Below are three things I learnt by the time I was ten, and how three separate people showed that they either didn't learn them or just forgot that they existed for a while.
Lesson #1 - Always face people when you are talking to them.
Okay, so some people would argue that being only partially deaf doesn't affect me in day-to-day life. And hey, maybe that's true some days. But it does affect me.
The best (or possibly worst) example of this was back in February. February 12th, to be exact, when I went to the hospital after a fall. It was busy as anything because it had been snowing and, just like me, most of the people there had had snow-related accidents. Some were older, some were younger, and some had the same sense of chronic clumsiness that had landed me in the hospital's Accident & Emergency department at around 6pm that night.
Basically, it was really busy. And with really busy comes noise.
I managed pretty well, for the most part. The person signing me into the department made it easy for me to see their face so I could work out what they were saying. I got to sit in a chair that I could see the doctors and nurses calling people's names from. Okay, so when it came to my turn, they mispronounced my name so badly that I had to check with someone to make sure it was me they meant (due to the fall, I wasn't able to walk over to ask), but hey, I could deal with that. The doctors and nurses looked directly at me when they were talking to me.
Until it came to telling me how to cope with my injury.
Having not actually broken my foot (only messed up some ligaments), my doctor decided that there was nothing seriously wrong. When I asked him what exactly I'd done and what I could do about it, he turned away from me to rummage through a cupboard before leaving.
I ended up having to find a nurse and ask her for the information - information that the doctor had apparently told me when his back was turned.
Lesson #2 - Just because you think it's funny, doesn't mean that it's a good idea.
The first time I had to tell someone I'd just met that I couldn't hear properly, it was a disaster. By comparison, the jokes and questions I've got every other time since are nothing.
It was my first night out in a new town. I didn't know anyone there except my own family, and I thought that going out might help. I quickly got befriended by a group of girls in the first pub I went to, but it being about 8pm on a Saturday night, the music was already loud and in full swing. Me and the girls, however, were still sat around a table talking. Or, in my case, trying hard to listen.
One of the girls decided that they needed to whisper something to me, and leaned over to talk into my left ear. I shook my head straight away and told her that I couldn't hear in that ear, and asked if there was any chance she could talk in my other ear. She got up and stood behind me.
I really didn't expect her to lean over and shout in my left ear. I don't know what she said, but I know that it hurt.
Lesson #3 - Not everything is about you.
The day I heard about BADD, something very odd happened to me.
I was walking in the town centre, minding my own business. Now, when walking anywhere, I tend to wear earphones for two reasons:
- The music, even if I can't tell what it's saying, generally has a calming effect, which I tend to need in crowded places. My hearing in my right ear isn't brilliant, but it's good enough for me to hear music when it's close to my ear, or if I'm concentrating solely on it.
- They force people to try to get my attention in other ways than just speaking to me. I know when people are speaking, but I generally can't tell who is speaking and if they're speaking to me, unless the person is quite close to me. It might be a bit of a cruel trick, but it works.
I'm walking along, to the supermarket, when this guy started talking to me. I take out my earphones and ask what he'd said.
Him: Are you alright?
Me: *confused* Yeah.
Him: *turns slightly away and says something I don't catch*
Me: Sorry, I didn't catch that.
Him: *repeats what he said (I think)*
Me: I'm sorry, but I'm half deaf...
Him: *backs off quickly*
And when I say he backed off, what I mean is that there was originally about a metre gap between us - and then suddenly it was somewhere nearer to 4 metres. Because, obviously, I had told him this to scare him, and not to explain why I was having such trouble.
As far as I'm concerned, each of the situations I've described above would have been radically different if just a little bit of common sense or common courtesy was used. I could have saved myself, and the poor nurse (who was meant to be looking after another patient), quite a bit of time if the doctor had just looked in my general direction. I would have been in a lot less pain if the woman had just asked what happens when there are loud noises near my ear (or at least, I wouldn't have minded the pain if she'd asked before doing it). If that guy had let me finish my sentence, I wouldn't have spent the rest of that day feeling like a freak.
I've only been dealing with this for about a year, but in that year I've already found that it's the little things that matter, and they're mostly the same little things that I've always tried to do for other people - whether those people have appeared to be able bodied or not.
For a list of all the other BADD posts, go here!