Camera Shy

The dogs were having such a great time in the snow this morning, I decided to “dash” inside to get the camera. (At least I did a “dash” for one such as I!) By the time I returned, they were still “throwing snow” at each other so I quickly turned the camera on and began taping.

Yeah. You guessed it, I’m sure. My kids tell me the camera makes a beep when it starts taping. Perhaps that was their “cue” to stop acting so darn cute! Regardless of the “how”, they did put an immediate stop to their antics.

Documented Proof

The dogs were having a great time skidding around in the snow – true. But I’ve also been trying to surreptitiously document how incredibly nutty our puppy is in the snow! He’s an “arctic dog”, and honestly I have to force the little booger inside when the temperature drops below freezing. As it is, when he is tired, he tries to find the biggest patch of snow on which to nap!

I thought I had a perfect “Kodak moment” (or maybe candid camera?) when I sneaked the camera outside. Turn the silly thing “on”, and the dogs slid to a halt. Sigh. We adopted Tyco from my trainer who also does Norwegian Elkhound rescue. I’ve also wanted to tape and document how happy Tyco is with our family, and how perfect a “match” he is for our family. Now Pat will have to take my word for it! Grin.

Invisible Disabilities

This need for “proof”… finding a viable way to show something was true above and beyond the value of my “word”, reminded me of my deafness is some ways.

I get some “flack” for wearing my hair up which allows both my hearing aid and cochlear implant to be visible. I’ve had some culturally Deaf folks give me “heck” for not only choosing a CI, but for wearing “bling” on the device as if I were proud of it – as I am! I’ve had late-deafened people question my sanity for choosing to make something visible that doesn’t need to be. Some try to “blend in” and “look like everyone else”, desperately hoping their hearing loss does not interfere with relationships, a job promotion, or other’s perceptions of their abilities.

I suppose in the beginning I was the same way. I didn’t deliberately TRY to hide my hearing aid, but my hair is long and it did the trick without my trying! However, there came a day when my hearing loss changed from “moderate” to “severe” to “profound”. Speech reading is not an exact science, and my hearing aids were no longer giving me any benefit. I was “missing things”. If people were not aware that I had a hearing loss, they did not know to get my attention prior to communicating with me. I said things at inappropriate times (and still do), or missed what the topic was that was being discussed. I decided to try to make my hearing loss more visible. I did this to help both OTHERS, and myself! I wore my hair up, and wore a magnetic badge that said, “Please Face Me. I read lips!”

After I received my cochlear implant, I decided then and there that I was going to continue to make my invisible disability – visible. I wanted “proof” that I had a hearing loss. I was tired of being misunderstood, or labeled as slow, stuck-up, or mean. My CI allows me to hear voices really well (although I still benefit from a person getting my attention first), but I still miss a lot of things to in crowds and big cavernous locations like malls, restaurants, arenas, gyms, etc. I wanted to SHOW my ears and technology, as a reminder that in many circumstances I am still deaf!

For those who don’t know me, my visible technology lets them know I hear differently. A little patience and good communication skills will insure we communicate just fine. Chloe actually “shouts” the fact that there is something different about me anyway! Everyone notices her FIRST. They “mosey over” to read her vest and THEN look up and check out my ears!

For those who DO know me well, I’ve found my “visibility” reminds them I am still deaf “in spite of” my cochlear implant. We had a fire inspector come and test the alarms at our school a couple of weeks ago. My director planted herself right next to me, as I think she was afraid of what Chloe may do. She didn’t want me “falling down” on her “watch” – smile. When the alarm went off Chloe cocked her head and listened. My director explained that there was a voice as well as the alarm. (Evidently, it explains the emergency and instructs people where to go?) I was talking to Chloe to keep her calm (as she was visibly shaking), and I kept an eye on the blinking lights of the strobe section of the alarms set in the hallway.

Later at lunch, my son found me and asked out of concern, “Gee mom! How did Chloe do during the fire alarm?”

I proudly explained how she remained calm and sat in heel during the entire thing. I told him how the director of our school came to stand next to me to “help if needed”.

Chris contemplated that a moment and then said, “It’s a good thing you wear your hair up so those of us who know you remember you still are deaf! You act so normal now!”

(So pre-implant how does that mean I behaved? Gulp!)

Denise Portis

© 2009 Hearing Loss Journal

2 thoughts on “Camera Shy

  1. I understand the desire to make a disability visible–mine are “invisible” too and it’s not nice hearing “you look fine to me”. Having a huge dog cuts down on alot of that!
    Seriously, when people realize right away that you have some difficulty with certain things, most cut ya alot of slack, and are much more polite.
    that Chloe is soooooo good and calm! Kenai’s crawl out the window if we tried a fire alarm just yet. He has to become an old fart first…grin.

  2. That was fascinating. When the tape began I just assumed that your CI’s were “on”. So I heard the phone ring and ignored it. But Chloe looked so concerned! Like, “Uh, Mom, why aren’t you doing something about that?”

    Too bad they stopped playing when you taped – they’re such great looking dogs :0)

    I’m with you regarding making the disability visible. Tate’s HA and ear mold are both bright blue! And I keep his hair quite short… I just like short hair on boys anyway. But I think it helps. People notice his HA right away… you can’t miss it.

    And Tate is not the least bit self-conscious about it. That may be the difference between a kid and an adult… well, some adults! My aunt always concealed hers – clear ear molds, let her hair grow down over her ears.

    I love that Tate doesn’t mind explaining about his hearing loss. Hope that doesn’t change as he hits adolescence.

    And, Denise, great attitude – as always!

    I want people to know about Tate’s disability so they can cut him “appropriate” slack :0) He needs people to face him when they talk, to repeat things sometimes, or to restate them. That’s all very reasonable!

    Keep spreadin’ the word :0)

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