We Make Do Somehow!

You know? When I find myself sitting around “counting my blessings”, it’s usually because I’m at a low point. Now a low point for me can simply be the result of a lack of sleep!

I was amazed at the results of an impromptu survey I took at the Omaha National HLAA convention several years ago. Ninety percent of those with hearing loss answered that they do not get enough sleep. Most admitted that they need between 8 and 10 hours of sleep a night in order to communicate well. If you think about it… those with hearing loss must be an active participant in “listening”. For most people, hearing and listening is a passive function of one of our main senses. Because I have a significant hearing loss, I know for a fact I burn calories trying to hear! Why doesn’t the scale show that proof? (smile!)

I have, however, had a hearing loss long enough to know that I have learned to “hear” in other ways… learned to “make do”. Oh sure! My cochlear implant, hearing aid, and assistive listening devices help a great deal! But I have also learned to use my eyes to hear better. Now before you think that means that I can speech read… think again. Speech reading is not an exact science! It use to be called “lip reading”, but the politically correct phrase is now speech reading. I use to love to watch the PAX television show about Sue Thomas, FBEye. The real Sue Thomas has the extraordinary ability to accurately speech read. She does so well as a matter of fact, the FBI hired her! But in reality, speech reading is not exact. It certainly HELPS... and combined with other things like technology, listening environment, attitude, etc., it can certainly help one with hearing loss “hear” better!

I do use my eyes to hear better, but it’s not necessarily to speech read. I “make do” somehow! I use my eyes to attempt to discern emotions, intent and attitude by carefully watching the facial expression and body language of others. I happen to have two individuals in my immediate family who can “tease” with a perfectly straight face! I fuss at them all the time! I search their expression to know whether or not something was meant in jest and to “hear” them better.

My assistance dog was sick the past couple of days. Chloe is not my “kid”, but I do love her a great deal! I’m very thankful that my hearing was still “manageable” when my kids were very small. For now that I am deaf… it was really difficult having Chloe sick and not being able to “hear” her. For two nights in a row, she bumped me and woke me in time to only comfort her while she got really sick! So by the third night, I went to bed with a flashlight. Now Chloe is better! Imagine how perplexed she must have been to have a flashlight shining in her eyes every 30 minutes or so! The poor thing hardly got any sleep for two nights… and the third night Denise is on pins and needles shining the light in her face every few minutes! At night I am completely deaf… no sound at all. Normally this means I sleep very well! But if I’m tense because I’m afraid I will NOT hearing something, the lack of hearing anything at night is not a positive! I needed to reassure myself that Chloe wasn’t going to be sick again. I needed my eyesight – with the aid of a flashlight – to “make do”.

Needless to say, I have always been in awe of two friends of mine who live in New Port Richey, Florida. They both have vision AND hearing loss. Yet… they have learned to “make do” too. It would take me 10 paragraphs to adequately explain all the things they do in order to live full and productive lives in spite of a disability X 2! They “make do” very well! (Their guide dogs are spectacular too!)

At Fidos For Freedom, Inc., in Laurel, where I train with Chloe, the clients all have various disabilities. Yet all “make do”. They train hard, and lead productive lives due in part from the assistance they now have from a canine partner. I love that one of Fidos numerous community service programs is called dAp. It stands for disAbility Awareness Program. The program’s intent is to educate others about disabilities, explain what it is like to be a person with a disability, and to increase acceptance of people who may be “different”. I really do believe that even people with disabilities can be very “ABLE”. It is right to capitalize that “A”! We “make do” somehow!

Denise Portis
©2007 Hearing Loss Diary

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