What’d ya say Sonny?

By Maureen Look-Ainsworth– Imagine your world if everything you heard sounded like gobbledygook.

Your friends just invited you to attend a football game that would last 2 hours yet you thought you heard them say that you were invited to a cookout. You were thinking food while they were thinking of hard core tackling. You showed up ready to eat and they showed up with sweats and football gear.

What if you missed 75% of conversations around you?  Would you isolated, as if you are missing out of life and friendship altogether?  What if someone cracked a joke and you stood there wanting it to be repeated? Then once repeated then began laughing…it might seem a bit awkward huh?  If people don’t speak, enunciating each syllable words sound like a muffled noise that resembled a foreign language from a distant island.

Just think of how it feels constantly to say, “Could you say that again please?” or “Would you mind repeating that again?” People would look at you as if something were wrong, and guess what? Something Is!  Beyond the physical appearances of “looking normal,” people have misconceptions about what it is to be hearing impaired. I may “look normal” but have hearing deficits that are significant. When people walk away while talking, cover their mouth when they talk or mumble, it is almost impossible for a hearing impaired person to hear.

Hearing impaired people look at body language, find innuendos in conversation that are almost imperceptible to the hearing person. To us the body language speaks its own body’ese” and tells us our gut instinct about a person. In a crowd a hearing impaired person might talk louder in the hope of showing others to speak up more loudly with the insidious background noise. Multiple accommodations are utilized throughout the day to try to understand the spoken language.

While eating in a restaurant, my mind raced attempting to fill in syllables I couldn’t hear with the din of noise swirling around the conversation. I watched my friend’s mouth intently hoping to pick up any kind of syllable or sound as the exterior noise pressed in and pushed her voice away. I fought to stay engaged in the conversation when other noises were louder and therefore more blatant, more attention getting than hers.

After a two hour conversation, I felt exhausted, I had just spent the majority of time trying to grasp the words that were shared and gather the meaningfulness of the conversation.  My mind was numb after attempting to gather information, my brain nitpicking the words apart to see if she meant “ba” or “da” or “puh” or if she said “that the train is coming around the corner” or if I misunderstood it as “the rain is coming down harder.”

It is with great effort that I live my life in a hearing world.
This all happens while wearing my hearing aids!

The noise intensifies and sensory overload occurs. But I my blessings abound.  How often I wish that I could be “normal” BUT, I can walk, think, speak, see, and have intelligent conversation. Do me a favor today, plug your ears and listen to your friend speak. Could you hear them? Could you hear where they were going to meet you or what time your group study was? How did you feel when all you heard was muffled noise, compounded by surrounding background noise. You don’t know what you’ve got until you lose it.

Be grateful for the gifts God has given you, especially the ones you take for granted.

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