Before we can talk about the cochlear implant surgery and device I want to share with all of you reading this what it means to be deaf for me.
Being deaf for me has been a struggle, I’ve never felt more isolated than with this disability ever. It isolated me from friends, family, colleagues, teachers and my peers at school. I could not hear the television, I could not actively participate in conversations and many many more everyday things. Something as simple as hearing a bird tweet in the morning, or the door knocking. The sound of my own voice. The many everyday sounds that everyone else around me takes for granted every single day. The birth of my children really intensified my fear of being deaf especially because I had the constant worry that I would not hear them cry, that if they made a choking sound I would not be able to realise in time. If they called out or simply just needed me I wouldn’t know any better. It means not being able to handle phone conversations for the last few years and struggling with that. I got married in 2018 and I didn’t hear the vows I lip read from the registrar In front of me, not that it took away from all the wonderful feelings of the occasion but it would have been nice to have heard more than just a few words. It means frustration at the world who does not understand that you haven’t heard the excuse of someone trying to pass you, or the person calling out your name. It’s the fear that you can’t hear the cars or motorcycles coming from behind you. It’s the desperation of someone talking so fast and you only getting some of what they’re saying therefore because you don’t want to put your foot in it you keep quiet. It’s not being able to watch movies without reading the subtitles, it’s reading the lyrics or feeling the vibrations of the song because you can’t hear the music.
It’s also a lot of relying on those around you. You rely on them for everything that you need to do. My children have adapted to my deafness and make me aware when there’s a knock on the door, or my phone is ringing. If someone is talking to me. They changed how they communicated with me and know that they must always face me so I can lip read, they were taught from a young age to talk and articulate properly as I needed this to be able to communicate with them. It’s not just my children who have had to adapt and change, my husband, my friends, my family, everyone that I meet I need to let them know ‘ hey here’s the deal I can’t hear you so need you to be patient with me’.
The Pandemic brought about a whole new range of struggles for me. MASKS! What a way to definitely isolate the deaf community, no more lip reading possible. What happened? I stopped communicating. I stopped going out, I stopped being the sociable bubbly person I’ve always been. Why? Because when I felt isolated and unable to communicate my migraines were the worst they’ve ever been, I cried so much my heart hurt and developed depression and anxiety about just being close to another human being. Having to keep telling people I was deaf and I couldn’t communicate with them through the masks was absolutely pointless, people had just lost all compassion and they looked at you as if you were completely crazy for insinuating that they should lower Their mask to talk to me, therefore I stopped trying.
I am a healthcare assistant. As you can imagine through the Pandemic the struggle was also very real at work where we had to use the correct PPE in order to not only protect ourselves but those most vulnerable. Hearing in effect with the hearing aid had been useless for some years by this Pandemic therefore and masks, visors ect to the mix that makes it impossible for this deaf person. So yet again the feeling of being useless and helpless made the depression and anxiety worse, isolating even more by needing to take medication just so I could stop crying and live somewhat of a life. I went off sick in October due to this and due to a lot of other factors that affected my ability to do my job in the best way possible.
As a final piece of information I urge those reading up until now to please be kind, please be compassionate and considerate to those struggling with deafness, because we are so isolated right now. We need all the support we can get and more love than ever. More understanding of deafness and how it affects people, training in every company should be done to be more accessible. People need to change Thier views on deaf people, we are not stupid we are not anything less than a human being wanting to be seen and heard by our community, wanting to be understood and helped in any way possible to make this extremely hard time just a bit easier. On another note please reach out to those not necessarily deaf but that are struggling, hug them just a little tighter, let them know you are there, do not give up on them.