We’re Not So Different, You and I!

We only have one old dog in the house now. Ebony is a 15-year-old Pomeranian that Kyersten adopted in 2003. Since Max passed away 1-1-08, our only family “old-timer” is Ebony now. I noticed she tends to get special favors from all of us, and if she wasn’t spoiled before… she most certainly is now! Ebony is considered “terminal” and we were told she had months to live about three years ago, and then again about 18 months ago. Obviously Ebony doesn’t listen to the vet!

Ebony is not very dog-like. I suppose I should explain that. When she pants she smiles like a little clown. She doesn’t pant like a “regular dog”. Ebony is a little queen, and has each of her “people family” wrapped around her little arthritic paw. She doesn’t really perform any kind of function. She certainly isn’t a watch dog. She doesn’t chase squirrels. She doesn’t alert. Cripes! The little stinker isn’t even potty-trained! WE are the ones who are trained, and simply take her out at regular intervals. Ebony has an enlarged heart, liver disease, she’s almost blind, she has collapsing trachea, luxating patellas, arthritis and has a “near death” experience if we give her heartworm meds. Yet she continues to enchant us with her regal and haughty attitude.

There are times… and mind you they are very few and far between… that Ebony DOES do something that actually reminds us that she is a canine. If Kyersten is delayed in feeding her, she will sit “prim as a princess” and stare her down. If Kyersten moves, Ebony will bark. Those barks take Chloe completely by surprise. I’ve seen Chloe’s jaw snap shut with a “click” as she is so astonished by that bark!

Chloe will tip-toe over close to Ebony and sort of sniff, Sniff, SNIFF… trying to decide if she really heard that little black thing bark! Then she’ll sit and stare at Ebony as if it has finally dawned on her that Ebony may indeed be a dog. I can almost see her thinking, “We’re not so different, you and I!”

When Chloe gets those light bulb moments about Ebony’s genus and species, it reminds me of the encounters I have with people with hearing loss. In many ways, hearing loss is unique for every individual. No one’s audiogram looks the same, no one struggles with hearing the exact same consonants and vowels in specific listening environments. Everyone seems to have different “additional” problems like vertigo, tinnitus, ear infections/disease, Meniere’s, etc. Different people do well with specific types of hearing aids, assistive listening devices, BAHA’s and cochlear implants. Yet… in many ways we’re not so different.

At the 2007 Walk4Hearing in the Capital area, I was standing against a post beside a woman I’ve never met. She had two slim-lined hearing aids and was about my age. I could only see her profile, and noticed she was struggling to understand someone. When that person walked away, she turned around and saw me standing there. She crossed her eyes with an exaggerated grimace, and said, “Gosh! I hate it when people chew gum!” I had to laugh out loud and commiserated with her!

It wasn’t ten or fifteen minutes later, I walked towards a different shelter closer to the starting line for the Walk. I almost quite literally ran into a mother with three children. I crossed her path just in time to her hear groan, “Please don’t walk away from me when you are talking! I can’t hear your back!” I almost had a fit of giggles all the way over to where my family were waiting for me!

Those of us who have hearing loss are so different in so many ways. And yet… “we’re not so different, you and I”. As a matter of fact, if we actually sat down and listed similarities and differences, I imagine we’d find we had more in common than we thought!

That is one of the reasons why the numerous hearing loss advocacy groups should work together. Yes, there may be differences in that some of us use sign language, while some are only oral. Some may have hearing aids, and others a BAHA or cochlear implant. However, there is strength in numbers. We can accomplish so much more if we pool our resources, efforts and voice to make hearing loss a matter of national concern. Besides… it’s much more pleasant to be on the same “team” than to be fighting against each other! “We’re not so different, you and I!”

Denise Portis
©2008 Hearing Loss Diary

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