Saturday, September 17, 2011
It's Like Playing Wheel of Fortune
I've struggled with learning to read lips as I continue to lose my hearing. However, lately, I'm finding I'm not reading lips as well either, and it's getting frustrating. Not just for me but for others. It's frustrating for people to have to keep repeating something I'm having difficulty hearing or trying to figure out. I have a vision impairment that interferes with my communication, rotary nystagmus, and if things move to fast, I miss details and nuances.
My mother recently discovered one of my techniques. She is using it now herself as she is losing her hearing due to the aging process. She is 83. She sees the look of frustration on the faces of those she is trying to communicate with. She told me one day, "I just nod my head along with them in the conversation when they look like they want a response. They get frustrated with me when they have to keep repeating something. Most of the time they repeat the entire conversation, when it is just one word not making sense, yet that one word makes all the difference."
Another problem is sarcasm. As we lose our hearing, we lose the ability to distinguish the tone of sarcasm. Without hearing the tone, we think you are saying the opposite of what you really mean. I had friends who did this all the time. After while, you just give up trying to communicate or follow along because they are saying one thing one moment that is the total opposite of what they are saying the next minute. Very confusing.
Back to the nodding of the head. My mother and I have found that sometimes keeping the peace and being polite is to simply appear to understand what we don't. To do otherwise causes a person to feel uncomfortable and not want to talk to us anymore, or be at a loss as to how to communicate with us.
I will often ask someone to repeat, but if I have to have them repeat the same phrase or word over and over, I give up in frustration. Then, I just politely nod my head and they will continue with the conversation where they left off.
Often people will ask me if I can hear them. Well, yes. If they're speaking loud enough, I hear something. But it's difficult to distinguish the sounds. It's difficult to have to explain this to everyone when they ask me that. It's not always a matter of hearing, it's a matter of interpreting what I see on the lips in conjunction with the few sounds I hear. Isn't that confusing? It's like playing Wheel of Fortune with every conversation I have. Ok, I've got a few letters, but look at all those blank squares. It's a constant fill in the blanks and trying to do that while following a conversation. It's difficult and exhausting.
At my son's school one day, I had asked one of the teachers her name. She answered, "Senior Pastor". I kept asking her name each time I saw her. She continued to give me her title, not her name. After while, I gave up and quit asking.
Half way through the school year, she sends a nice card to me. It is signed "Senora Kratzer". Compare that to Senior Pastor and you can see how that can happen. This happens to me ...all....day.....long...
I constantly misinterpret sounds or words. I struggle through as best as I can. I've become very self-conscious questioning what I'm hearing because I know that often what I think I am hearing or reading on the lips actually is not what is really being said.
Did that make sense? Often what I think I am hearing or reading on the lips is actually NOT what is being said.
If you and I are talking sometime, and I answer a question oddly, chances are I didn't hear you correctly. Ask again, rephrase the question. That often makes the difference.