Hard of hearing

On alert

erdmaennchen-sei-wachsam.jpg
Source: https://pixabay.com/de/erdm%C3%A4nnchen-tier-wild-tierwelt-255564/ Lizenz: CC0 Public Domain / FAQ

Recently, someone advised me to try something. After exhausting conversations, or after a strenuous day, to switch off or even take out my hearing aids from time to time. I might be able to create a little peace and rest for myself.
Since I know the advisor and I’m always open to good advice, I’ve tried her advice a few times and have noticed that this doesn’t work for me. But hey, if you don‘t try it, you don‘t know it, right?!
In practice, it turned out that when I don’t wear my hearing aids or when they are not switched on, my tinnitus (ear noises) gets louder and the noise in my head becomes even louder instead of less.
Furthermore, I feel insecure and restless because I am constantly looking if someone wants to tell me something. Even when I’m home. Apparently I have adopted this “alertness” in such a way that it appears automatically, except when I am very deep in my thoughts or reading.

When I read, I am usually so relaxed that my “alertness” also takes a break. Same thing happens most of the time when I’m outside.
Here in my residence I know a lot of people nowadays and when I am outside or when shopping, it can happen that I meet acquaintances. When I am travelling alone, I am usually so deeply absorbed in thoughts that I often hardly notice my surroundings consciously. It has happened quite often that I passed an acquaintence without greeting her/him because I didn’t see her/him. I don‘t do this on purpose, but because there is so much noise outside, I have become accustomed to retreating into my quiet thoughts. You could see it as a kind of self-protection. Only traffic has my attention!

Even when I travel with others, I concentrate so much on the conversation that I am also less aware of my surroundings.
Sometimes weird situations can occur. So last week I went shopping in the neighbourhood and was asked for directions by a passerby. Distracted as I was, I saw an acquaintance in the shop I had not expected there anyway and only after a short time I became aware of who she was. We had a short chat and went on. On the way back, I bumped into a second acquaintance whom I had not seen for a long time and was not able to classify immediately. Everything cleared up quickly and after a nice conversation we both went our way.
After such situations, I always decide to stay “alert” when I’m outside. But it means for me that I have to turn a button in my head, from calm thoughts to vigilance. And vigilance means a little more effort again. It’s the art of finding a good balance.

My head really only gets empty when I go walking with my Nordic Walking sticks. We live near a river and I like to walk a certain distance along the river and back. The chance to meet an acquaintance there is minimal and I leave my mobile phone at home. Enough time to think, to let go, to enjoy nature and the encountered animals. My experience is that when I walk for an hour, I’m much more relaxed than when I turn off my hearing aids. That’s why I think that everyone should develop his or her own way of relaxing in order to take a break of alertness. This is important for everyone, but especially for people with hearing impairment.
But don’t be surprised or disappointed in case I pass you by without greeting you. Then I’m just shut down again! Don’t hesitate to alert me in that case.

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CI, Hard of hearing

Practical

tools-1652427_1920Source: Pixabay

Dear readers, you have read almost 75 blog posts about my experiences with hearing impairment in everyday life. In this contribution I would like to turn things around.
I’ve been thinking about writing a book for quite some time now, where I’m collecting tips and advice for life with a hearing impairment. These tips and advice should be practical and applicable in everyday life, with the aim of making us in our hearing impaired everyday life more self-confident.
Of course I can draw extensively from my own experience, but I am not alone! I could really use your support here.

You may think of situations that happen in every day life and where we, hearing impaired people, have a bigger challenge to find a solution. I will explain this with a few examples.

Household
How do we deal with our hearing impairment in the household? What do we do if we don’t hear our cooking alarm, doorbell, alarm or washing machine? Do you use accessories, your partner (or other family members, relatives, roommates)? Or have you found your own, different solution?

Outdoors
How do we deal with our hearing impairment outside our home? In the Netherlands, for example, it is possible to bring an interpreter with you on a birthday party. What solution do you have for celebrations, theatre/cinema/restaurant visits? What works for you and what can you recommend to others?

Doctor/Hospital Visits
Or for your visits to the family doctor and hospital? Do you bring an interpreter or do you use additional equipment? Or do you have another solution that works?
I mostly use my Rogerpen myself and it works fine for me. But how can we communicate if we have to stay in the hospital?

Job
How do you deal with your hearing impairment in the workplace? Have you informed your working environment? Do you need special accessories? Has your workplace been adapted, and if so, how? How does your communication work in the workplace and what can you advise others to do?

