Today, in my bus I received a phone call, coming from my school … Strangely, I could not answer.
I found myself a little stupid to see my phone ring without being able to pick up and see at the end of the ringtones the small logo indicating a voice message. Maybe I’m a little crazy, but I imagined everything and anything in this message. I told myself that for the person to call me without having thought about my condition, it was because she had to do it in an emergency and / or stress and I ended up imagining the worst . I thought back to mom and how daddy felt when he learned about our accident. A ball of anxiety is set to twist my bowels, very quickly I thought something had happened to a member of my family. So I started sending messages to my dad, my sister, my brother, my boy friend and all the rest of my repertoire. But their answers took sooo… long to arrive that the time of my trip, I was on the verge of panic, on the verge of tears.
As I passed the door of the establishment, I felt a hand on my shoulder, a hand that made me jump. It was my friend Pia, what a relief! I was able to ask her to listen to this damn message. It was a message from management asking me to call them back to give them information about my year abroad in September … Call them back , the good joke.
I was so upset! Annoyed to have had these terrifying thoughts … After having a coffee to calm down a bit, I went to see the secretary in question.
“Miss Hensen? You had to call us back. _But Madam, I am deaf! _A close friend could not do it for you? _Yes I’m deaf but I’m not impotent, if I can regulate my business by myself, I do not see why I annoy my entourage … “
No excuse, nothing, I thought I was going to gut her.
On the number of students they have contacted, I can understand that we are wrong or that we do not see that someone is deaf in the heap, but recognize his mistake and a word of excuse, it does not cost much, to appease the tensions …
What made my blood boil is his astonishment about not asking a loved one to call her back for me. To have a disability is already something complicated to live in everyday life, for us or our relatives. We spend our life learning to be as autonomous as possible. The few times we have to call a third party to do something that is impossible for us, it’s humiliating, so please do not count on the fact that we can be helped to do this. or something just to make your life easier. Here the problem simply will not exist if I had been contacted by SMS as it has always been done since my deafness, even in this school.
After a little blunder this morning, which made me feel very silly, but I found it very funny, I thought that sharing with you this little kind of incident could be fun and at the same time is a roundabout way of talking about my daily life. If you like it, I’ll post others later.
Does it works?
This morning I vacuumed the apartment. I plugged it in and went everywhere, then coming back to the kitchen to put it in the closet, I saw some crumbs on the floor. I was fine to pass it again and again but they were still there … I pass the hand at the end of the pipe and I realize that it does not suck! Does my vacuum cleaner work? Well I did not press very well the on / off button! >.<
I love administrative procedures!
At the start of the next school year, I go to study in France for a year and suddenly I have plenty of small administrative procedures to do, and make administrative steps when you’re deaf is not easy. Especially when you spend the morning waiting in line and the person at the ticket office tells you to call at a particular place, it left me a little perplexed, even if it was not the first time. If we move is that we can not really do otherwise. “Can not you call? Ask your spouse; father or friend to help you … “ I do not like to ask this kind of things, it always makes me feel uncomfortable, we do not necessarily want to be a burden for our loved ones. The administrative procedures is already not very funny then impose them to others …
Dear Mr Ferguson!
At the gymnasium (high school in Denmark) I had a plastic art teacher who was a bit up and not paying much attention to the world around him. One day he asked us to do an exercise that I did not understand the instructions. I asked him to repeat, but I still did not understand. So I asked him to repeat, but this time he was back so I asked him again to repeat and he said to me:
“But are you deaf or what? – Well yes I am sir! “
He made me full of excuses. And I admit that it was rather funny after all.
In a slightly lighter tone, I remember once when I was taking the bus with Erik, my boyfriend and a deaf friend. There was a class of young children who had to go on a school trip. I did not pay attention to them, too busy that I was signed with my friend while trying not to fall every time the driver brakes, it is a very dangerous activity to be standing in a bus on the move and signing at the same time! Coming off the bus, Erik giggled, I did not understand why. He explained to us that the children were taken aback to see us speak in sign language and that some of them thought we should be spies speaking a coded language. Yeah I know it’s cool!
I wake up thanks to the vibrator on my phone. I gently release the arm that surrounds my waist and head to the bathroom. Shower, dressing, makeup. And I go down to prepare the breakfast with Kælen one of our cat.
