Last night our church had a special prayer meeting. I’m always “in” for prayer meetings! I wish we could have them more often than we do. I’ve been a big fan of prayer since about 1993. That was the year I began losing my hearing. Nothing like slowly losing the ability to communicate well with other people, to drive you to your knees to learn to communicate with God. I suppose in many ways, prayer is one of the reasons I do not regret being late-deafened. I’d never want to go back and undo all that I’ve learned about prayer.
My Own Fault
I’ve learned plenty about prayer, but I must not have learned much about asking for assistance in advance! You would think I would learn to ask for help in the right way, and in time to allow folks in charge to be able to assist me! I mean? How hard is it to shoot an email to the pastor to remind him that I’ll need everyone to use the microphone if they speak from the floor?
There were around 20 people there last night. Small groups are something I look forward too. As soon as the pastor saw me he made eye contact and let me know he was going to use the microphone. Whenever possible, he asked folks to come up to the microphone. When he asked questions that required “popcorn answers”, he repeated what they said into the microphone as it would not reach to the back of the group. Sometimes, however, a person answered much longer than what may have been anticipated. The pastor was forced to “interpret” and condense what they said. At certain points, he could tell someone was going to speak longer, or perhaps someone volunteered to pray for a specific need. He asked them to come up to the microphone. (whew). Had I let him know in advance I was going to be there, I’m sure they would have had a cordless microphone ready!
As a person with hearing loss, it is YOUR responsibility to make sure that the people at a meeting you are going to attend know in advance that you will need some assistance in order to hear well. People with normal hearing in a group of twenty very likely do not need a microphone at all. As a matter of fact, I don’t think our pastor had planned in advance to use one because he had to “borrow” one off the musician at the keyboard!
I love my cochlear implant! LOVE IT! It doesn’t make me a person with normal hearing, however! So when I know I’m going to attend something in which I may have trouble hearing, it is my responsibility to give someone in charge a “heads up” that I’ll be there.
Sometimes you may need to attend something in which there is no easy way to offer assistance so that you hear better. (Birthday parties, baby showers, picnics, etc.) We as late-deafened people still have a responsibility to have the right attitude about the activity. Let’s face it! There will be times you simply will not hear well. It’s not anyone’s FAULT… it’s just a fact of life for a late-deafened person. Your responding in a gracious way is the right way to go. Learn to ask people to repeat things the right way. Perhaps that means repeating for them what you DID hear, so that they only have to repeat what you did NOT. It may mean asking to step over to the side so that you are not quite so much in the middle of a lot of noise. It may mean that you are willing to bring a neck loop and/or assistive listening device. Relax, and learn to have fun even if you are not able to hear everything. Chances are the people you are with really care about you. They cannot ever fully understand what you live. Don’t punish them for that!
After prayer meeting last night, I was crying before I could even get out the door. And let me tell you Chloe was having to jog to keep up! I was just so ticked off at myself for having poorly planned, and so disappointed about not hearing very well… I hate crying in public, but gee was I mad at myself! I know better! I’ll do better! GRIN
How to Handle It?
So? What does a late-deafened person do when you’ve alerted a group that can assist in ways such as a cordless microphone being ready, and the group “forgets” or overlooks your need?
A. Continue to remind them, but don’t mention how you weren’t able to participate this time.
B. Express sincere regret at not being able to fully participate and ask if there is anything you can do to make sure assistance is available next time.
C. Knock some heads together.
D. Whine and complain and never return.
E. Pout and embarass anyone in charge with a loud verbal rebuke after the meeting.
Hmm. You know? There may be more than one right answer here and it may depend on your own personality. (Answers C, D, and E are really not great choices folks!) The key is to remember that what you say and how you react may affect how another person with hearing loss is assisted by this group in the future! Lay the groundwork for good relations! Another person with hearing loss may reap the benefits of you having handled things the right way!
© 2009 Hearing Loss Journal