When There’s No One to Say “Pardon” To

Gael Hannan
March 31, 2020

 “Socially distant and Spiritually Connected.”

I heard this attributed to Andrew Cuomo, the Governor of New York State whom I’ve decided will be my husband in my next life, but it doesn’t matter who said it first.

They are words to accept, right now, to help us through this nightmare of a global pandemic and our necessary physical isolation from the rest of the human race.

People with hearing loss are no strangers to isolation. When conversations swirl around us, when we are not connected to speakers through assistive devices, when we don’t have visuals of a speaker’s words on their mouths or through captions, we are isolated. We get this.

Some of us cope better than others.  Yesterday, someone texted me: “It’s hard to find anything good to say about being stuck inside except that I haven’t had to ask anybody to repeat themselves.”’

We’ll take any glimmer of positivity And it helps to remember that we are all in this together. We might be physically distant, but we are spiritually connected – as well as technically connected, which works to our communication advantage.

It amazes me how the internet doesn’t crash with the magnitude of people using Zoom, FaceTime, FaceBook, Skype and all those other apps that connect us visually in real time. Essentially, the entire world is on the internet at the same time, waving to their friends, sharing stories, and having virtual cocktail hours and meals together. This is a big WOW!

I empathize with those who are in sheltering by themselves in their homes. I also feel for those who have young children with them now 24/7. But I also want you to understand that there are pitfalls in being confined to barracks with just one other person, a person who you  do still need to ask to repeat him or herself; in my case, it’s the fabulous Hearing Husband. You might have someone similar hiding out from the virus with you, someone who you always said there is no one you would rather be stranded on a desert island with more them.

This is the same person who you really loved in January and most of February, but now by, at the end of March, you may be looking at them and thinking: if you breathe that way one more time, I may do violence. If you keep doing that annoying thing that I never noticed you do before but apparently you always do it and now it’s driving me insane, I will have to rethink our marriage vows. And where does it say that in the list of covid symptoms that says that those with hearing loss will now hear perfectly, so that you are no longer required to face me when TALKING TO ME?!

The Hearing Husband and I are lucky – we have spaces in our house that we can retreat to for alone-time. We also live in the woods, with trails that we are able to get out and hike along on most days. When we meet someone on the trail, we all step off the and give each other the required passing space.

For people with hearing loss, staying connected means using technology that has been designed to help us communicate. Our TVs and computers have captions, either done live or by ASR (automatic speech recognition). The apps allow us to read a person’s lips while watching their words on the screen. Our Bluetooth devices bring the audio directly in to our hearing aids and cochlear implant sound processors. Also crucial to my mental health is the Otter ASR app on my cellphone that I can put next to the computer when playing a non-captioned video.

Do you want another way to connect let the world know you’re still here, still staying healthy and still waiting for the day when we can rush out into the streets like they did at the end of WWII?  At 7pm (or 7:30 in some places), every night, open your window or go out on your balcony or on your driveway – and MAKE SOME NOISE. This noise is a way to demonstrate our thanks to everyone working to get us through this alive.  It also shows your neighbors and the universe just who is still alive and well! Clap your hands, bang a pot, ring a bell, yell thank you and bravo to the universe. You. Will. Feel. Great. And. Grateful.

Stay safe, stay healthy, and remember, even if there’s no person in your house to whom you can say pardon, you can ask someone on FaceTime, Skype, Zoom or any other app to repeat themselves. And then it will feel like the good old days.



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  1. Oh Gael, this was a timely column that I needed to bring a smile to my face, thanks!

    In these scary and uncertain times, we can easily forget the good things in the world, especially modern technology that really does make it (mostly) easier to communicate for persons with hearing loss. When I lost my hearing way back in 1985, all we had were the Analog hearing aids, and shortly after I found out about FM Listening Systems from CHHA-NL, which was a real game changed. But the options available today are amazing.

    So yes, these are difficult times, but technology and a good sense of humour, like yours, does go a long way to making these times easier to endure.

    Bye for and now say hello to your wonderful Hearing Husband!

  2. Thanks Gael. We next have the challenge…at least I am hoping…to hear people who are wearing masks.

    I like your idea to use the speach-to-text app for non-captioned videos. I found Live Transcribe to be easy, accurate, and quick to load. I’m going to apply it to videos now.
    Be well. Grow stronger.

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