Yeah I know it’s not very feminist to always cook but if you had tasted that of my boyfriend, you too you beg him not to approach the stove! (Or you would eat cereals morning, noon and night).
I set the table when I feel something settle on my hips. It made me jump and spilled fruit juice everywhere. At least this time it was not hot coffee. Fortunately for him, he knows very well to be forgiven … Alas this time I have no time! 😦 A little kiss, and I go to my classes by bike, often joined by Pia, my best friend who studies in the same school.
At 5 pm I join Erik (my boyfriend) at the dance school, for 2 hours of suffering!
7 pm arrive we go home. I open the fridge where I moan for not having had time to go shopping (as usual!). And yes the shops closes between 6 and 7 pm. We order so to eat, tonight it’s pizza and in general we slouched on the sofa in front of Netflix before going to bed, but not tonight. We had something to finish … 😏
This morning, same ritual as the previous day with the aches and more. At noon, having two hour break, I decide to eat with my aunt who works nearby, with hes best friend who keeps complimenting me on my physique. It’s good for morals, but being a lesbian I’m not sure it’s done innocently.
tonight, I have art classes. With a teacher difficult to understand because he always talks back to his students. Fortunately, I’m sitting next to a girl who has become one of my best friends, who takes all her time to explain me the instructions (😘 Freja). A perspective course that would have been very complicated without her precious help.
Go to the bathroom to remove my war paintings. Indeed I do not know what I did to him but the painting always attacks me and I finish with spots everywhere and sometimes in unsuspected places. 🤬
Once the battle is won 💪, return home became clean thanks to my dear and tender. I must say that I have tamed him well! 😈 He got tired of me vacuuming in the middle of the night. Being deaf means that I do not realize how much noise I can make around me, even if I try to be careful.
I only have two hours of lessons so my sweetheart comes looking for me to go to Strøget, usually accompanied by Pia and Freja. Strøget is a pedestrian shopping street ideal for window shopping, one of my favorite activities and also normal shopping a much less attractive but very necessary activity if you do not want to eat pizza all week, you will agree .
This afternoon, we were joined by friends of Erik and then we went to my grandfather (maternal side). He wanted to test a new recipe for a future pastry contest. It was so good. Then we spent our time playing role playing games (right now it’s Call of Cthulhu) And yes my boyfriend is a geek and we all fell in. It has become a tradition. Grandpa has become addict. he often make us cupcakes on the theme of the actual game.🤤
It’s about the same as Monday, but with fewer complaints, indeed, the fridge is full! In the evening, preparing my stuff for the weekend, then I geek on the pc where I ridicule noobs on DoTA 2. 😝
This morning I normally have a music course but I’m exempt so I take the opportunity to see Pia at her drama class. I do not understand anything, but I know she’s shy, and this time she’s got a big role in her piece, so I support her!
In the evening, 2 hours of dancing, a shower and I am driving to the station to catch the train. I hate the stations! Indeed I do not hear the announcements made at the microphone in the station itself, but also in the trains. It has the gift of making me stress like not possible when there is an unexpected. (train arriving late, abnormal stop …). A big hug to my dear on the dock to try to delay as much as possible this separation.
Finally sitting on the train, I take the opportunity to do my homework and / or write, my diary.
3 hours later I arrive in Århus, at my dad’s, with about 180 kg of linen rooms. Hey yes the first thing I do when I arrive is to wash my clothes, we save as we can!
Going up from the basement where the washing machine is, a smell of food carries me into the kitchen, where my dad prepares pasta Bologna to fall to the ground. I take advantage of his head in the spice cupboard to try to poke a meatball in the pan before receiving a wooden spoon hit on the hand. Damn, miss!
Finally, we spend the evening telling our week. Tonight he’s telling me about his girlfriend Kirsten and that he would like me to meet her. I knew he had met someone, he had already gone out with other women but this time it becomes serious. I admit that it makes me a little heartache, even if I’m happy for him.(Last time I saw him with some one it was my mom) He planned to introduce me the next day during our weekly lunch with grandpa and granny (paternal side).
