As she is a service/assistance dog, I work hard at keeping Chloe in great shape. I maintain her weight, bathe her, brush her teeth, groom her, and take care of her feet. Chloe is usually fast asleep when I give her a pedicure. I guess she only gets pedicures! She can’t have a manicure being she doesn’t have hands… only feet! Chloe gets her nails clipped and then dremeled, and the hair on her feet is trimmed away to keep debris from getting in her footpad hair, and to allow maximum traction. I “prepare her feet“, because she has an important job.
As a person with hearing loss, I have to “prepare my feet“. I can’t just get up every day, with little to no preparation and expect to function at my best.
I “prepare my feet” by making sure I get a good night’s rest. Fatigue can be a real enemy of a person with hearing loss. It takes extra effort to read lips, “listen”, and communicate. I try to eat right, and eliminate salt and caffeine as much as I can to help me manage Meniere’s symptoms.
I always reflect on communication disasters in order to better prepare for the next problem. To “prepare my feet” mentally, I dissect failed communication situations and attempt to discover what I did RIGHT, and what I did WRONG. I have even role-played with my family members or HLAA chapter members in order to better discover situational communication strategies that work better for different personalities.
“Preparing my feet” emotionally is difficult. I am an emotional person. A true “melancholy”, I have all the strengths and WEAKNESSES of this personality. I remember that by responding positively and with grace, it will normally yield patience and understanding from those hearing folks I’m in contact with each day. I try very hard not to take things personally, and to not live in a defensive and paranoid manner. I remind myself that those closest to me are impacted by my hearing loss as well. I should extend the same grace that I desire from them.
As a person of faith, I am very conscious of how important it is to “prepare my feet” spiritually.
First and foremost, I recognize that God is truly the only one that can meet the needs of this many times self-centered, pessimistic child. I rest in the fact that He alone communicates with me perfectly. I can even remove my CI, “climb up in His lap” and pour my heart out. I “hear” Him just fine and acknowledge that I should read His word daily.
Secondly, I know that just as His Son washed the feet of His followers to show what true servant hood is, I need to “prepare others’ feet” to show that my own spiritual feet are prepared. I want to help people… especially those with hearing loss.
I openly and frankly admit that I often do not know how to do that at this stage in my life. I have a tiny, “baby” HLAA chapter that is struggling due to lack of volunteers. I no longer have speaking opportunities and venues in which to speak to those with hearing loss. And yet…
… doors are opened to me almost daily to reach out in some way. This past week, I’ve talked to a television station reporter about hearing loss, touched base with Walk4Hearing contacts, heard from numerous readers from a “hearing loss blog” network, and while running errands meet individuals who notice my CI bling and ask questions. Being a servant simply means being available. To be available… “prepare your feet“. You will be surprised at the number of doors opened in which you can make a difference in someone’s life.
© Hearing Loss Journal