Last Friday, I found the following in my inbox on Facebook from a very dear friend who we affectionately call Bee:
Hi there, I hope your recovery is going well with your ankle. You will be back out there before you know it.
I gotta tell you i don’t know how you do it with the loss of hearing. I woke up (in early Feb) and could hardly hear anything out of my right ear. I have had fluid behind the eardrum since I had pneumonia in 1999 and was told to have a tube put in and was too afraid to, so I have had a slight hearing problem because of that ever since. well after being very sick for almost 4 weeks in Jan and feb more fluid built up. After seeing the ear DR he said the loss may be permanent. I had a tube inserted this past Tues. and am not hearing any better yet. The only thing the tube seemed to do is highlight wind and road noise when i drive and make me hear my own heartbeat in my ear when i am trying to sleep. I commend you for all you go thru as what i have is nothing and yet still is bothering me to deal with it.
Bee (Belinda), along with her husband Mike, is part of our inner crowd of runners. She is an elite marathon runner who has done Chicago, NYC and Boston just to name a few top races.
Most people don’t realize what hearing impaired people go through especially those who lose some or all in their later years. We call them late-deafen. For someone like me – born with a hearing loss, its a way of life. We adapt and adjust as we go along. We receive specialized training. We are surrounded by people who understand and care – parents, spouse, family, other hearing impaired friends, etc.
Even with all of that, we still have to endure the trials and tribulations of dealing with hearing loss. People tend to think we aren’t paying attention or we just don’t understand. Some just kind of throw their arms up and walk away in frustration because they can’t have a “normal” conversation with us especially after having to repeat what they said, several times.
Some of us are even isolated socially. We just kind of like sit in the middle of a conversation nodding as if we understand what is going on and hoping that our reactions are in line with the flow of the conversation. Sometimes we walk around aimlessly looking for a conversation that we can hear and understand and if the environment is noisy like in a restaurant or at a party, it is like playing musical chairs.
Some of us are aided by devices such as a hearing aid or in my case, a cochlear implant. Even with such sophisticated devices, our hearing still isn’t “normal”. Although the CI does give me to closest thing to normal, I have to endure a lot of training. In explaining to others how it works, I use the analogy of an infant. Since the CI creates the kind of stimulation required for auditory perception, the brain still needs to be trained. Having received my right side in 2007 and left side in 2008, one can surmise that my auditory system is that of a five year old.
We are not ashamed of our hearing losses and despite our best attempts to educate others, they still don’t get it. I am truly blessed to be surrounded by beautiful and wonderful family and friends who know me well enough to reciprocate. Even with that, they sometimes forget.
Bee…you don’t have nothing. You may have lost your hearing in one ear but you still have a beautiful heart to write such a note. As much as you commend me for all I go through, it could have been made any easier than it is today without wonderful people like you…and Mike. Don’t let it bother you……like me and thousands of others who lose their hearing, you’ll adapt and adjust. And you’ll still have the wonderful friendship we all share. 🙂