The Way I Hear It, humorously composed by the very talented Gael Hannan (who actually contributed to this blog too!) accurately describes my life on a daily basis, living and managing a hearing loss. Anyone who has come into contact with a friend, family member or a stranger with a hearing loss should read this book, including those who have a hearing loss. From dealing with daily internal stress that comes with hearing loss to the impact on relationships, this book explains it all.
According to Gael, the book is a one part memoir, one part survival guide, and one part how to punch hearing loss in the nose. Until reading this book, I actually took a look at myself and realized that hey, there is still room for improvement on my communication strategies or I had an aha moment, where part of the HoH package is to actually accept your hearing loss as a fact of life.
To the hard of hearing consumer: Gael also stresses the importance of developing a strong, collaborative relationship with your audiologists. This is something I need to work on actually. Audiologists have the expertise, but they don't have the experience of what it's like to live with a hearing loss. On that note, I felt myself telling myself to suck it up and be a stronger advocate. If you can't ask for help, then it's your own fault for not asking.
To family members and friends of a HoH: a tear rolled down my eye as I was reading about Gael's relationship with her son, Joel. It was like seeing a glimpse of my future. My relationship with Rachel will, almost guaranteed, be different from most mother-daughter relationships. She will have to abide at least one cardinal rule: to always face mommy when speaking. Gael touches upon relationships with friends, spouses, and even her siblings. When there is any communication involved, there are bound to be issues - some small and some big.
To the strangers who have no clue what it's like to be a HoH: It blew me away (and with a twinge of disappointment) that there are people out there who think HoHs need to use a wheelchair or braille! Fortunately, that's never been the case with me. This book will educate you on the fine points of hearing loss, such as:
HOHs do not equal an inability to walk
HOHs do not need to be treated like a joke (even if we say something funny)
HOHs can enjoy life just like you, just a little bit differently
To camping aficionados: Too bad, too sad. We're going to bed early. Once it turns pitch black, we can't really follow the conversation over the flickering campfire. It's not that we don't want to be a part of the fun, it's just insanely hard. I related to this section in particular - which is why I'm fortunate we (hubby and I) don't mind shining flashlights in each others' faces to see each other. Often, it's see you in the morning when our favorite friend, the Sun, rises.
Gael's writing is humorous, and hits home on some very painful truths about living life with a hearing loss. As a HoH reader, I had to keep in mind that yes, there's things I'd like to fix about my hearing and my life in general. Then again, Gael reminds us that those experiences make us who we are and I wouldn't change my situation because it brought me to my husband. Last night, I asked Curtis a similar question that Gael asked her hearing husband:
Me: Do you think your life would have been easier if you had a hearing wife?
Curtis: Nonsense, not at all!
Me: Why not? You're just saying that to make me feel better.
Curtis: Look, you experience the same things that I experience. You can't always put those into words every single time we encounter a challenge. Having you by my side gives me that much needed support, because hearing loss affects so much in our lives. On the plus side, I love you for who you are.
Reality is, hearing loss is manageable and life can be made easier, with the right attitude and, of course, having a gutsy personality to chase your dreams helps!
Thank you Gael. Thank you.
You can purchase Gael's book online. :)