Greeting from wet and wild Cornwall. As we arrived and began to pitch camp the rain started. Doesn’t bother us seasoned campers.
On the way down we stopped at Morrisons, Bridport, for breakfast (living the high life). Couple of chaps came at sat at the next table and proceeded to converse in BSL, I leant over and said to watch out as Sue is a signing ‘eavesdropper’, which got the laughs I’d hoped for.
Sue and the guys signed for ages and I joined in, occasionally, with my limited vocabulary. What are the odds of the four of us being in the same place, at the same time? Really pleased we were.
Why am I pleased? Because it was inclusive, because BSL was the main language and I was the one left (slightly) out for a change.
Reason I go on so often about Sue being included, me managing to converse (limited, I admit, but hopefully improving) and things in general improving, is because I’d hope it might provide some reassurance to those starting out with hearing loss – whether that is with a family member or themselves.
That sounds incredibly patronising, I promise you that’s not my intention, just ‘speaking’ honestly and plainly. I’ve said this a few times, sorry, but when Sue began to lose her hearing I felt panicked about how we would go forward. Never doubted that we would be okay, just anxious about Sue losing out – missing out – being left out. Talking with people can still be a major problem for her, especially with strangers. I’m sure that’s got to be the standard, particularly as strangers don’t know Sue is deaf – bit of a chicken and egg syndrome as someone can’t make an effort until they know they need to.
What I’m trying to get across is don’t give up to despair, please focus on going forward and not stalling. The diagnosis from doctors and specialists can be terrifying and it’s usually (in our experience) the Hearing Therapists and other ‘caring’ professionals who give hope and encouragement. Unfortunately, waiting times between diagnosis and meeting the caring professionals can leave individuals and families in a terrifying limbo where “how will I (we) cope?” “what will life be like?” are thoughts that circle like sharks. Negative, but obvious, concerns at a time when negativity is building out of control.
Go online, make contact with those who know and can provide some positive assurance. Hearing Link is a perfect example. In my experience the worst thing to do is bottle it up and hide in a hole. It may be the most natural thing to do, but (as a partner) it doesn’t help. Try and be supportive, look for advice and join in. Going to hospital appointments with a HoH partner or family member will boost confidence and provide opportunities to learn. Lipreading classes may be hard to find, but I joined with Sue and found it extremely beneficial to see how others cope and what makes their lives easier. If nothing else, learn from their mistakes.
We are nothing special, yet we have overcome the many down times. I don’t want to offend anyone with this closing comment – I doubt anyone is happy to lose hearing, but it isn’t the end of life, just a change that can, in time, with patience, stop being a barrier to happiness. Be supportive, learn and remember that encouraging smiles and (in our relationship at least) a hug now and then goes a long way.
P.S. But don’t walk up behind someone that can’t hear and suddenly hug them, the surprise element can be disastrous. Nearly broke my fingers!