Why Do People Not Understand Me?
It can be very frustrating for an individual who has a hearing loss when he/she can not understand what is being said because of not being able to hear as well. However, it can be even more frustrating when others who can hear just fine do not realize that you have a hearing loss as they may often become frustrated with you or annoyed by you. This is where it can become very frustrating for everyone. It can also become very taxing and affect many of us personally and emotionally. Although I do not suffer from a hearing loss myself, I grew up watching my dad struggle and now I am watching my youngest daughter be faced with the challenge of a hearing loss.
My dad’s hearing was fine until he experienced a traumatic incident at work where he lost his hearing in both ears. My dad was a construction foreman and one day, while on the job, there was an explosion on the “hot plant” (where they mix the pavement for pouring roads and highways) when he was working. As a result, this explosion left him with severley damaged hearing. Even though my dad became very good at reading lips, he still struggled trying to hear people and participate in conversations. Hearing aids for him, at the time, were more frustrating than they were worth. They were always beeping in his ears, loud sounds would make them squeal and he would rip them out of his ears. We even had a special flashing ringer for the phone so he could hear the phone ring better and see it, but he still struggled speaking even over the phone.
Most days trying to speak with my dad went like this: “What, say again?” “I’m sorry, I didn’t hear what you said.” “Can you say that again?” “I can’t hear you.” “Pardon, pardon, pardon.” Both he and I would become very frustrated in trying to speak with one another. Of course, at this time, I was also a teenager who thought I knew it all and had no time to listen to anything, not to mention taking extra time to wait and see if my dad even heard what I was trying to tell him for the tenth time. So, deep down I feel very sad and I do regret all of the arguing and yelling that went on in our house hold just because he couldn’t hear. It mainly affected our family negatively because my dad used to be able to hear in the first place and I think we never really got used to the idea that he couldn’t hear anymore. As they say, “you don’t know what you’ve got until its gone.” I now realize how difficult it must have been on my dad if it were this difficult on the rest of us. I often wonder if my dad had been born deaf, if maybe we would have been more understanding and tolerant. That was the frustrating part of it for all of us who knew him and lived with him because he just could not hear “anymore” and that alone drove most of us crazy. One funny story is that when my mom and dad would argue, my dad would say that my mom made him deaf because she talked so loud since she was from New Jersey. Either way, no one could understand what was going on.
So, Dad, I dedicate this section to you…because I now realize how we treated you and what you were going through.
For the woman who is badgered by the waiter in the restaurant because she simply can not hear what he is asking her or explaining to her, while at the same time the waiter is not realizing she is deaf or hard of hearing. To the man who inquires about what was just said over the intercom at the airport, asking the person he is speaking with three times to repeat what they are saying, only to have the person walk away in mid conversation because they have become too frustrated. To the child in the classroom who is falling behind because he/she is too embarrassed to ask the teacher to repeat what he/she just said because of not being able to hear everything. To the individual who has had to adjust their lifestyle and choose a new career path because they can no longer be the firefighter they used to be, etc… All of us need to realize that a hearing loss should never come between love and friendship or career choices and hobbies. Keep your chin up and get out of life what you want to get out of life. For the rest of us who can hear, we need to stop and take a moment to realize that we are hurting feelings here and making some individuals feel like they “bother” us just because they can not hear. Each one of us needs to be patient with one another and respect each others feelings and the situation that they are in. Thankfully, today, assisted hearing devices have come a long way. I hope for all of you who are deaf or hard of hearing that you at least try an assisted hearing device. It is an option that may be able to help you. Yes, it may take some time to get use to, but it may give you your life back and save a lot of frustration and emotional stress for family members, friends and yourself. I will always offer every option that can be available to my daughter if it will help her hear better. I will raise her to have patients for others and I will also have all the patients in the world for her.