Sports
Do you have special solutions for sports, so that you can do your sport well? If so, what solutions have you found? Or do you do yoga (or any other sport) for the hearing impaired? And what to do about wet hearing aids/CIs in sports?

It is well known to us that there are various challenges in everyday life for the hearing impaired. But what interests me is how you, dear readers, deal with it. I’m not talking about complaints, but really about useful and practical tips.
Have you perhaps found solutions that could help others to help themselves? Then I would particularly appreciate it if you would write to me (renee.iseli@hispeed.ch).
I am looking forward to your feedback and who knows, maybe you will be mentioned in the new book!

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Hard of hearing

Strength or Weakness?

Stärke oder Schwäche
Source: http://www.dreamstime.com/photos-images/strength-weakness.html#details50804553;ID 50804553 © Rawpixelimages | Dreamstime.com

As you probably know, it is important in an application process to list and analyse your strengths and weaknesses. I will illustrate this with a small example: One strength could be that you can plan and order very well. Perhaps a weakness could be that one plans and organizes so well that one can improvise less.

Now I had a discussion today whether in such a strength – weakness analysis a hearing impairment should be listed under weakness. My interlocutor (hearing impaired) was of the opinion that it should be classified as a weakness. I believe that it should be classified under both.
Of course, I do understand the view of hearing impairment as a weakness. Impaired hearing can affect the functioning at the workplace. Communication with colleagues, for example, is not always easy and then you quickly become a loner instead of a team player. You always have to take into account when communicating with someone with impaired hearing, and conversely, a person with impaired hearing always has to draw attention to his or her hearing impairment, which can sometimes be frustrating for both of them “Do you still not understand me?“ “Do you still don’t know now that I want you to speak clearly?”

Why do I still see a hearing impairment as strength then? Because a hearing impairment usually motivates the affected persons to give their best! Precisely because they hear less or nothing at all, they are more aware of the importance of good communication and make more effort themselves.
And I even dare to go a step further: Hearing impaired employees generally perform better than their peers! They are more concentrated and distracted less quickly, which is usually good for productivity.
Of course, I am aware that you have to take more woring time to communicate with the hearing impaired and that there is a greater risk of misunderstandings, which could be called weakness again. But if a normal hearing colleague for example, is a chain smoker and goes out to smoke several times a day this also consumes working time, but is considered normal.
That many hearing impaired people have to fight their way through life because of their impairment and, despite many high mountains, are able to assert themselves in their own way, I find again a strength that is too little noticed! Impaired hearing has in many cases influenced character traits such as assertiveness and to know what you want. There’s a lot more at stake here than just not being able to make a phone call. In an application, there is often still too little focus on what you can do, but on what you cannot do. Isn’t that why people with impaired hearing find it so difficult to find a job, even though they might be better qualified, only because they can’t hear well?

Now I am curious to see if there are any other opinions or arguments that can list a hearing impairment as weakness, strength or both. If so, as I suspect, I would like to ask you wholeheartedly, dear readers, to share them with me!

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Hard of hearing

Balance

A tower of wooden building blocks
Source: freeimageslive.com/galleries/workplace/education/pics/stack_of_blocks.jpg

Today it is a grey, wet autumn day, a day you would like to spend in bed under the blanket with hot cocoa and a good book.

However, I was at the gym this early morning and at the end of the morning, I did shopping, drinking coffee, answering urgent questions per e-mail, cooking, eating and then already another half day had passed.

Although I still had some muscle ache from the gymnastics last Thursday, it felt good to be in motion again. We did some balance exercises, which I usually find a little hard to do. Compared to the past, my sense of balance has become noticeably worse as my hearing deteriorated. I don’t feel safe on a staircase I can’t hold on to anymore. Or on a high balcony without good security and even in the mountains I don’t dare going too close to the edge.
It doesn’t take much to get me out of my (physical) equilibrium and since I don’t like to fall, I have become a little more careful.

In today’s gymnastics there was a certain exercise where a good balance is very important. You put one leg forward and then get in your knees without leaning on the ground with your arms. You understand, I’ve had a hard time of doing this. And one side is even better than the other. My gymnastics teacher told me to do this exercise every day. And please do this without hearing aids, so that the balance is even better, she said!