When I wake up, I put on my sportswear and go for my usual bike ride. I went to buy flowers and when I came back I went to the cemetery. to put it on my mom’s grave, as I usually do for praying and speaking to her about my life. On my return, after a good shower, I help dad to cook, I love those moments where we do not even need to talk to understand each other. I help him to get dressed, the poor guy is all stressed. The doorbell flashes (the doorbell is connected to bulbs in the house so I know when someone is at the door), I thought he was going to make a panic attack. I began to giggle, never had I seen dad so uncomfortable. To calm him down, I told him that for my part, I found it normal that he wanted to remake his life and that for him to get into such a state, this woman had to be really special to him. After these wise words I am going to open. False alert, it was “only” grandpa and grandma. Granny who always basins me of indiscreet questions about my couple and grandpa who always saves me the setting by diverting the conversation on everything and anything. The bell is blinking once again, this time it’s up to me to get nervous.
A pretty blonde woman in her forties is holding me, I understand better why he wanted to make her a good impression … And then she starts talking and there is the drama!
“HELLO YOU MUST BE NILSA …”
She begins to speak by detaching all the syllables, as we will speak to a baby. Noob error. I kindly explain that yes I’m deaf but she could talk to me normally, it was easier for me to understand. Once this clumsiness is repaired, I invite her to enter.
At the table, we talked about banalities, and grandma bombarded her with questions. I was almost embarrassed for her.
Hard to know a person in one evening, but she made me feel good. Intelligent, a little shy but with a certain sense of humor. I think I like her!
This morning I went to meet a family whose little boy is losing hearing. One of my neighbor put us in contact so that I can explain to them how this is the life of a deaf person every day. We talked about implant, sign language, readings on the lips, my daily life. In the first place they seemed tense, but I think I managed to reassure them.
Noon, back home, daddy is not here but I’m a little hungry. Instant inspection of the drawer fronts. Epic loot: a box of pasta and a can of peeled tomatoes!
Meanwhile dad, I grab the notepad and draw (scribble) a bird that is placed in the garden.
Once Dad returned, we finally go to the table. Well my tramp was not bad!
It’s 2 pm I’m impatient in front of the PC! Video conference with my older sister who lives abroad.
I prepare my suitcase and return to the station to catch the train of 17 hours. I take the 3 hour trip to write you these lines. My goal, when I started writing Monday, my idea was to describe the daily life of a deaf person, but I did not think that such a personal event would happen, but hey I still played the game.
I’m sorry, but put by that my life is not very exciting, on the other hand it allows you to see, it’s not because I’m deaf that I do not have a social life or normal life. I play sports, paint and even dance. Losing hearing is not the end of the world. Of course learning to fend for yourself is work (learn to read on the lips, sign language, …) but we can do it. To reach a normal life is not an impossible goal.
Saturday I met a cousin of my boyfriend. Julie, a very nice girl, and very curious, who paused me a lot of questions about my deafness, how deaf I was, what I felt when I lost my hearing, my percentage of deafness … Why I’m not implanted …
She spoke of a cochlear implant. I’m not an expert so I’ll try to explain, how it works from what I understand.
Basically it looks like this:
In fact it is in two parts, one visible in the photo and the other is implanted under the skin. The outer part is used to pick up sounds and send them to the inner part. The latter sends the information directly to the auditory nerve through electrodes directly into the cochlea (the last part of the inner ear). The implant serves to give a semblance of hearing. Be careful, that does not make a deaf person a hearing, there is a lot of effort to make to understand what is said to him orally.
She made a remark that touched me more than I would have liked:
“you could finally hear the voice of your lover!”
But then why am I not implanted?
Well already we can not say that it is very sexy! More seriously, my problem comes from my auditory nerve, but it is one of the only cases where the cochlear implant is useless.
After this conversation, I talked a lot with my deaf friends, with or without an implant to think about the limits of cochlear implants, with a big thought for parents who have a deaf child and who thinks of implanting it.
I have a friend named Cedrik who was implanted at the age of 9 and decided at the age of 16 to unplug his implant and have it removed at age 21. With the implant he did not know, despite hard efforts, learn oralism (speak with his voice) and especially understand what was said when he did not see the mouth of the person who spoke to him. he heard words and sounds, but he could not decipher them. Indeed, the later the implant is delayed and the more difficult it is to learn for a deaf person by birth. For him, the sounds, the noises, to hear was something new, it was sudden and brutal. It touched something deep in his personality had an intrusion into his intimacy that he had trouble accepting. Other friends have made it but it’s a hard time to pass. Despite this experience, he regrets nothing. He is still happy to understand better what it is to hear.
After my accident, when I woke up a few days later in my hospital bed, the silence was deafening. I could talk, scream, nothing. At first I thought myself mute, and then I realized that I could not hear the sounds of the machines, nor of my dad and my sister whom I had awakened with a start. I was panicked. Although I had a week of coma, for me the moment before I sang with my mother in the car, and the next moment nothing. And then little by little I learned to tame silence, to live with him, but I had no choice.
For a hearing, some noises can be comforting, the sound of rain, the voice of a mother; the sound of the ocean … But for a deaf person it is the opposite, the silence being all that he knew, and the noises being perceived at first as an aggression, it can be tempting to press the off button of their implant. Having the choice, can be part of the difficulty that some of them have to learn to hear. (It is certainly a preconceived idea, I am not a psychologist).
Was it a bad idea to have him implanted? In my case, I do not have the possibility so my opinion is a bit biased, without counting that I was hearing until I was 11 years old. I know what it’s like to hear. In my case, if I could, I would have been implanted. I would love to know the voice of my lover and what saddens me the most is that, even if I do not want to have a child now, the day I become a mother, I will never know his voice. This is the only real thing that makes me sad in all this. On the other hand for a deaf person of birth, it is necessary to understand that what he never knew does not miss him. They are able to do this by themselves in almost every situation that will arise, they will adapt.
In my humble opinion, it is never a mistake to want to improve the daily life of a person whom we love more than anything. Once implanted, the child will always be free to use it or not. On the other hand, what I deplore about the doctors (at least in the cases of my friends around me) is that they often push the deaf person to learn oralism and more or less abandon the sign language. And I think it’s a big mistake. We must not forget that for him sign language is his native language. It’s part of his identity and it’s important I think not to cut the child out of the deaf community. It remains a pillar, and is always helpful in learning to cope in life with this handicap.
If I made you by the case of Cedrik, it is because his case denoted compared to those of the 5 other implanted persons whom I know. For thosz one, despite the long adaptation phase, everything went well and they are delighted.
Today I went to get some bread, a very ordinary gesture, but the person who served me was new and did not know me. She asked me a question but she had turned around, not seeing her lips, I could not answer her. She got angry, thinking that I did not care about her. So I explained myself, but she did not believe me. Why ? Because I was talking … She did not understand that a deaf person could speak. Spoiler! A deaf person is not necessarily mute.
If there has been no any damage or malformations in the throat, all the deaf can speak (orally). If some deaf people do not speak it is often because they became deaf before they could hear or learn to speak. (Even after learning, do not hear any more voices around us either push us to practice less.) When you grow up without speaking, it’s not easy to start talking again, to take classes with a speech therapist, and the oral for someone who has never heard, or heard a voice for a long time, it does not represent more.
Reading on the lips is something complicated, especially when talking with a bearded man. It may happen that we ask to repeat, to be sure to have understood. But, dear hearing people, it is useless to SPEAK LOUDLY while repeating! We are deaf by definition, we do not hear you. 🙂 Exaggerating the joint, does not help either because it changes all our bearings. To help us, you just have to repeat your sentence by speaking more slowly.
How do you as a deaf person to communicate with hearing people?
Personally, I speak but we can also use the screen of our phone to write messages.
And to talk on the phone?
I can not. But I use a lot of sms, or so I use videoconferencing, but on mobile phone I can use it only with people speaking in sign language, the screen is too small to read properly on the lips. Finally I write a lot of mails and handwritten letters, but that’s just because I’m a weird girl! I really like the romantic side of the handwritten letters.
I wrote this article because I was frustrated by the reaction of the person I am talking about in the introduction, but I hope it will help you understand us a little better.
Dancing and being deaf is not incompatible. Of course I do not hear the music, but I feel the vibrations, which gives me the rhythm and allows me to dance just as well as a hearing person with equal talent. (here, « equal talent » means poor talent)
I don’t claim to have an incredible skills, but even if it means post a video, I wanted to post this one. It was a few weeks ago for an amateur contest, my very first. My boyfriend had to participate with his usual partner, but she had twisted her ankle the week before, I had to replace her at the last moment. We only had a few days to rehearse, it was intense and the result was not perfect but it was an amazing experience. Moreover, with the presence of all our friends and family to support us, it was a memorable memory.