Tuesday, September 25, 2012

How Well Can You Hear?

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More often than not, when I swivel my head to seek for the source of the sound or jump in a startle reflex upon hearing a loud crash; I receive plenty of curious looks and puzzlement from my hearing peer, and I am asked how well can you really hear? 

I try to come up with an answer that I can explain and still make sense. How do I explain to a hearing person about my reaction to hearing sounds? My description or idea of a sound differ vastly from a hearing person's perspective of what a sound is. How do I explain the level of my hearing loss? What sounds can I hear and what I cannot hear? 

I can hear Layla barking but I can't hear her growling out of the window at something. I can hear a loud crash from the kitchen, but I can't determine the direction of crash in the kitchen or what has fallen. I can hear Forrest scream his head off, but I can't hear him whimper. I can hear Stu whistling at me yet I can't hear his voice. If a television has been turned up all way on the volume then I can't hear it yet I can feel the vibration of TV blaring underneath my feet. At the music festival, I hear the bass throbbing, drums banging, guitar plucking blending into the sounds of chaos yet I can't hear the lead singer's voice. I can feel the music throbbing in or on my chest. I can hear the motorcycle rumbling nosily nearby me yet I can't hear it down a block away. 

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What I can hear is mostly sounds happening in the environment that I am in. I can't tell you what direction the sound is coming from or what is causing the sound. All I know is that a sound has occurred. I have to ask someone what the sound is and where it is coming from. Does this annoy me to be able to hear certain things that often startles me or not knowing where the sound is coming from? No. It doesn't. I'm quite used to this, and if I am really intent on wanting to know what the sound is then I'll ask. Otherwise, I ignore it.

Sometimes, I just don't hear what is going on. A good example how my Deafness can kick my butt: I turn on the water faucet to run hot water to thaw out a frozen meat for dinner, and walk away for a minute. I get distracted by my crying baby, barking dog, or something on Facebook then it hit me a few minutes later that the water is still running! Crap. Fortunately, I catch it in time before water overflows out of the sink onto the floor! The key here...just don't walk away and get distracted. Stay in the moment. Focus. Or at least turn off the water before I tend to something that I know will distract me. 

The reactions I get from people upon them finding out that I have some ability to hear sounds varies. It depends on the age of the person. My favorite reactions that I get from is from kids. They come up with funny ways to understand my Deafness. I already typed a post about kids' reaction: Kids' reactions

Now the reactions I get from teenagers and adults are not quite as funny as kids'. They are often inquistive and ask me questions about the level of my hearing loss. While we are on the topic here, my type of Deafness is profoundly Deaf. It basically means your hearing loss is...well, profound, and is well below the average of what is considered to be a norm for hearing. Not many people understand that Deaf people aren't always completely Deaf (don't get me wrong, some really are).

Let me tell you what other group that relies heavily on their generational knowledge (which is often riddled with misconceptions and old ideas about Deafness)....senior citizens, and they come up with craziest ways to logically explain why I am able to hear certain things. 

An elderly man once said to me, "You aren't Deaf. You have selective hearing." 

A seventy-year old woman was watching TV when I came in for my volunteering stint at a nursing home. She found out about my Deafness, and I explained to her that I needed closed captioning for TV in order to understand what was going on and she replied, "What? You don't need captioning. Here, I'll turn up the volume. It does the trick for me."

My maternal grandma, bless her heart, used to tell people that I was faking my Deafness because I was able to hear certain noises. She was convinced that the doctors made a mistake by diagnosing me with being profoundly Deaf. As I grew older, when she said that to me; I just smile and laugh. 

Yep, old people really do say the darnest things sometime, don't they? 

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