Hearing management

05 July 2004

Marissa's third month

Marissa's problems with her hearing aid are something of the past. Read about how things are going.

The problems with the earpieces are now something of the past and I am grateful for this. The new earpieces are thinner, more comfortable and I seem to be able to hear even better with them.

Their sound is nice and clear, even in places like shopping centres. Sometimes it happens that that the sound is very loud and rather disturbing – then I have to tune things down a bit. But I am sure that I will get used to even louder sounds fairly soon.

A new experience I've had, was to get goose bumps from a sound. I've always got goose bumps when someone blows air onto my neck or kisses me on the neck, but I didn't know that one could get goose bumps from sounds as well. I was in the college cafeteria drinking tea and eating pies with friends, when one of them scraped a plate with his knife. I suddenly got goose bumps and realised what a horrible sound it was.

Small irritations
Something else that bothers me is when people drag their feet when they walk – it's as if they're too lazy to pick them up. I realised that I also sometimes do it. I now realise why my mother always told me not to do that. I went camping with friends a fortnight ago and became a real Moaning Minny when they dragged their feet. They threatened to confiscate my hearing aid if I didn't stop moaning about the things they did! I now realise that deaf people often are unaware of things they could do that could affect or irritate hearing people and I know I was guilty of that too. I now watch carefully what I do, and also listen out for those little irritating habits.

The other day I was giving a facial to an elderly lady at the college, when she suddenly started making the strangest gargling sounds. I thought there was something seriously wrong with her and I called the lecturer, who was terribly amused – the old lady had fallen asleep and was snoring to her heart's content.

It's going very well with my speech therapy. Marjan is great and she really helps me so much in learning how to form sounds. There are some sounds I struggle with and we often end up laughing. I would like to hear what she thinks of my progress. I try to speak in full sentences, but sometimes it gets a bit much. But I have to persevere, because by the end of the year I want to be able to speak both well and correctly.

Sneaky move
A great advantage of being able to hear, is that I can hear the approaching footsteps of the lecturer. We're doing a lot of practical work at the moment, and every now and then, when the lecturer is not there, we take a bit of a break. The others used to have to warn me when she was coming, but now I can warn them.

One thing that I find difficult now that I can hear, is that the people around me assume that I must be able to hear and understand everything. One of my lecturers no longer wants to tape lectures for me, but it is still a problem when she mixes her languages or turns her back on me while she is speaking. I missed an important instruction regarding an assignment we had to hand in. I had to explain to her that my brain has to learn to process language much like a small baby does. Even though I can hear words, it doesn't always mean that I understand them.

I try during breaks to sit outside, close my eyes and to try and understand what people are saying around me. I still miss quite a lot. People cannot expect me to learn everything overnight, but they sometimes do get impatient with me. I am trying my best and sometimes their impatience hurts me. I sometimes wish hearing people could change places with me, just to feel what it's like, but I know that's not possible. So I try to live as normal a life in the hearing world as I can. Widex and the hearing aids have helped me a great deal with this. Who knows, there might come a day when I will become completely acceptable to the hearing world.

But I have decided to take on the challenge of living in the hearing world – enthusiastically, if sometimes a bit off key!


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Hearing Expert

Francis Slabber is a Speech & Language Therapist and Audiologist who has owned and run The Hearing Clinic in Wynberg, Cape Town for the last 17 years. Francis and her team have extensive experience in fitting and supplying hearing aids as well as assistive living devices. Francis has served as the Western Cape Chairperson for the South African Association of Audiologists for three years and has given many talks on the topic of hearing loss and amplification. The Hearing Clinic has a special interest in adult and geriatric hearing impairment, hearing aid fittings and hearing rehabilitation.

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