Silly Deaf Moments

I am taking another pause from my story to talk about the amusements of being deaf. I am not saying that being deaf in one ear is funny; it’s not – it can be difficult and frustrating. But, if I am able to see some humour in difficult situations, surely it is much healthier than finding distress in them. This is not always easy, as everything still feels very raw to me, and I am still in the process of accepting that I now have unilateral hearing and am coping with the issues this brings. But I aim to start smiling and laughing more, and to see the funny side in what I have started to call my ‘silly deaf moments’; silly things that happen in reaction to everyday occurrences, because I am unable to hear in my left ear. So, here are a few examples of these ‘silly deaf moments’…

One of the first days after experiencing sudden sensorineural hearing loss in my left ear, I was at work and a colleague called my name. My classroom is connected to another classroom by a sliding door. When this door is open, the two rooms turn into one long classroom. I was standing in the middle of both rooms, where the sliding door is situated; talking with two other colleagues. When I heard my name, I turned around to my right, to address my friend who was calling me. Hmm, she wasn’t there. Then I proceeded to look around in confusion to try to locate my colleague. I was spinning around baffled, trying to locate my friend. After a few seconds I found her. She was standing far across the classroom from me, to my left. By the time I had realized where she was, my other colleagues were giggling at me. I started to laugh too, but I felt bewildered. Why hadn’t my colleague been to the right of me, where I thought she was? – after all, that was where I had heard her voice coming from. I later realized, that since I can only hear in my right ear, my brain now assumes that sound is always coming from my right. So, calling my name from any direction will now confuse me, and I will spend a few seconds scouting the area to identify where the voice is coming from. Oh, and if my name is called outside from across the road or street, well I don’t stand much of a chance of having any idea where you are. It would be quicker to come over to me instead! I actually thought that maybe my brain could learn to identify where noises are coming from; maybe using the tone or volume as a clue. But, after understanding my situation more, I realize that sound localization is the job of two ears, not one.

One day, I was sitting on a seat at the end of a row, on the metro. I was thinking that I could hear someone playing the accordion somewhere far down to the right of the train from where I was sitting. I was sitting and feeling relaxed as I tried to focus on the tune that was being played. I saw a woman opposite me looking at something next to me, so I turned to see what had caught her attention. I turned to my left, to where she was looking, only for me to jump up in my seat and letting out a little yelp; startled to see the accordion player was actually standing right next to me, on my deaf side!

There are moments where I fail to respond when I’ve been spoken to, because people have addressed me from my deaf side. I have been seeing a chiropractor recently (something I will talk about more in future posts) and one morning I was standing in the waiting area; waiting for my name to be called. The waiting area is a small corridor and serves a few small private practices; each one occupying a single room. It was busy, and there was a low rumble of chatting voices. As all the seats were occupied, I had positioned myself so that I was standing near my chiropractor’s door. I had waited a while, and turned around and was surprised to see my chiropractor standing there next to his door, looking a bit awkward. I hadn’t expected anyone to be there and my body jumped up slightly in surprise.  I could see his mouth moving, and as I turned so that my hearing ear was facing him, I realized he was calling my name. I have no idea how long he’d been trying to get my attention! His office was to the left of me, and so I was never going to be able to hear him call my name.

Another time where I didn’t respond was when I was in England and I went to get my eyebrows shaped. I was with my sister in a busy shopping centre in a department store. We were surrounded by a disarray of sounds. There was loud nightclub-style music playing and the sound of people talking too. I was greeted by the lady who was going to shape my eyebrows, and I sat down in the chair. My sister went to look around the shop, and so I was alone with the lady. A few seconds later I turned to my left and realized the woman was talking to me! She looked exasperated and was asking me to sit further back in the chair. I immediately shuffled back and out from my mouth the words, “I can’t hear in this ear!” burst out apologetically. In the moment I felt quite upset, but looking back now I wonder how long she had been waiting for me to move back in the chair. I wonder what she must have been thinking about me when I not only failed to respond to her instruction, but didn’t even look at her for quite some time!

