I don’t need to lipread anymore. Or use captions in meetings or movies (I do still for TV for some reason). But I was in a couple of meetings today where I still found myself looking at the speaker or at the captions all the while telling myself I didn’t need to. It was especially interesting when the speaker was using ASL rather than voice and I was finding myself still trying to lipread him even when someone across the room was voicing his words.
I was asked back in February to join the Indiana Department of Health Advisory Committee for Early Hearing Detection and Intervention as a “deaf adult” representative. It really is interesting to me that as someone who lost their hearing as an adult and has no children, I actually have gained quite a bit of knowledge and understanding about this topic over the years. My knowledge is clearly only academic, but it is nice to be asked to participate on this committee. I also LOVE to talk about my hearing loss and my use of technology – I stayed for an hour after talking with a woman whose 5 year old has bilateral implants and uses the same processor I do. She had never met an adult with an implant before, so I was happy to give her any information I could to help.
Often, I will equate my time as a child with Crohn’s to that of a deaf child – it’s something that is isolating, unknown and not understood by your classmates, often requires time off of school for appointments, often requires special accommodations. I am always heartened when I hear stories such as one my manager told me the other day – her son has a classmate with an implant, so he is trying to learn about it and understand it and help the classmate out. It’s not quite as unknown or taboo as it once was to be the “deaf kid”. Although, unfortunately stories of bullying and flushing implant processors down the toilet and things like that still exist. My colleagues and I at Hear Indiana are working best we can to educate about hearing loss and hearing devices, but there is still a very long way to go.
Anyway, back to the point of this post – I suppose I should not expect 15 years of deaf person habits to just go away after 6 months because I can suddenly hear. It’s just more amusing to me than anything else. I still have a hard time believing how I used to survive in the hearing world prior to this. I was in line at the food truck at work last week, and the woman in front of me asked if I could tell her when they call her name because she doesn’t hear very well – I told her yes, and told her I also don’t hear very well (and it turned out the man behind us has a 2 year old daughter with bilateral implants). I told her my trick for what I would do at the food truck – pay close attention to who orders in front of you, because 90% of the time orders will be done in the order they were received. So when you see that person picking up their order, you go close to the window and assume the next one called is you – then you wait a second to see if anyone else goes to pick it up and if they don’t, you do. I don’t have to do that anymore either. Again, still do it though even when I KNOW it’s my name they called. Habit.
Just a quick update from my last post while I’m here – I ended up going back to my audiologist a week after my last programming because turning off electrode #13 was definitely important. The pitch compensation from the other electrodes just sounded off, especially with music. I couldn’t find the key of songs to sing along with them because the pitch I was hearing and the pitch I though it should be weren’t the same. So I went back and we turned it back on and everything is really good now. Still a little bit of the tin-can effect on my implant ear, but nothing like it was before I went in for my last mapping.