If I Were A Hearing Person (Revisited)

Two years ago, I wrote about what it might be like to not have hearing loss—to hear perfectly, unaided by either technology or other people. We all dream, from time to time, about living a different life. And there’s nothing wrong with that, as long as we avoid getting stuck in the mud of self-pity, rather than about our hearing loss or any other disability.

 

Here is my updated dream:

 

If I were a hearing person….

I would wake in the morning, and immediately connect
With the sounds of house-life around me
Husband breathing, cats playing, cell phone vibrating
There would be no noiseless pause as I reach for the jar
Where my hearing aids have slept through the night
And then, once they’re in, even the silence has a sound.

 

If I were a hearing person….

I would not have to stand at the door of a party
Stomach clenched as I prepare for conversations
Saturated with the overwhelming din of the crowd
Not catching the names of strangers or the words of friends
I wouldn’t have to copy the smiles of others,
Which are the only things I can understand in this noise.

 

If I were a hearing person….

I would dine in a gorgeous, dimly lit place
With one romantic candle lighting the face of my handsome husband.
I would understand the server, and maybe order for both of us.
My husband might lean over and whisper in my ear
And I wouldn’t need to read his lips.

 

If I were a hearing person….

The captioning would be off, not covering up
The feet, the faces, the hands and the places
Because these are words I can hear and don’t have to see.
At the movies I would follow the action
And not poke my partner with “What did he say?”
Or maybe he’d ask me what a character just said,
And I would never say, “Sshh, I’ll tellya later.”

 

If I were a hearing person….

Talking on the phone would never have caused
A problem like the one on my very first job,
I answered the phone in the hospital clinic
And said, “Who is this, please – I’m sorry, it’s who?
Oh, I’m afraid Dr. Scott is not here, I’m sorry, he’s not.
What’s that you say? Oh, YOU’RE Dr. Scott!?

 

 

If I were a hearing person….

I wouldn’t be feeling the supreme disappointment of a hearing loss
That has started to worsen, making some sounds garbled and others extra-loud
And delivering the irony that the clearest sounds are the ones inside my head: the din of inner tinnitus

 

If I were a hearing person….

I would not have to fight for the right to access – so that I can see a movie, watch TV, understand a lecture, get an education, receive health care, sit on a jury, and do my job…just the same as all the hearing people.

 

I will never again be a ‘hearing’ person—was I ever?—but the months are ticking down until my cochlear implant, and so I’ve started dreaming again.

 

About Gael Hannan

Gael Hannan is a writer, speaker and advocate on hearing loss issues. In addition to her weekly blog for HearingHealthMatters.org, which has an international following, Gael wrote the acclaimed book "The Way I Hear It: A Life with Hearing Loss". She is regularly invited to present her uniquely humorous and insightful work to appreciative audiences around the world. Gael has received many awards for her work, which includes advocacy for a more inclusive society for people with hearing loss. She lives with her husband on Vancouver Island, British Columbia, Canada.

17 Comments

  1. tHANK YOU FOR SPEAKING MY HEART. THIS WAS WONDERFUL TO SHARE .

    -iT IS SO IMPORTANT FOR ALL OF US TO RECOGNIZE EACH OTHERS DISABILITES AND TRY TO OFFER SUPPORT WHEN WE CAN. PEOPLE NEED TO FEEL SUPPORTED NOT SIGNLED OUT. TO WANT TO MOVE FROM ISOLATION AND PERHAPS SOME SHAME,,BACK INTO A LIFE THEY DESERVE TO LIVE TO THE FULLEST

    THANK YOU FOR THIS SO VERY TOUCHING POST . LETS ALL PASS IT ON TO HELP EDUCATION OTHER S HOPING THEY WILL BE MOTIVATED TO REACH OUT FOR HELP IF THEY NEED IT.

  2. Wow, I wish every one could see in your beautiful essay just what we dream our lives would be like — so effortless! Hearing loss is the gift that makes us pay and pay, every day of our lives, and never lets us forget it. I wish you well on your CI, but even mine do not deliver the sound I used to hear regularly — just a parody of it. Curiously, I do hear the turn signals and the chirping birds quite well, sounds that until recently were completely unknown to me.

  3. Awesome! I liked the part abouts about ALDS and rights to access…oh how nice it would be to have unfetteref access to edication, announcements that plane gate moved or a train station coming up; or what is said in the legislative hall…! Yes, our invisible communication disability is so challenging. Imagine if instead of bifocals, one had to use different wavelength remote controls to see tv, speakers, movies, or anything at a distance, and the devices might be proprietary and so you need diffetent ones depending on TV model or what cell service plan you have…that is my description of ALDs. Not the true prosthetic we need. Good luck with your CI prosthetic!!!

  4. As the spouse of someone with severe hearing loss, your images resonated with me. It’s so impt for caregivers, partners and families to face the issues head on and understand what their hearing impaired loved ones feel. You expressed it beautifully.

  5. Thanks Gael. Great post that resonates with all of us who live with the invisible disability of partial deafness. It’s the social exclusion that bothers me the most. With the right technology I can enjoy theater, meetings, TV, etc., but there is no real solution for that stomach clenching feeling in social settings where we’re surrounded by friends and/or family in conversation. That nodding and fake smiling hides the frustration, but it’s there loud and clear. Some of us decide to avoid those difficult settings, while others tough them out because the alternative doesn’t suit our personality or fit our life style. Thankfully some of the ALDs that go beyond hearing aids do help in these settings when we are willing to use them. Sad that so many are not willing. Hey, great to hear you are going the CI route. That has helped me tremendously, but right…we will never be hearing people again, but nor will we be Deaf. How thankful we can be for technology we never dreamed of when hearing gloss came to tell us how to live our lives! We can be ‘half’ or even ‘three quarters’ hearing’! Good luck with the CI. I know you’ll keep us posted!

  6. Your writing brought me to tears. Wow – you have such a gift of writing.

    My dream is that everyone (especially those involved in the design and construction of facilities) understands the limitations of the microphones in hearing aids or cochlear implants and will work to equip EVERY place that uses a PA system or where verbal communication takes place (check out counters, service desks, ticket windows – etc) with a hearing loop without being kindly asked (or mandated) to do so. Just like they would NEVER construct a building without a wheel chair ramp.

  7. How wonderful! Thank you Gael. Yes, I could have said that. But that’s what is said about all good writing. To hope again – I am afraid to get onto the hope cycle. I am three weeks post op CI. It has not been activated yet and I am both excited and afraid. What if it isn’t any better than what I have had for almost 20 years of one after another set of obscenely expensive hearing aids. No matter how much I explain what it means to have hearing loss, I never get the sense that “they” really get it. Best wishes for your coming CI. Everyone says it will be better.

    1. Jerry – and we will believe those other people, won’t we? If you enjoy reading about hearing loss, consider getting my book “The Way I Hear It: A Life with Hearing Loss”. Let me know how you like it.

  8. Congratulations on your upcoming cochlear implant! Just the start of a wonderful new journey. Love my implant and wish you much success with yours.

  9. Hi Gael can’t tell you how much I love your posts. When are you scheduled for the cochlear implant? Praying you will love the result and once again lead others to seek help. Best wishes Judi Gravett

    1. Thank you Judi…the CI won’t be until this fall at least. Thank you for your support – and of other Australians living with hearing loss!

  10. Gael

    You describe my dreams so well BUT at the end of the day your hearing loss is a dream come true for those who struggle. Your experience with hearing loss and the ability to write what you think and feel take away the pain of nightmares for those who struggle . Hope I make sense!!!

  11. All good points Ms. Hannan

    A thought came to me, Could I stand all the noises if I became a hearing person? Being with a severe to profound loss since I was born, I don’t know… I like the peace and quiet without my hearing aids, especially at bed time.

    On a different note… Because I can understand people when I face them with speech reading and hearing aids, I’m not qualified for Cochlear Implant. Strange…

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