One of the most ironic situations is that of waiting for an appointment with an ENT specialist in the hospital. It is a small waiting area that is usually bursting with people. When you approach the waiting area you are greeted by the loud roar of an industrial-sounding fan. In this waiting area, the sound seems to be bouncing from wall to wall; sounds of the fan, people’s words, shouting from nurses, and the slamming of consultation room doors. The patients sit on the edge of their seats. If the patients have similar struggles to me, I am guessing they are all trying desperately hard to hear the nurse when they call their name above the muddle of noises that surround them. Nobody wants to miss their name being called. Usually the wait to see a specialist is at least an hour and appointments are scarce. This is the chance to speak about issues that may be ongoing, painful, upsetting, frustrating – you don’t want to miss your name being called and miss your chance to speak with the specialist. One day an old lady asked me to tell her when her name was called. I explained to her that I too was also hearing impaired and finding it difficult to hear anything. We both agreed to tell each other if either of us thought one of our names may been called! I wonder why the ENT specialist rooms are positioned in the corridor with the fan. I wonder why they chose such a small enclosed space.  I wonder why the nurses haven’t thought of writing the next patient’s name on a piece of paper which they could then display as they shout the names; so that people with hearing impairments could read their names if they fail to hear them. Or even better, invest in a LED message sign display with the patients names displayed.

More recently, I went for lunch in a restaurant with my boyfriend.  I went to the toilet and was washing my hands. It was a small bathroom, and there were two toilets side-by-side and a sink positioned slightly in front of the entrance to one of the toilets. I was alone in the bathroom…well, so I thought. I spent some time washing my hands and looking at my teeth in the mirror. After a couple of minutes, I thought I saw something from the corner of my left eye. I turned around, and was startled to see that there was a woman watching my sink routine! The poor lady must have been in the toilet cubicle, and was now trapped in the doorway, unable to leave the cubicle because I was unwittingly blocking her way out! I hadn’t known she was in that toilet. I hadn’t heard her open the toilet door. I hadn’t heard if she had asked me to give her space to exit the cubicle. I hadn’t even acknowledged her until the moment I turned around in bemusement!

My life is now full of these ‘silly deaf moments’, and there are obviously going to be many more of them. I wonder when the next one will be, and what will happen?!

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Author: myhearinglossstory

Hi, My name is Carly. I am 34 years old and I am currently living in Spain. I am originally from a small seaside town in Yorkshire called Bridlington, and have also lived in China and Thailand. I am an Early Years primary school teacher, and have been teaching for nearly 12 years. I love walking in the countryside, getting lost in Madrid, going out for breakfast, taking photos, listening to music, storytelling podcasts, baking, running, drinking wine, and eating spicy food. This year I experienced sudden sensorineural hearing loss in my left ear. I have started this blog as a way to inform my friends and family about my progress, for anyone else who is going through a similar experience as me, or for anybody who is interested in learning about this type of hearing loss, and the way it can affect everyday life.

45 thoughts on “Silly Deaf Moments”

  1. Oh I have so many “deaf moments” that I could fill a book. If I could remember them all! A lot of times I’ll hear my husband wrong. It gets quite humorous sometimes the things I hear. Like I heard him say that Jesus was Jimmy Buffet. He really said that Jesus was a Jewish Carpenter. How I got Jimmy Buffet out of that I will never know! We still laugh about that one.
    I am lost if anyone is behind me. Sometimes beside me….it can get a little crazy.

    It’s really noisy in my ENT office too. I tell them they have to come get me. Physically come and get me. Calling my name just doesn’t work. It drives me crazy that I have to remind them over and over to look at me when they talk. Really, am I the only one who comes there who has hearing loss? now my husband always goes with me so he can tell me when I’m called, and listen in the doctor’s office so I’m not so lost.

    Maybe you could suggest to your office about writing the name of the LED display. They may be very receptive. At least have people tell if they have hearing loss when they check in so the nurse calling your name will know that you may not hear it and will put your name on a paper. or something. it’s just crazy that we are afraid to miss appointments at the ENT of all places.

    wendy

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    1. Hi Wendy. Thank you for reading and for the comment 🙂 yes, me and my boyfriend also have some strange and funny conversations when i haven’t heard properly what he’s said! It’s not just my ENT office that is noisy then?! – crazy that there are these type of noise problems in the one place you need there not to be hearing issues!! Take care. Carly

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  2. Hi Carly and Wendy. So far I have 30% hearing lost of my left ear and 20% on my right. In a group situation, I hear about 70% of the conversation. If I missed a key word in a sentence, I missed out the whole meaning. In addition to the keywords, I missed the initial sounds, so that would be added to the missing words on the sentence. If I have immediate noise, sound such as cooking, around me, I could hear what my husband is saying in the next room. My tinnitus is another issue!! I have to do what needs to be done case by case!

