Wednesday, 30 June 2010

Nightmare on 'deaf ' Street.

I found myself on deaf Street.

Being no longer able to hear over the phone, was the single biggest heartache for me to deal with. I was used to speaking over the phone at work as a site foreman. I needed my hearing to communicate effectively to my workers, clients and suppliers. With my ears now 'disabled' I simply delegated these duties to my colleagues. In more ways than one, I demoted myself...damn, menieres did that!

Conversation became far more challenging and uppermost in my mind. I had to learn to lip-read and fast. I took an instant dislike to watching peoples lips. My brain was having to work overtime, guessing what people were saying. I quickly lost interest in the daily banter that went on between colleagues and became Jonny no mates, who has moved to deaf Street.

I spent a good deal of time, trying all sorts of alternative therapies to reclaim my lost hearing. I went to an acupuncturist and had needles stuck all over my face and feet in order to stimulate the pathways to recuperation. I even tried one of them crackling candles that you put into your ears. All I got was an ear smelling of Jasmine.

I spent a fortune on all kinds of vitamins, taking them for months. Along with eating all the right foods to try and flush out evil menieres out of my system. But the damage was done and I was truly stuck on deaf Street.

Being deaf meant I had to find new ways of coping. The phone was ditched for Type talk. First time I ever used Type talk was hysterical. Speaking using VCO, I'd yell down the receiver saying 'Can you hhhhhhear mmmmmmmmme'?? and 'Are you receiving me, one two, two, over to you'. lol Type talk is Crap talk, just unbelievably frustrating.

Wearing two hearing aids, I'd get folk looking at me as if I was a simpleton. From going to shops to ordering food in restaurants, I'd get people exaggerating their mouth movements and speaking ever so sssssslowly so that I got the message. That message came across to me as ' You're deaf so you must be dumb'!

All these labels and misconceptions that come with deafness had me to-ing and fro-ing from hysterics to downright anger. Inwardly, I had to dig deep to keep it together. No one I spoke to really understood how it felt. I had lost a life and got a half life instead. Born deaf, couldn't make out what all the fuss was about. HOH folks just shrugged their shoulders and thought themselves fortunate not to be in the dungeons that profound loss catapults you to. Hearing just didn't have a clue, I couldn't expect them too really. So there I was, stuck between worlds and in one that even Freddy wouldn't touch!

Friday, 25 June 2010

You Spin Me Right Round, Baby Right Round...

If you're wondering what this has got to do with deafness, then think again. It's got everything to do with deafness in my case, since I got menieres disease ten years ago.

I would not wish menieres disease on my worst enemy..well, maybe *chuckles to himself *. It's a disease that affects the inner ear and it's balance mechanisms. I'll never forget the day it first struck.

Working alone on a job as I normally did then, I felt a sudden whoooosh sound in my right ear. It felt like all the air was being sucked into it and then nothing. No sound, nothing. Since I did wear a hearing aid in that ear I tried changing the battery to no avail. I was concerned at this point and decided to go home to look into it more. On arriving home, out of nowhere came the spins. The spins had my stomach in knots and feeling god awful. I made my way to the bathroom, where I laid on the floor for sometime, daring not to make any sudden movements as it only made me feel worse.

After a fitful sleep, I felt somewhat better. But the hearing in that ear was still missing. I saw the GP, who as useless as ever, didn't have a clue. So I went private and saw a specialist ear doctor. After various tests done it was suggested I had secondary hydrops. I was advised to take Serc and try a low-salt diet which I duly did. The interesting thing was the Serc did bring back my hearing, but only for 24 hours! I got the spins again which took my hearing permanently that time.

I gave up and resigned myself to wearing just one hearing aid in the remaining ear. For two whole years, I managed well and held a good job which gave me a good lifestyle. I could also hear over the phone well.

But apocalypse came on 11.09.2001, the same day the terrorists struck on the world trade centre. I watched the news report and as I did, I felt my hearing go all funny. It went quiet, at the time, I thought it was just shock. So, I retired to bed early.
Next morning, I felt better and drove to work. Only whilst driving did I start to feel a vertigo attack coming on, so I immediately did a U-turn and came home. My hearing went again and I got mild vertigo. I went to see my GP that day, only that it wasn't my usual GP, instead I was seen by a junior one! He dismissed it as a cold and suggested rhinitis. He also said I could continue flying as I had a holiday planned that week.

So I flew to Tenerife and it turned out to be a big mistake. I got very sick from the flight and ended up spending most of my holiday in bed. I was mostly drunk all the time from vertigo and totally deaf as well!

Back in the UK, I had various tests done and steroid treatment. I only got my hearing back for 12 hours, then it was gone forever.

Menieres won and what was to follow, wasn't good..

Saturday, 19 June 2010

Deaf as a door knob.

I had another hearing test done the other day. And if you look at the above audiogram, I think it's safe to say, I'm officially deaf as a doorknob.

I don't know whether to laugh or cry. In fact, Ive done both over the last decade.

I find this acquired deafness thing pretty hard to deal with. For we take our hearing for granted, and I had no idea of what was to come. Plunging into a world of profound deafness, is in my opinion finding yourself shovelled into a corner, where you just sit and watch while the world laughs without you.

Being profoundly deaf made day-to-day living a nightmare. Tinnitus was especially challenging, from quiet chirping to jet engine roaring I found this really distracting. And the idea of it staying with me till I kicked the bucket, messed with my head big time. I've had 10 years to get used to this, and basically you're stuck with it.

Communicating with hearing folk has been a question of ' Let me control this, otherwise I'm out of here'. I guess, looking back I came across as blunt and abrupt, and it doesn't take a genius to see why. However hearing people generally never understand the issues we face when they talk to us. From reading their lips in a darkened room to the dinner party hell scenario, we have it doubly hard. So, I prefer the life of a hermit. lol

What I hear through my digital hearing aids has a lot to be desired now. Speech is often squeaky and garbled. I don't even attempt to listen without lip-reading. It's self-defeating to be honest. The only benefit I get, from these hearing aids is hearing most environmental sounds.

I thought about having a CI for sometime. I was actually against having one too. I didn't think I was deaf enough for one. However, on hearing more and more 'success' stories, I've come round full circle and actually embraced the idea of having a CI now, although with some trepidation.

It's the last option I have..