Hm, if I really want to, I can be a disciplined person, but such exercises are for me doomed to fail! Even if I start at good will, it doesn’t take much to disturb the regular excercise.
Since I have back and hip problems, daily exercises to strengthen and loosen up the joints are anyway very good. Just 10 to 15 minutes a day… It can’t be that you can’t find the time, can it?! The presumed reason probably has to do with the fact that it does not come from the heart, but because I have to.
Well, if I think about it right, I don’t go Nordic walking very often lately, although I like to do it anyway. Now Nordic Walking in the rain, heat or snow is not a real pleasure for me and I admire the people who don’t want to be deterred from the weather, but unfortunately I don’t belong to this group.

But no matter what the real reason may be, it doesn’t stop me from trying again every time good hearted. So, I remain optimistic and will tomorrow .. oh, but tomorrow I have to go to the elderly home to read to my group. And on Thursday, I’ll have gymnastics again. Then I won’t start until Friday then. To be on the safe side, I will check my calendar first to see if I have something else planned for Friday morning …

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Hard of hearing

Seasick

Seekrank-pixelio         IMG_0183
Urheber : Patrick Guenette                                                                                                           Source: Foto Author

Last weekend we had actually planned to take a trip on a steamer at Lake Lucerne. We very much like to do that and are even members of the „steamboat friends“. A trip on a steamer is very reassuring. The cadenza of the ship as well as the landscape passing peacefully are wonderful.
Before you think that I might be promoting Swiss tourism, such a trip on a steamboat can also be very adventurous! We once experienced how a powerful Föhnstorm swept away the dishes and almost also the people on deck. What surprised me was that I didn’t become seasick. Since my sense of balance doesn’t work so well due to the hearing impairment, I would have thought that the high waves could actually cause a sea sickness, but nothing like that happened. Now of course I don’t know what happens on the open sea, but somehow I have the feeling that seasickness won’t catch me so quickly.
On the contrary, turbulence in the airplane or a lift that goes down quickly. Especially open lifts frighten me. I don’t want to see me being pulled up in a cage! Not to mention these lifts, which you sometimes see in movies: glass lifts on the outside of the building! Brr, no, no fun for my stomach.
Even with the turbulence in the airplane my stomach sometimes has a hard time (as if you’re standing in an elevator lift), but fortunately I’ve never been sick.

I remember it well the first time I rode in a chairlift. You have to pull the pole down quickly and get out quickly, but also not too fast…. I was scared to death even though my father sat with me.
For me it is almost unbelievable that I have now even gone up and down with skis under my feet in such chairlifts during the skiing holidays! And that without my stomach resisting it.

Of course, when I ride up with the Mountainbahn, or when I go up or land on a plane, my ears can feel it. My sensitive ears immediately feel the pressure(in)balance. If you add a wide view, such as the new Stanserhorn cable car, a cable car with only glas walls, I find it very exciting! Or such a movable suspension bridge at great height, for some the summit of fun, for me a big challenge.
Even if I don’t miss out on such activities and have survived them well so far, such a reassuring steamboat trip has a great attraction for me. Partly it is romantic nostalgia to know just how our ancestors moved, partly it is the fascination of the well-maintained machinery that still works perfectly after so many years and partly the calm on the water, only now and then interrupted by the ship’s horn. No hectic, no stress or noise.

Unfortunately we couldn’t make our planned boat trip on the weekend because the weather wasn’t good enough. After all, we also want to see the mountains. In good weather, we’ll catch up soon!

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Hard of hearing

Humour

humor-ist
Source: http://www.123gif.de/fun/gif-ski-0017.gif.html

A lot can be said about the bureaucratic authorities, but one thing you normally don’t hear is that they have a sense of humour. Now humour is a matter of taste, but with a little imagination you can also find humour in these institutions. The following example shows what I mean.
This is what I saw today. A deaf client has written to the Dutch authority UWV (institution for the unemployed and ill people): “Hello, I am deaf and need a sign language interpreter”. The instance’s answer: “Why don’t you call than?” Or a message from the same authority to a Dutch foundation for the deaf: “Have you already called 0900 9294? We can’t access files on Twitter. If you call us, we can do more for you.”
Personally, I find these examples funny, because of their boundless stupidity. At the same time they are also deeply tragic! It is particularly bad that such stupidity comes from these very institutions. It shows all the more how we, hearing impaired people, do not fit into the rigid rules of the institutions, but on which we are largely dependent.

