If I Were a Hearing Person (2020)

Several years ago, I wrote about the dream that many of us with chronic hearing loss have, although we would rather lick paint than admit it. In that dream, our hearing loss disappears and we can hear perfectly, unaided by technology or other people. We imagine how every part of our life would be different in a world where we understand, the first time, every time.  

And hey, what’s wrong with that? It’s no different than wishing we were thinner or prettier, with different hair (such as more hair) or we were richer. The only danger in this thinking is the risk of considering ourselves as defective, or not perfect enough, as if such a thing is possible.  

My hearing and my hearing accessibility have changed through the years, and so I update my dream, because dreaming is what people do.

 

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
Wondering if I will catch the names of strangers or the words of friends
I wouldn’t copy the smiles of others,
Which sometimes 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 part of the screen. Or maybe I would use captioning because films are noisy and actors mumble and I know this because even the Hearing Husband and the Adorable Grandson like to see the words that help make sense of the action.

 

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….

Perhaps I would have avoided the curse of  Tinnitus. My head would not harbour this noisy beast, which is often the clearest sound I hear, competing with the sounds of nature and voices and music – and winning.

But I also would not have known the miracle of cochlear implants – which lets me hear the songs of small birds that triumph clearly over the sounds of the horrible-head-beast.

 

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 wake up and I know I will never again be a ‘hearing’ person—but was I ever? Perhaps not, but today I am something even more miraculous – I’m a person with hearing loss who can hear.

 

 

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.

10 Comments

  1. Thank you Gael for using your gift of prose!
    As the hearing spouse, I am always given the gift of compassion and patience with your writings.
    Keep them coming so I can share with my large family! Cheers!
    CB from Tennessee

    1. Oh Carole, I woke up to your message this morning – thank you! You can scroll back through approximately 450 past articles of mine, but if you want to read about any particular topic, let me know and I can email them to you.

    1. Thanks Laurie – it’s OK to wish for something that we may never have. Then we turn our attention to doing the best we can with what we’ve got.

  2. I’m not clear whether you have cochlear implants. It appears you did. If you did, would you recommend that procedure to others with hearing loss?

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