It Makes a Difference

I recently attended a dog show with my daughter, Kyersten. She was showing her Chinese Crested at the Turkey Cluster Dog Shows over Thanksgiving.

I consider myself a “high achiever” in that according to my hearing tests at Johns Hopkins, I’m a “star pupil” in hearing again.

In spite of how well I hear, I do recognize that there are still things that are difficult for me. Case in point? Dog shows.

Not only is there a great deal of barking going on (which is a percussion type of sound), but it is impossible to understand what the judges are saying. I don’t often admit this… but there are some things a person with hearing loss cannot do. I believe participating in dog shows is one of them. I just don’t know HOW you would know what the judge is wanting you to do if you are struggling to hear. I can enjoy going and watching… but I don’t know how a person with hearing loss could ever actually participate in a dog show!

My cochlear implant makes a big difference in what I am hearing, and even in how I communicate. Some things won’t change though. There will be situations where I still will not be able to hear well.

I hate social functions. You know the kind where the church is having potluck, and everyone comes to fellowship and eat, etc.? I do great at home with my own family now during dinner… no more food getting cold while trying to eat and listen at the same time. But in a more crowded atmosphere, I still have trouble eating and talking at the same time!

Candlelight dinners? (shudder) That’s an activity scary enough to make me feel slightly ill. There is nothing worse than trying to listen with low light!

But you know? There’s not a thing wrong with recognizing what your weaknesses are! We all have them. Sometimes, we are blessed in that the things we struggle to do as a result of an acquired disability, can be done if one “thinks outside the box”. Perhaps an assistive listening device will help. Maybe that staircase is not so terrifying with a hearing/balance dog by your side.

Sunday, I needed to talk with someone in my church. The auditorium has hardwood floors (another acoustic nightmare), so I simply asked the lady if we could find someplace quiet to talk. The coat closet was a perfect location! How simple a “fix” was that?

Yet sometimes there is no solution. It’s OK to recognize that too, as long as you aren’t all bent out of shape about it!

Even people with normal hearing don’t do everything well when it comes to communication. My husband tells me constantly, “Denise! Not even hearing people are hearing well right now!” Said outside a store with a girl scout troop selling items on one corner, and the salvation army ringing a bell on the other!

One person may be extremely gifted in the arts. Another person… maybe in the same family… can’t even color inside the lines of a coloring book! No person does every thing well. A person with added difficulties of a disability should not expect to do everything well.

Me? Well I love to teach. I can only hope that love rubs off on my students, whom I also love. But don’t ask me to bowl. Don’t ask me to dance! Don’t ask me to handle your dog at a dog show.

And that’s OK by me!

Denise Portis
©2007 Hearing Loss Diary

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