The silent frustrations of being Deaf

Everything in my life has been a simultaneous dichotomy. Okay I’m just going to jump right in.

As I talked about before, I landed an INCREDIBLE job. SO amazing with such amazing people to work with and such an amazing company. I am so blessed an so honored and soo grateful. I literally am FINALLY in the professional world.

Through out ALL my interviews, I said over and over, “Are you okay with hiring a Deaf employee?” Because they needed to know what they were going to be up against. The answer was always Yes! So they asked me what I needed and got all my stuff ready for me before I got to my first day. I needed a caption and video phone for my work cell and I didn’t think about my desk phone because I don’t use a regular phone in my daily life. Getting there on my fist day and seeing both my work cell and my work computer ready to go was beyond thrilling and honestly a new experience for me. I am SO USED to getting push back, attitude, delays etc when I need to request access for anything.

But since I have not been in the professional world for tona long… I forgot about minute things…. such as meetings, the layout of office spaces, many people talking at once.

I was thrilled on my first day, (and everyday since) but I was also acutely aware of how much things were going to need to be tweaked. My hearing aids for one. So I immediately texted my audiologist and said, “Lets get moving on finding me better hearing aids”. Now that I had a real job I was going to be able to work it out easier than when I was dirt poor. She got on it right away and I went the next day to pick up the pair to “test drive” them. I always get so disillusioned when I’m with my Audi. One, because she’s the BEST medical provider I’ve had since all this started. Two: she signs with me. Three, she validates me. So whenever I’m with her, I forget many things. Such as, her office is a cocoon, since she conducts hearing tests, sound plays differently there, and it’s not real life situations or reflections of what I’ll be faced with outside her door. With her signing, I never have to work hard to understand or have a conversation. So, with the new aids, her voice was clearer than any voice I’d heard since losing my hearing. it’s how I remember voices. and let me tell you, it’s been a long time since I’ve really heard voices. Being in her office with these new hearing aids, (Resound model in case you’re wondering) was like OMG… the best Christmas present I could get. She was able to isolate background noise so I could focus on voices. I left on cloud nine. I was able to not be over run by the constant grrr of what I’m assuming was always background noise. I went back to work so happy. Then, I found out that when people talk from another room, where you are you can hear it. so i was suddenly aware that my other co workers were talking in their offices which are on either side of our office. I can’t make out what they say, I was just aware of it which i wasn’t before. After awhile, it was a bit tiring. Fuck that. A LOT tiring. When my office mates would talk, while I was more aware of their voices, what they were saying wasn’t any clearer…and if they looked away or dropped their head…it was all still lost. 😦

My meetings…again, voices that were making sound but made no sense to me. And these hearing aids picked up everything. someone putting their cup on the table, jingling their keys, moving in their chair. the group laughing was a din of dinosaurs all roaring at once. And of course, people talk over each other CONSTANTLY. I was getting so frustrated and mad and annoyed. Not at anyone, well.. at them all for NOT taking turns talking…but at myself, at my deafness and everything that was lacking in those moments!!! I felt like I was trying to climb a wall with one arm and one leg.

I want/ed to cry. Have I/am I losing the rest of my hearing? The tiny 10% I’ve been so relying on? I shut that thought down because it’s too much to deal with. It brings up too many questions. Too many fears.

At first, we all seemed okay if I didn’t get a desk phone, but one of the things we do is take referral calls, which are often times rife with crisis or deep personal information. it’s wearing on my co workers. But I’m part of the team now, so I can help. I can disperse some of that burden. So I immediately go on researching how to get a landline phone that can caption the calls. long story short..it’s not going well or far. AS of right now, it’s dead in the water. So I am supposed to use my work cell with my caption app. Accurate captions are only as good as the caption-er and in one very important call, about 1/3 of the information was missed.

One thing I was able to do with these new aids is be aware of my own voice. I haven’t heard it in so long. I don’t recognize it, it sound foreign and feels like a shirt that doesn’t fit anymore. I don’t think I’m enunciating my words or speaking clearly and that bothers me a lot. I don’t think I’m shouting anymore, but I’m not100% sure of that either.

And I can’t spell anymore, I’m so MAD.

All these things feel like I’m being poked with a 1000 needles and I don’t have enough reprieve in between pokes to even process or recover and file the experiences.

I’ve been at work exactly 8 days. ( I started last wed). I’m overwhelmed. At the end of my days, I’m so exhausted. Listening fatigue is a real thing. And it’s not my JOB that I’m overwhelmed with or upset with, it’s my DEAFness. I know a ton of Deaf people will be pissed if I say that, but it’s MY experience, my feelings and right now, my reality. Here’s that wall…AGAIN!!!! I’m still learning how to be Deaf. I didn’t have my whole life to learn how to navigate a lot of this stuff, I’m having to do it on the run.

I can’t even wrap this up right now with a pretty bow because I’m still in the middle of it. But I know THIS: I’m not going ANYWHERE. I’m NOT giving up my dream. But shit needs to stop for a hot second so I can figure something out, or process stuff. And we need a damn support group right in this town for late deafened people.

My head is spinning, my heart is racing from fear. The good new is, I’ve kept it to myself. I’m busting my ass at work and showing up and working hard. My supervisor has complimented me numerous times, not pity, true legit praise. That helps.

I don’t have the answers right now. But I’m going to process this with my audiologist and rant to my friends and at some point, have the good cry over this that I need to, I can feel it just below the surface. I’m going to watch This Close because it is validation show, it helps me not feel alone and helps me re balance myself as well as gets my fighting spirit back. Thank you Shoshana Stern for that show, I seriously couldn’t face these issues and walls as they come up without that show. It literally helps me.

And then I’ll be okay. Because I’m Mary Fucking Black Bonnet, I will not give up and I will not fail without a fight.

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