People with impaired hearing generally have a lot to take in. A joke about communication difficulties is quickly made. Or you have to put up with remarks like “Oh, you don’t hear it anyway”. Most of the jokes or remarks are made without further consideration and, although I have the opinion that you cannot be hurt without allowing yourself to be hurt, they can sometimes be painful, especially when it comes to losing the hearing ability of a person with impaired hearing or hearing loss.
But, on the other hand, I can tell you that it is also possible to make fun of good hearing people in sign language!
In the meantime, I have developed a thick skin and prefer to laugh at „hearing“ jokes. After all, you have to be able to laugh at yourself, don’t you?! Unless the jokes or remarks are deliberately mean and hurtful. Luckily, I haven’t experienced that yet. In that case, I really would have something to say!

Jokes might not get through to people with impaired hearing because they don’t understand the joke or understand it too late. Look at the speech tempo of many cabaret artists … The tempo is usually very high: they want to make as many jokes as possible in a short time. And, I confess, most of the time they are quite right. If you would tell the jokes at a slower pace, there would be little left of the joke.
It is also well known that cabaret artists usually use weaknesses as the starting point for their jokes. In my time as office manager of a theater, I saw many cabaret artists passing by and it seperates a good one from a bad one, who‘s jokes can be sharp but never hurtful. Of course, there are certain limits that cannot be crossed, but a good cabaret artist can look for the range of these limits.
There is also an American TV series, for example, in which there are occasional jokes about a deaf actress. This deaf actress herself also gets ample opportunity to make fun of herself and other goodhearing people. I don’t find that disturbing. Whether you like the humor in this series or not, it’s not hurtful because both sides have fun.

Unfortunately, there is often a great deal of mistrust on the part of those with impaired hearing. In the workplace, for example, a deaf person may feel excluded when colleagues laugh about something. The idea that she, the deaf colleague or the deaf colleague, is laughed at, even though this is usually not the case, can quickly arise.
For us, the hearing impaired, it is of course sometimes difficult. Nevertheless, I can recommend everyone: life with an impairment is often serious enough, so take it with a little humour!

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Hard of hearing

Animals communicate too

tiere_und_menschen
Source: D 42955026 © Iguanasbear | Dreamstime.com http://www.dreamstime.com/stock-illustration-blue-cat-communication-bubble-clear-image42955026

A cat that communicates in sign language with its deaf owners. Don’t you believe it? Then please watch the video! It’s really true.
Sync by honeybunny www.heftig.co/tauber-mann-katze/

Who says that animals are stupid is wrong, as the video here proves.
Of course, I don’t know to what extent the owner taught his cat to sign, but only the ability to acquire it shows that animals are anything but stupid.
A deaf woman has also taught her cat sign language, read it for yourself at http://www.hearzone.net/menschen/unterhaltung/2180-gehoerlose-frau-lehrt-ihre-drei-katzen-mit-gebaerdensprache

As I mentioned in a previous blog, my own cats had the ability to wake me up in the morning, even though I didn’t hear the sound of their meowing without hearing aids. They did not use gestures, but had their own methods to attract my attention.
Like humans, animals communicate not only with their voices, but also (and mostly above all) with body language. Think of the old saying:”Barking dogs don’t bite”. Well, that’s generally true. But we all know that a dog that growls, has turned its ears backwards and looks tense, is ready to bite.
But what is less well known is that cats hardly meow among themselves. The body language is usually sufficient for communication among each other. They learned to meow especially for communication with their people.
The fact that some animals, like this cat in the video, go so far as to learn signlanguage to be able to communicate with their humans, probably shows how important communication is for animals too. And most of the time the animals are probably as clear as humans. A cat with a hunchback, her tail and ears cleaned up to the back is hardly misunderstood: she certainly does not want to be stroked!
Then of course there are the animals that can actually speak, like parrots. We learn them words, they repeat it to us and we find it sweet. I honestly don’t know where this ability to speak parrot comes from, but the fact is that most animals like to communicate with us. And even if we don’t understand “catty” or “doglike”, we usually know exactly what our dog or kitten wants from us.

And that’s just what I love about animals. They do not make the high demands we place on ourselves, but are satisfied with our attention, care and love. For me there is hardly anything more beautiful and relaxed than a satisfied purring cat on my lap. Even though I hardly hear the purring, I can feel it clearly.
On October the 4th, it was World Animal Day, a day when we can think about our behaviour towards the animals (and vice versa) and you just read my little contribution, but it should be World Animal Day every day!

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