Tempus Fugit

Posted by jennifer gibson on Monday, July 30, 2012
Tomb Raider fans will know exactly what the latin phrase means as posted above  ;)

As many people have noticed, obviously, it's been a long time since I've added anything to my blog.  And for that, I extend my deepest apologies.  I've been swamped with getting my third novel finished as well going through the official stages of editing my first book at the same time.  Talk about overlapping jobs.  And yes, writing a book really is a full time job.  Good news, all that hard work has paid off! Sway is now being printed as we speak.  It will be available in paperback format for the Fall (and yes, I am doing an official Book Launch at that time).  The third book, is nearly finished and will be edited soon.  Whoo!  What an exciting moment!  Quick!  Someone break out the champagne!

We are reaching a monumental stage here with the completion of three books.  When I first started writing, I never anticipated going past my first book. I felt lucky enough to have written an entire book. Writing three of them has been a surprising revelation and a thrilling one!  It's been an exciting adventure from beginning to end that took nearly four years to complete.  In between writing these books, I was also responsible for the marketing & advertising aspects of it as well sending out queries to potential publishers at the same time.  I did not have an agent doing the work for me, I had to do all by myself and it turned into a full time job.  And I gotta admit, not only is it a huge relief to have produced three books and getting them published, it's also an astounding achievement for someone like me.  Wow!

Lately, I've had numerous requests from local people asking for more information on hearing loss, where to get new hearing aids, and how to deal with the overall loss, particularly in regards to being cut off from the society.  That's exactly the correct course of action to take: find valuable resources within the community.  Now, I'm sure that some of you are already scratching your head and wondering the heck I'm talking about.  It simply means asking around and talking to other people who have a hearing loss.  Why? Not only do they have extensive experience in dealing with a hearing loss, they also carry a wealth of information about the best places to go for audiology services, general questions about hearing aids, batteries and ear molds as well as day to day advice on dealing with common issues. 

I'm sure that some people would find this an intimidating experience to go through, having people talk to you about hearing aids and hearing loss - that's not the case with me since I've been doing this since I was a very young kid.  Growing up, I've always had people ask all sorts of curious questions, from the mundane to the ridiculous.  Yes, ridiculous.  Like, "Does it hurt to put them on?"  (Here's a hint: the ear molds are super soft) or this: "You can read lips right? What am I saying now?" and they exaggerate their features greatly to the point where it not only looks frightening, it makes no sense at all.  Yeah, that's fabulous, thanks for embarrassing me in front of these people and being so disrespectful towards us.  Why would it be disrespectful you ask?  Poking fun at people with disabilities is shameful.  We went through that painful phase as kids in school, the last thing we want to do is go through it again with educated adults.

Here's another one that I'm often asked: "Do you know sign language? Can you show me?"  Sadly, the answer is no. While I can understand sign language, I personally don't use it on a regular basis because no one else uses it except my parents and that's only if I don't have my hearing aids on.  And no, I don't wear them to bed. Like everyone else who takes off their glasses to go to sleep, I take off my hearing aids at night. 

While I appreciate talking to people about hearing aids and hearing loss and admire their genuine interest in learning more about it, here are a few cool tips to keep in mind when talking to people like us. 

First of all, many of us don't sound deaf, namely talking with a thick accent as if we're from a strange country.  The reason for this is the evolution of technology through our digital hearing aids.  They help us hear our own voice which enables us to correct our speech. In my case, I also had speech therapy as a kid, lots and lots of speech therapy.  I'm very lucky to sound even remotely close to being normal and that can be a pain in the butt at times when someone doesn't realize that I can't hear them very well and they end up giving me a hard time about it and calling me stupid or worse; treating me like I'm quite dimwitted.  I'm smart, very smart and unfortunately, my hearing loss hides this fact.  It actually prevents me from engaging in meaningful conversations with other people because I have so much trouble keeping up with them. 

Second of all, Cochlear Implants are not for very everyone.  Every case is different and you would be surprised that some people actually do not qualify for one due to specific circumstances (it could be a medical issue, lack of funds, or religious choice).  This is not a topic to bring up nor ask, particularly when you're meeting someone for the first time.  It's a very touchy subject and a deeply personal one.  I can't even begin to tell you how many times I get asked to consider having one done from my nurse, my regular doctor, the ER doctor, the surgeon, audiologist, the ENT, hearing aid dispenser, and on and on and on. Over and over. All from "medical professionals" who promptly ask me that question as soon as I step into their office regardless of why I'm there in the first place.  Hello?  Broken foot, why are we talking about my ears?  Everywhere I go, I'm asked if I had considered getting a Cochlear Implant. I find it really unprofessional and extremely offensive. Why? Because it sounds more like a sales pitch and in my eyes, it cheapens the medical profession.  While some of them genuinely want to help by keeping me up to date on the latest technology, they have no idea of the consequences associated with getting one.

Third of all, we are normal people who try our best to fit in with the society.  We're smart.  We have awesome dreams and lofty goals.  We're not lazy.  We want to live life to the fullest too.  Having a hearing loss is a really difficult and debilitating disability that prevents us from working and communicating at the same speed as everyone else.  In many ways, it cuts off us from the people that we care about the most and it hurts.  Quite often, people get tired of having to repeat themselves or rephrase a question so that we can understand it.  In many cases, they just walk away from us, saying "Never mind."  That's the worst thing you can do or say to someone like me.  Not only is it rude, it's a very offensive gesture. Does it seem fair to tell me that it's not important then promptly turn around and talk to someone else about the same thing?  No! I want to know what you said, I want to be a part of your life.  Find a way to talk to me and include me in your circle of friends.  I'm human too.  I have feelings like you.   

While this post may seem like I'm reacting to something that someone may have said to me, that's not the case at all here.  It's simply a list of thoughts that pop up from time to time through meeting people or a regular occurrence that prompted me to write it all down.  I simply posted this information to help others who may be going through the same thing or have curious questions like everyone else.  While I realize that these responses won't answer all of those questions going through your head, at least it's a great starting point.  And it's most certainly not meant to offend anyone, it's simply a fact of life and an incredible glimpse into my life as a hearing impaired person.

There is so much that happens to someone with a hearing impairment, it changes their life: literally.  It's like driving down the road at a comfortable speed, then you hit a speed bump and end up veering off course, way off course into the unknown.  You're frantically gripping the steering wheel and holding on for dear life, while trying to figure out the best way to take control of the situation. Do you cry hysterically? No!  Let go of the steering wheel, and pray that you land safely into a lush field and hope that the air bags save you?  Heck, no! You do your best to handle what is happening in front of you right now, thinking on your feet at breakneck speed.  That's what it's like for me.  It's as if I'm swimming against a particularly difficult tide while everyone else seems to just cruise past me on their powerboats as if they were in an episode of Miami Vice.  Where's Crockett and Tubbs when ya need 'em?

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