From what I understand, there is a lot of talk in various disability-advocacy groups to change the way people talk about disabilities and disabled people in general. I’m 100% sure I just broke all of their rules with that last sentence, and I DON’T CARE.
I am disabled. I have severe, nearing on profound hearing loss. Unless you have my attention and I can see your mouth moving, I can’t hear you. Sometimes not even then.
It’s fucking embarrassing, actually. It really is. Not being able to hear is the most bullshit ‘invisible’ disability I can think of. Because people can’t see it (unless they really look closely at my ears), they assume it’s not there, or that I’m exaggerating.
I am fucking NOT.
I’ve worn hearing aids since I was 30, and I’d been losing my hearing since well before that. The only reason I got hearing aids in the first place was because I was about to have a baby and thought it would be a good idea to be able to hear it. Otherwise, I probably would have continued to put it off until I had thoroughly irritated everyone by saying “what?”
[Speaking of saying “what?” let me just say that if I happen to mention to you that I am hearing-impaired and you respond with “what?” in an attempt to make a joke, you’d better pray to the old gods and the new that you get me on a good day or I will fucking eviscerate you. Would you limp around the room in a jokey way if someone told you they had a club foot? No, you fucking would not. So don’t come at me with the world’s shittiest non-joke and think I’m going to let you get away with it. I might, but you don’t know for sure, do you?]
So I got hearing aids. I fucking hate them. Like, I really, truly, fucking HATE and RESENT them. I really cannot put it into words, but the day will come when the rest of my age cohort catches up with me and you all have to get them too and THEN WE’LL SEE.
Mine are pink. Because if I have to wear them, then they’re going to be as awesome as I can make them and the company who makes mine doesn’t offer them in purple or sparkles or ones that light up. So pink it is.
Anyway, I call them ‘hearing aids.’ Some of the language surrounding them wants people to call them ‘hearing instruments’ but fuck that. Adding syllables to the term doesn’t make it any better. Hearing aids. Learn it, live it, know it.
I also consider myself ‘hearing-impaired.’ I was recently lectured by someone who took offense to that term. I asked her if she was ‘hearing-impaired’ herself and she said oh no, but that the “community” “prefers” other terms such as ‘hard-of-hearing’ or some shit. Apparently, “impaired” implies damage of some sort and she went on in this vein for awhile but I got bored and tuned her out because what the actual fuck, lady? It’s *my* disability and I will call it whatever the fuck I want. I occasionally refer to myself as a Cute Deaf Lady and hooo boy some of the people don’t like that.
Fuck that. I have to live with it. I can talk about it however I like. It’s mine, I own it.
Also, “community?” What the shit? It’s not like a bunch of people with hearing aids get together and have potlucks and shit. Can you imagine trying to have a conversation at a party like that?
No, I wasn’t born this way. I don’t know what caused it, so we haven’t figured out if it’s fixable. I don’t know if it’s hereditary but I BET IT IS because I come from a long line of VERY LOUD PEOPLE. That probably is a side effect from the giant families both of my parents hail from, where you have to be loud to be heard. So there are probably a few in my family tree who could have been hearing-impaired at a young age, but who the hell knows. We are loud people.
It’s embarrassing, being relatively young and having this kind of impairment. Having a conversation with someone in a loud restaurant is 100% impossible. I usually have Freddie along as my ‘translator’ and he knows when a waiter or bartender is talking to me and I’m not getting it, it’s his job to help out. He does a reasonably good job at this. But when I’m out with other people, I have to concentrate VERY hard and IT FUCKING SUCKS. Lucky for me, my friends know this and most of them get it and I don’t feel weird about asking them to repeat what folks are saying, but sometimes I just want to be able to go out and do normal shit without having to navigate around these fucked-up earholes.
The funniest part of this whole situation is that hearing aids are FUCKING EXPENSIVE and my insurance company (most insurance companies, in fact) don’t classify them as “medically necessary.” That is fucking laughable and 100% bullshit and if you ever wonder why I’m so fucking PISSED OFF about this, THAT IS WHY. The set of hearing aids I’m currently wearing set me back about $6500. And, six years ago when I got them, they were top of the damn line, state of the damn art. They were also obsolete three years ago because the technology moves so quickly. I sent them in just before they stopped product support on this model for a refurbishment in order to squeeze a little more life out of them. I go to my doctor in two weeks to discuss a new set because my current ones have reached the end of the line.
But what about…? But have you tried…? I heard that you could do…
Yes, yes, yes – I know. I’ve tried it. I even went so far as to try acupuncture, which is a thing in which I heartily DO NOT BELIEVE. It didn’t do anything. I’ve tried everything my doctor and I can think of and lots of other things besides. This is just how it is.
And I will talk about it any way I want.