My hearing deteriorated when I was in primary school. The most I remember from it is having an intensely painful ear infection and then soon enough being told by a doctor and audiologist I had lost hearing in my left ear. It seems like a massive blur to me now but I know I had to go through a lot of tests – blood, urine, CAT scan etc. Those tests where they stuck little pads to your chest to measure whatever. I was in juniors of primary school when most of these happened so I can’t remember them very well. But alas since then I have had hearing aids.
My first few hearing aids were always so glam. I always asked for ones where the mould had cutesy stuff on it because they could put stickers on the inside or make them glittery or coloured. Admittedly did and probably still would, perk you up about having to wear something in your ear to be able to hear like other kids. I do remember getting teased about it up until around year 8 where I started to avoid even mentioning it to teachers. I was ashamed of my own disability and didn’t want the special treatment teachers went about it. I didn’t like being moved to the front of class so I could hear, I cringed whenever the teacher double checked with me if I had heard everything and god forbid the monthly check the school doctor would do where they’d come and take me out of class to do these little tests to check my hearing and if there was any changes. Looking back I definitely shouldn’t have been ashamed of something I could not have controlled. I shouldn’t have believed something was wrong with me, when really, there was something morally wrong with the children that would get a kick out of teasing me about it. No, whispering rude sentences to me because you know I can’t hear it, asking me if I heard you, then giggling when I say no, isn’t funny at all. It’s anxiety-fuelling and a complete waste of both our times. Get on with your school work and stop being a tool.
Recently in the past few years I’ve finally overcome this embarrassment of my hearing impairment and try my best to bring it up to all people I spend time with on a regular basis. Mainly because A) I am a bit of a ditsy person and sometimes forget my hearing aid and B) Well, either way, it hardly makes it a good day when someone gets huffy and puffy with you when you say you couldn’t hear them or ask them to repeat themselves. However there’s still something in me that stems from, perhaps, the teasing as a child or comments I have gotten as an adult, that makes it rather difficult to bring it up unless asked.
Twice in my late teenage years I have had times where my problem has been dismissed as ‘over-reacting’ or ‘fake’. ‘Shut up about your hearing, you’re not even disabled’ or ‘Oh forget it. I’m not repeating it – you and your so called ‘deafness’. Those sentences stand clear to me in the back of my mind. Obviously because they were like stabs through the stomach from people who at those times were mature in age (well you should be mature at 17-19? Right?), and because they made me feel nervous about telling people about my hearing again.
However, being deaf, hearing loss and tinnitus effects more than 11 million people in the UK. That’s one in six of the population. As well as this, I found it interesting to learn, on average, it takes people up to 10 years to address their hearing loss. (x) You’d think such a thing is crazy, but then when I thought about my history with it up until now – it doesn’t seem all that strange. In this day and age, especially when you’re young, it’s hard to admit to something that can effect your social activity. I admittedly have a complex where I think my hearing loss would burden or annoy people, because they’d have to change their behaviours to accommodate me and ‘I don’t want to anger people’. However, now I have to say to society – boo freakin’ hoo.
Believe me when I say I struggle listening or hearing you. I like being polite to people and believe me never in a million years would I avoid trying to listen to people during conversation. It doesn’t take you much to just repeat what you had to say. Teachers and employers – if you have an employee who has hearing loss and is struggling with concentration or hearing instructions. Try and talk to them. Nobody asks to lose their hearing, lose their sight or any other able ability. Stop assuming that everyone has perfect senses. Assumption makes an ass out of you and I. Or something like that.
Thanks for reading!