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    1. Hello Miriam. Thank you for your comment. It is interesting to read about your experience of hearing loss. Yes, I know what you mean – if you miss a sound in a word/initial sound, then it is very difficult to understand that word…and guessing isn’t always going to give you the right answer! I really struggle to hear conversation when there is any kind of background noise too. It can all be very frustrating. Hmmm, the tinnitus!!! – I am trying to ignore it this very moment! Take care. Carly

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      1. Hi Carly, I appreciate you find humor out of your situation instead of being frustrate about it. For my tinnitus, I sometimes use the silicone ear plug, it seems to reduce the overwhelming explosion in my brain. Yes, I try to ignore it most of the time. You take care also. Miriam

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  3. Carly – I stumbled onto your blog from another hearing loss blog and I can totally relate with much of what you wrote. I’m 33 and lost my hearing suddenly in January 2016 due to an autoimmune illness. Never paid much attention to anything to do with hearing before then, but boy did my life change since then. Connecting with others through hearing loss sites and blogs has kept me from feeling like the world left me behind. Anyway, just wanted to say I think your blog is great and wish you the best of luck in conquering all the challenges that we now face!

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    1. Hello Tony. Thank you for reading, and for your lovely comment. It is so nice to hear from someone who must be going through similar things to me. I still have no answer to what caused my sudden hearing loss, but I am seeing more specialists as I would really like to know the cause. I too had never paid much attention to anything regarding hearing until I lost mine – I have never even had an ear infection! Did you lose your hearing in one ear or both? Do you have any type of hearing device/aid that helps you? I have lots of questions! Are you writing a blog about your experiences too? Yes, connecting with others through blogging is helping me a lot. It is good to know that there are other people going through the same things as us, and that we are not the only ones that this has happened to. Take care, and i hope to hear (oh the ironies of that word!) from you soon. Carly

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      1. Hi again Carly. I would love to compare notes. I’m sure we have gone through very similar situations since losing our hearing. While I know what caused my hearing loss, I don’t yet know exactly which part of my auditory system was damaged. I have an appointment next month with a neurotologist to obtain some further testing- hoping to have an ECochG and ABR done. Although I know my hearing is unlikely to ever be restored; for closure it would be nice to know exactly what has been damaged or is malfunctioning with my hearing. And my hearing loss is bilateral. I lost partial hearing in both ears , it’s considered a moderately severe hearing loss in each of my ears in my case.. My left is worse where I cannot understand a phone conversation if I hold up the phone to that ear. I am currently wearing hearing aids – Oticon OPN which do help, but I think because I’m so used to having normal hearing all my life that I end up comparing to how I used to hear which hearing aids simply can’t replicate. I do plan on blogging about my experiences, but haven’t started just yet. Have you tried a CROS hearing aid system?

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      2. Hello again Tony. I really hope you can have the necessary tests done in order to gain some closure. Losing hearing in both ears must have been a massive adjustment to get used to, and i can imagine how much this has impacted on your life. I am glad you are able to get some help from hearing aids, but understand how it is difficult to go from having normal hearing, to the more mechanical sounds of a hearing aid. Yes, I am trying a CROS hearing aid at the moment (I’ve not go this far in writing my story yet – I’m a month or so behind!) So far, however, I have not experienced good results from the CROS. I am continuing also with seeing different specialists to try and get more answers too. Take care and please keep in touch. Let me know if you start your blog 🙂 Carly

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  4. Hi guys…carly, wendy, mirriam and tony..

    Oh my how do i start?…well i am happy to read this….it gives me so much information about hearing loss…that it could happe anytime to anyone…i will from this moment on value every single sound there is..or maybe take more time appreciating the beauty of havinh complete senses..
    Thank you all for sharing your inspiring stories

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    1. Hello. Thank you for the comment. Yes, please enjoy every moment of sound, and especially the sounds you love – your favourite piece of music, the voices of loved ones, etc. If you ever think you have had some hearing loss, don’t wait to see your GP, go straight away to your local A&E department. The specialists say that the sooner they can treat hearing loss, the better the chances are of recovering some. Take care and have a good day. Carly

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  5. SO TRUE! Being in a waiting room listening for your name to be called is so stressful. Another stressful time is with the dentist. Of course, they and their technicians all wear masks now so you can’t even read their lips. You know how they always talk to each other as well as the patient, I have to take them aside at the beginning and tell them, “if you are speaking to me, be sure you say my name otherwise I won’t know who you are talking to…and speak slowly and distinctly!”

