Hearing impaired individuals such as myself can choose to advocate for themselves, seek assistance from their loved ones and from doctors at times in order to navigate through a world where those with normal hearing often are not sensitive to or compassionate towards them. Like with any disability or impairment, doing something as simple as requesting accommodations at your job, such as asking for a quiet place to work, can bring a lot of resentment and bullying from co-workers who may feel that you are receiving special treatment. If you have an inexperienced or unsupportive boss, supervisor or lead worker, the problem becomes magnified especially if they want to please those who are complaining.
I was trying to find a quiet restaurant to go to with my husband on a date night yesterday evening. While he wanted to go to The Ram, I declined going there because I find it too loud and then we wouldn't be able to have much conversation. So we decided to check out a new restaurant by our home. The cement floors must have added to the acoustics of the place because it was so loud, I wanted to leave as soon as I walked into the place. I decided to give it a chance and sat down in a booth with my only hearing ear out to the waitress. At one point, it sounded like a lawnmower was coming through the place. After a few minutes of trying to deal with that sound, I decided I had had enough. So we left and went to Duke's Chowder House which has a nice quiet ambience. Though it is a little pricier, I was willing to pay the extra money to be able to dine out and have a conversation with my husband. Sure, we had a really loud woman sitting at the table next to us, but overall, the experience was pleasant.
Though I have some really good hearing aids, most people don't understand that wearing hearing aids isn't like wearing glasses for those with visual impairments. You can't all of a sudden hear well, especially in a loud, noisy environment. I have worked with co-workers who have mocked me by becoming louder after I have asked them to quiet down. They probably feel that they shouldn't have to change who they naturally are.
My husband gets tired of having to repeat himself and may accuse me of not listening to him but on the whole, he is pretty good at hearing and speaking for me when we are out in public in noisy places. Given my hearing loss, those with high-pitched voices, those with soft voices, those who mumble, and those with accents are extremely difficult to hear. If there is a meeting going on, I am not capable of having a side conversation at the same time. If I am on the phone with someone, I am not capable of hearing anything someone else who is trying to tell me even if they are standing right by me. I've gotten accused of ignoring people, of being stuck up and of many other things because of my hearing impairment. I bump into people more often and get startled more often because I can't always hear people approaching me.
When I first lost my hearing, it was one of the worst experiences in my life. Being someone who listened to people for a living and whose passion is listening to and making music, losing my hearing was depressing to say the least. While I have decided in my soul to continue to persevere and explore my own resiliency in order to inspire others and get on with living, I have found that the lack of compassion from those with normal hearing has been the biggest stressor in all of this. For this reason, I am recommending that those who wish to have more compassion for the hearing impaired read the excellent article below that explains while those with hearing impairments struggle in noisy environments. I know that for me, it is like swimming against a riptide: