“The thing about hearing loss is that no one can see it. You simply can’t look at a person and tell if they have a loss. Most people are so impatient and they just assume that the person with hearing loss is being rude, or they may even think that the person is slow-witted, when in fact they simply can’t hear.” Marion Ross

My hearing loss has been part of me since I was a small child. I’ve learned to adapt over the years. I watch lips, body language, facial expressions and hands. It is amazing what you can learn about someone just by watching. Sometimes things are revealed to me without the person knowing. When someone tells me something, I quite often pick up undercurrents from the conversation just by watching their lips, their eyes and their body movement. I ask pointed questions and quite often get surprised responses. Several years ago my hearing deteriorated making hearing more difficult than ever before. People think that amplification is the answer to my hearing loss, but amplification does not help. When sound is amplified, I just hear noise and if the noise is too loud my brain becomes confused making lip-reading difficult as well. Feeling deflated when I realized my hearing had deteriorated, I decided I only had one choice and that choice was to adapt and overcome. I make sure I tell people I’m severely hearing impaired so they know that I’m not ignoring them. At work phones became a problem for me, so I signed on to Telus’ IP relay service and now use this service for my phone communication. I’m sure some of the people I’m dealing with on the phone find it annoying but my overall experience has been positive because I think people admire that I’m still willing to try to communicate even though it’s difficult.

Parties, or any event where there are lots of people in a room, is a nightmare for my senses. It can be overwhelming and I have to breathe in very deep and focus on the person I’m talking to. My concentration has to be incredibly focused because of the volume of noise around me. With that much noise around me, it is hard to zero in on the person and read their lips as their voice blends in with the rest of the noise and the sound of their voice is no longer directed my way, overwhelming my senses and confusing my brain. This is where my years of adaptability comes in to play, as I will lean into the person and watch their lips and their eyes and focus as if that person was the only person in the room. Somehow I manage to read their lips and carry on a conversation, something a hearing person has no idea how difficult this simple action is to master. Unfortunately, in this world today people are so impatient and the lack of empathy in today’s society can make my hearing situation very uncomfortable in social situations. The fact that I have to stare at someone so intensely can be un-nerving for some people and it’s interesting to watch people’s reaction to that intensity. Ironically, most people would help a blind man across the street but people, in general, display impatience for the deaf and hearing impaired community. The older I get the less I care what people think about me or my deafness. Some of the rumours about me have come my way; I’m a snob, I’m a bitch and the one that hurts the most, that I’m not smart! I have to admit, the not smart one bothers me because the amount of brain power I have to use every single day just to hear one word that the hearing world takes for granted is significantly greater than most people.

I went through a range of in-depth hearing tests several years ago. Eight hours in a room listening to various sounds and tones to reveal what I knew, my hearing deteriorated to the point that my hearing aids no longer aid my hearing loss as much as they used to. I am a candidate for cochlear implants, the audiologist also suggested that I put myself on a list for a hearing dog. Her reasoning for the dog is that my hearing has deteriorated to the point that I would not be able to hear our smoke detector or carbon monoxide detector should something happen. So far I haven’t signed on for the dog but my youngest son is pushing me to put my name on that list. The audiologist also told me that my ability to lip read is fairly accurate as well as my ability to piece conversations together like a jigsaw puzzle giving me a very high intuition level, higher than the average person.

My youngest son, Matthew, especially takes advantage of my lip-reading ability. He often forgets his water bottle for hockey and in the middle of his hockey game, he will skate by where I’m sitting in the rink and lip to me “I forgot my water bottle.” The boys went to a Catholic elementary school and every now and then I would join their class for their monthly masses, I usually sat several pews back and Matt would turn to find me, catch my eyes and lip “get me out of here.” However, he tells me that it is rude to drop in on conversations when people don’t know I’m reading their lips, a habit I try to curb especially when Matt is around. The lip-reading thing can be interesting as I see and observe things that most people don’t see. The other day I was working out in the gym and a group of six fifteen year old boys crowded the area, so much so that I couldn’t complete my lunges. I left my water bottle on one of the benches as I was planning to work out my arms next, and took my barbell and moved to the other side of the room. As I dropped into a lunge, I noticed one of the young boys was moving toward my water bottle and I read his lips as he was saying to his buddy, “What is this fucking chick doing, she’s hogging this bench and she’s not here.” I walked over to him with my barbell over my head and I said “hey, that fucking bench is mine, don’t even think about taking it.” The look on his face was priceless and as I turned around to go back to my area I smiled and thought “the kid doesn’t know it but I”m just happy he called me a chick and not an old lady.”

This morning while at yoga and doing balancing exercises, my instructor said “you have to find your foundation in order to get to your core.” The core of my being is my hearing loss as it affects every facet of my life. My foundation is my soul as I remain grounded and true to myself giving me the strength to deal with the many different aspects of hearing loss while leaning on the pillars of life.


I just read an article on the internet – Disabled single woman with six children traded her house for a used minivan.  The house was worth approximately $96,000.00 and she traded it for a minivan, worth between $5000.00 – $8,500.00, for the purpose of getting her children to school.    She said that she had better offers in the form of cars that were worth more but she felt the family she gave the house to needed it the most.  Things aren’t as bad as it sounds, this woman bought another house at an auction for $3,600.00.  After I finished reading this piece, I finished cleaning the kitchen which was a  mess from our dinner.  As I was washing dishes looking out the  kitchen window,  I started to think –  traded a house for a minivan and bought a house at an auction for $3,600.00.   The houses I was looking at through my window were all bought  for prices  ranging between $350,000.00 and $500,000.00 depending on the year you bought into this neighbourhood.  Then another thought came to my head – I just bought and paid for hearing aids – $5,000.00.   This woman paid less for her house than I did for my hearing aids – how crazy is that!  We also have a 1977 trillium trailer that we paid $5000.00 for and it barely sleeps four.  This woman gave away a 4 bedroom house for a used mini-van.  Standing there looking out my kitchen window at all of the houses beautifully decorated for Christmas,  I wondered how many people in this neighbourhood have comfort in knowing that their houses are worth more than $500,000.00.  What if things get so bad that we are forced to sell our house for the price of a used mini-van.  Scary thought!  The more I thought about it, the more my house became just four walls.  That’s right four walls, every room in the house has four walls  – that’s all there is to it.  If this house depreciates in value so much so that it is literally worthless, would the house be important to me – I don’t think so,  the livelihood of my children would be the most important thing.  All of a sudden these four walls are just that, walls and roof that gives my family shelter and protects us from the elements.  Sure I like to decorate the house so I’m comfortable and I’ve always held the belief that your house is your castle.  It’s the one place you can be who you are and be accepted.   The more I thought about it the more I realized that my home is wherever I find my family.   The four walls of my house are not my comfort zone.  My family is what gives me comfort.  As I put the last of the dishes away in the cupboard a thought came to my mind.  “It’s a good thing we bought that 1977 trillium trailer because if we ever have to sell our house for a vehicle, I’ll make sure the vehicle can pull our trailer”.   The four fiberglass walls might be my future comfort zone!