    Kudos to you for seeing the humor in it. In a way, it actually brings a few smiles into each day, doesn’t it?

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    1. Hello Al! Thank you for the comment. Oh, I forgot about the dentist! Yes, the last time i went to my dentist I began by telling him how I’d lost my hearing. He likes to chat and seemed very interested. Anyway, then he put the face mask on a started to talk to me. It was very difficult to hear his muffled voice, but I think I understood most of what he was saying. If I didn’t understand I just smiled and nodded! Then he started to talk whilst cleaning my teeth, and the dental nurse on my deaf side was also talking. I have no idea what they were saying or if they were talking to me or to each other- all I could hear was the sound of my teeth being cleaned! At least I had my mouth open, so wasn’t able to talk back 😛 Take care, and have a good day. Carly

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  6. Haha, you do have some great ones. 🙂 Probably not funny exactly the moment it happened, but funny now. Lol.

    I think you should talk to your ENT nurses about better ways to communicate with their patients. I wonder if they even realize the difficulty you and the others in the waiting room are having?

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  7. I’m glad you are able to find humor in your journey no matter how rattling it might be as you described. Many see such situations as an excuse to give up in life. Thanks God you don’t.

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  8. Jackie was right about your sense of humor and heaven knows you have to have one just to get through the day. Some of these examples sound pretty similar to those I’ve experienced after losing my sight. The one at the ENT’s office is especially bothersome because one would think because this is their area of expertise they’d be more sensitive to the needs of those who have hearing impairments.

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    1. I’m looking forward to reading some of your experiences- i will do so in the next few days. I can’t even imagine how to cope with losing sight…Yeah, you would think specialists in certain areas of medicine would know some key things to help make their patients more comfortable! My sense of humour is developing slowly…But things are gradually getting better and i hope that writing about these kind of experiences can help people understand my situation a bit more, but also see a funny side in things as well. Take care!

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  9. Hi Carly,
    I just found your blog and am finding it very interesting. I experienced sudden hearing loss in my left ear accompanied by tinnitus 10 years ago and have lived with it since. The first specialist I saw first ruled out stroke as the cause, then told me it was hereditary, because my sister also has hearing loss (hers has been gradual and she does not have tinnitus). The second ENT determined that it was caused by a virus (even though I had no other symptoms of illness) and if I had been put on steroids in the first 24 hours my hearing would have been saved. I don’t think either knows
    what happened. I guess it was probably easy for me to accept and learn to live with because I had worked with people with all types of disabilities for about 20 years. Compared to people I knew who were totally deft, blind or did not have use of their limbs this was just a bump it the road. I totally understand all of the difficult situations you describe. I’ll follow along as time allows and be happy to share any tips I think might be useful in dealing with it.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Hello and thank you so much for the follow and comment. It sounds like you had a similar experience to me – they ruled out stroke etc and said it could possibly have been a virus, but that they didn’t know…Then they told me that the steroids could have worked better if I’d had them earlier…There haven’t been any actual answers or ‘definites’ since this happened….I agree, there are worse things to happen. Yet, it is still a difficult transition to make . Do you have pressure in your ear? I have a constant pressure (and tinnitus)…It is worse than the actual deafness…
      Yes,please share any tips – I’d appreciate any help 🙂 thank you. Take care. Carly

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      1. I guess I should introduce my self. My name is Ruth and I live in the USA.
        I don’t really have pressure but I often feel like there is fluid in my ear. Several times when I felt this I had it checked by the doctor who said there was nothing there. I do have the tinnitus constantly. That is definitely the worst part. The only time I don’t hear it is when I am sleeping.
        The only option the doctors could offer was a hearing aid that would direct sound coming from the left side to my right ear. It was expensive and I didn’t think I needed it that bad.
        I tell people only on a need to know basis. My family and people that I spend a lot of time with know, and I have taught them how to help me deal with this. My husband and kids know that they need to be “on my good side” when they are talking to me especially if there is any other noise. We joke about them not wanting to be on my “bad side”.
        One of the reasons I don’t like to tell people about my hearing loss is because I feel that it makes me vulnerable.
        When I first lost my hearing I was home alone a lot, and I was concerned that if someone came to the door I would not hear them, it someone tried to break in I would not hear them, or even my husband or the kids could come in with a key and I might not know it and they could startle me so we decided to get a dog. We now have two dogs and I always know when someone shows up usually before they get to the door.
        I’m sure that not everything that I do will work for everyone in the same situation but if it any of it helps I’m happy to share. I know this is getting long so I’ll write more later.

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      2. Hello again Ruth, and thank you for introducing yourself, and for telling me a bit more of your story. We have very similar experiences. I too, worry about not hearing the door open, and have not heard our intercom ring on a few occasions. Often my boyfriend makes me jump in surprise when he comes into the flat, and I haven’t heard him! I’m hoping that the people who are closest to me will gradually understand how to do simple things to help me communicate, such as making sure they are on my ‘good’ side too. I understand that it can be difficult for those around me to know what to do to help..they also have to learn the strategies, just like me…
        The hearing aid you were offered, sounds like a CROS aid. I have been trying one for the past couple of months. They are very expensive here in Spain also, but I was given three months to try the aid, to decide if it is of any help. (I haven’t got to this part of my story in my blog yet- I’m a bit behind with my writing) Anyway, I read online that about half the people with unilateral hearing who try the CROS hearing aid find it helpful. Unfortunately for me, it has not been useful. I find that if there is a noise next to my deaf ear, the aid will make a high pitched sound – in other words, I will know if there is a noise on my deaf side. However, if someone speaks on my deaf side, I will know they are speaking as I will hear a high pitched ‘beep’ noises for each syllable they speak – I can not distinguish sounds to hear any actual words. I find the high pitched sounds/beeps almost painful and the extra sound makes it more difficult for my good ear to hear…However, I read that some people have a completely different experience to me. Some people have even said they can hear in background noise, and that it’s like they don’t have a ‘bad’ side (deaf side) anymore!
        Anyway, thank you again for contacting me. It is always good to connect with someone who knows what I’m going through. Carly

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      3. Hi again Carly,
        I did find that it took awhile for my family to learn how they could help me but then they began asking me “am I on your good side?” Another way I deal with my hearing loss I guess you could call strategic positioning. This is usually when I am in public and have to sit somewhere (church, restaurants, Doctor’s waiting rooms) I try to find a seat where my left (bad) ear is towards a wall also if possible where my good ear is toward the primary person that I want to hear. For instance if possible in a restaurant I will sit in a booth with my left ear against the wall and my right ear toward where the waitress will approach from.I hope this makes sense.
        I do tend to avoid places with excess noise when possible. A restaurant with 10 TVs plus music playing on top of all the voices is just not a place I need to be.

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  10. I’m glad you shared this. It helps everyone be more considerate and conscious…sometimes people cannot hear you. As in your case. My four year old attends an all inclusive preschool. I was so proud of him the other day as the teacher said he’s been very helpful to the new boy. Then the next day I noticed the grandmother speaking sign language to the boy, so I was even prouder that my son has been showing him around the classroom. I do not know if the boy is deaf as sign is often used for children with speech delays. But I’m glad my son is simply being helpful to the new kid. I also like that his preschool is inclusive and welcomes and educates all children. I’m lucky he has that opportunity at a young age.

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    1. Oh this is a lovely comment 🙂 Young children can be incredibly kind and understanding. It sounds like your son is a lovely little boy. You must be very proud of him. This kind of helpful and thoughtful behaviour is exactly what I try to encourage with the children I have worked with…
      I hope he continues with his kindness…you might even find he learns some sign language. I have had children in my classes who become friends with another child who’s first language is different to theirs, and it’s amazing how soon they manage to learn bits of each others language to communicate with each other 🙂 Thanks for the comment!

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      1. That’s wonderful! I’ll bet your a wonderful teacher, and it sounds like your kids will benefit from your kindness. The manner in which young children try to communicate shows we are naturally curious of each other…and being open to others is important. 🙂

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      2. Thanks Sharon. I love my job. I have been off work for quite some time now, and am missing it so much. I’m hoping to return soon in a less demanding role, to see how I cope with the noise etc..Yes, watching children interacting can teach us a lot about our natural instincts 🙂

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