forgets that she’s hard of hearing, so by the time she’s remembered to tell the person she’s struggling with, she’s so flustered that the whole episode has convinced her that being a hermit would be a good idea.

So, I was thinking, that maybe we could all help my Ma and somehow turn this post, with comments, into a sort of handbook, where she could get tips and cheats to help her so that, with a bit of practice, telling people what she needs will soon become second nature.

When an arrangement went wrong on Saturday, perhaps due to her not hearing on the phone, I suggested always following a phone call up with a text message to verify what was going on, or, if the person was happy, to do the whole thing by text message.

I also suggested that she try out different ways of telling people she couldn’t hear, so that she had a sentence that tripped off the tongue whenever a situation was stressing her out. It was Fab Friend Who Actually Wears Her Hearing Aids who gave me that tip. She’s incredibly assertive outwardly when asking people to acknowledge her deafness, and gave me a staple collection of sentences to choose from, which I have now passed on to my Ma.

But this is where my mind goes blank and I run out of tips, which is why I’m asking you guys for help. Tonight I am seeing Fab Friend for dinner so I will ask her for more then. But Speak Up Librarian, if you have any advice for my Ma, please post it here, and Kate of the fab blog, Kate's Cochlear Implant, what are your coping mechanisms?

And, it would seem that it’s never too late for me to learn a thing or two, either as I’ve just discovered this instant. A man is sat beside me in the train carriage and he just asked me something. I had no idea what it was, and presumed he was asking me if I knew something, so I fudged an answer of, ‘No,sorry.’ He looked a bit alarmed, as did a few of my travelling companions.

I sat there for a while, rolling the sounds of the sentence that he had just said to me around in my head, piecing the syllables together until I finally worked out what he’d said, which was, ‘Is this train going to London?’


Whoops! Right now, my cheeks are scarlet and I’m hiding behind Pinktop in embarrassment, which is kind of hard, as it’s kind of small.

I feel as though everyone thinks I’m the crazy lady on the train to London who doesn’t know where she’s going.

Help! How do I get myself out of that one?!


SpeakUp Librarian said...

Hi DG, I'd be glad to help your Ma any way I could. She might be interested in these posts and their comments:

I would also recommend these 3 books: Missed Connections, When the Hearing Gets Hard, and Coping With Hearing Loss. They're featured on the bookshelf on my blog and she can find out more about them by clicking on their pictures.
Your support will help a lot I'm sure.
All the best, Sarah

spratton said...

Thanks SpeakUp Librarian, i will check them all out when the visitors have gone.

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