This year I joined a women’s hockey league.  I’ve never played a sport in my life and I haven’t skated since I was 8 years old.  Quite the challenge and with my hearing impairment it’s even more of a challenge.  My very first hockey game I had butterflies in my stomach like I was about to go out on stage for a performance.   I got to the rink and met all the girls and they all looked like pros to me.  I wasn’t the only beginner there was another girl on the team who had never skated in her life.   The beginners were put in the position of winger as it’s an easier position to play.  I get out on the ice for my shift I had no idea where to stand or what I was supposed to do.  Everyone was yelling orders at me – go here, stand here, that’s my check not yours, don’t go beyond this line, stay on this side and don’t even get me started about offside!  I managed to skate, I didn’t fall down which was a complete amazement to me.  I quickly started to notice that quite a few of the woman on the other team were huge.  They looked like they were 6’5, they appeared to be giants.  I’m not sure what I was thinking but a woman from the other team was coming down the ice on my side and I decided I was going to take the puck from her.  I skated right at her and tried to take the puck.  Well she just kept skating, never even broke her stride – she skated right through me.  I did this wild imbalance thing, couldn’t hold it, went down backwards flat on my back and  found myself lying there looking at the ceiling.  I was somewhat stunned, but I got up and went right after the puck.  It wasn’t until I got off the ice that I realized both my arm and head were sore.  I was fine and the girls were all saying, “good job”, “way to go”.   I’m thinking, good job, what was I thinking, I’ve just been run over by a train!  I’m slowly getting a little better, I’m hitting more pucks and last week I found myself in front of the net and I actually blocked a shot.  I have no idea how I got in front of the net and I have no idea how I blocked that shot.  My hearing impairment has been embarrassing as I can’t hear the ref’s whistle and I can’t seem to get offside.  I’m always standing on the wrong side of the line and quite often I have my head down.  The refs have all been told about my hearing impairment so they let it go when I don’t get out-of-the-way in an instant.  The girls on my team are starting to think, maybe this deaf chick is a blessing, she doesn’t get penalties for offside!  A couple of weeks ago I found myself in the offside position, I was skating along with my head down and all of a sudden I heard this roar.  When I looked up the  women from the other team were all skating at me shouting “GET OUT, GET OUT”.   For a minute I felt like I was in an Amityville horror movie –   GET OUT, GET OUT.  I still didn’t get why they were screaming at me and I looked at the ref and I thought he pointed at me  so I looked at him and mouthed “who me” all while I was still standing on the wrong side of the line.    Needless to say the other team went nuts and I skated like hell out of there because, quite frankly,  I was scared for my life.  Once out-of-the-way, I realized that I was offside – talk about clueless, not my best moment!  I didn’t get a penalty and I could tell the women from the  other team were furious.  I got to the bench and I said to the girls, “that’s a shift I’d rather forget”.   That game I did accomplish quite a bit, I managed the puck in my end quite well and I even managed a pass to our forward!  This may not sound like much, but for someone who can barely skate – it’s huge!   None of that mattered to me on the way home, all I could hear was “GET OUT, GET OUT” and I kept seeing the look on the ref’s face when I mouthed “who me”.  I thought I’m quitting, can’t do this.  The next day I said to my husband that I was quitting, told him what happened and he said “who cares, keep going, focus on the positive”.  As the week progressed I thought more and more of the positive and less and less about the “GET OUT”.  I played the next week and I did  much better, kept my head up and I manged to get out, a little late, but I managed to get out of the other end when offside was called without the other team yelling “GET OUT”.


Last week I finally got my new hearing aids.  My old ones broke and since they were 9 years old I figured it was time to replace them.  I have sensorineural hearing loss which is nerve damage in the inner ear – both ears.  I started to wear hearing aids at the age of 19 but I should of worn hearing aids through high school.  It’s a wonder I made it through school with the amount of hearing loss that I had at that time.  In the last 10 years my hearing has deteriorated and I’ve been told that one day I could wake up and not hear a thing!  I don’t spend a lot of time worrying about that day, as I enjoy life as is right now.  I bought my last pair of hearing aids right at the time that digital hearing aids were all the new rage.  I had an extremely difficult time adjusting.   Everything sounded so much more precise and crisp to me.  It drove me a little batty so I had the hearing aid specialist program the aids so sounds were a little softer, so I didn’t hear quite as much but hopefully heard all the important things.  Hearing aids typically last 5 – 10 years.  As you can imagine in 5 – 10 years the difference in hearing aid technology is astronomical.  When I got to work with my new hearing aids I could hear every hum and rattle of the place.  After a day of listening to things that you don’t really need to hear, I found relief when I got home by removing my hearing aids –   put my head back and ahhh quiet.  Closed my eyes and just relished in the quiet – couldn’t hear any humming, couldn’t hear the kids, couldn’t hear the tv – just me and quiet!  It’s nice to slip out of reality every now and then and just go to my own world of quiet, where I can pick and choose when I want to hear.  I’m sure most people at time want to have the same experience and they can with ear plugs – just try it and you will find yourself going ahhhh quiet!