Thursday, June 2, 2011

The silence of these walls are stiffling me

The silence of these wall are stifling me

A  true story 
by Ellen Jackson

"The silence of these walls are stifling me." That's a line from a poem I wrote. I, like millions of Americans, never gave much thought to my five senses, even though I wear glasses, which really is a common everyday thing.

The question is, what is deafness? Deafness is usually defined as the inability to hear. There is no legal definition of deafness, and experts do not completely agree on when to use the term. In most cases, however, it refers to the inability to hear and understand speech. Hearing specialists makes the distinguish between deafness and hearing impairments. People with impaired hearing can hear and understand at least some speech.

I fall in the impaired hearing category. After losing 50 percent of my hearing at age 30, I was in an isolation that only another deaf or impaired person could understand.

Let me try to get you to imagine what it would be like not to hear the familiar sounds of water running, music, television, the telephone, the doorbell ringing, cooking (boiling water, frying meats, etc.) I never imagined what looking at television without hearing was like until I lost my hearing. I've been a soap opera fan since childhood, so it was a chilling experience when I couldn't understand my favorite shows. These are the things we take for granted.

My loss of hearing was caused by medications known as "Genamycum" and "Neomycin". I was very sick, and it was the choice of my husband and mother to decide whether I lived or not.

To imagine what a deaf or impaired person goes through is to stay in a room in absolute silence. Try to stay for an hour, or at least half an hour. Then you will know how more than a million hearing impaired people go through life each day. There is absolutely no sound. You have to rely on your other senses: smell, touch, feel (vibrations), taste. 

There are adjustments to make, and they are great. I, for one, am lucky to have a loving husband who answers the phone, the door and makes calls to friends, even though I write to a lot of them. Also I have an understanding boss and co-workers who make my job a lot easier for me.

There are a thousand little things the hearing impaired have to cope with; even with a hearing aid. They are helpful in some cases, so is speech reading, also referred to as lip reading and sign language. Speech reading is very difficult to learn even for the impaired. It has its advantages, like in my case of developed speech. But certain words can throw me off, especially distinguishing sounding words.

Short of wearing a sign that says I'm deaf or am impaired hearing, one of the problems I have  is that individuals don't speak facing me. That is a definite drawback. But I now have new interests like writing poetry, a revived interest in reading and sewing. However, I still miss a lot of the old things.

The old saying that "silence is golden" is a myth if I ever heard one! Try telling that to a deaf person and see what reaction you get.

No comments: