Following my last post, (A life of complete silence) I’ve decided to write a bit more about how my life has changed in recent weeks. Its been a very frustrating time, and there have been many moments of where I’ve not been able to see the light at the end of this particular tunnel. There are a few other difficult times going on at the moment, we are having the worst luck trying to sell our house. We are desperate to move, and have been for some time. We outgrew this house when I was pregnant with our second child. Said child is nearly a year and a half now, and as a family of four, we are squeezed into this little end terrace, along with much of our stuff, in a house that also needs a lot of work doing to it. They say that moving house ranks very highly in the most stressful times anyone can go through – do you think that losing a limb, or a sense is also up there? If it isn’t, it should be.

I’m likening some of my experiences to be similar to when people have been hearing and then gone hard of hearing, or deaf later on in life. You get used to whatever you’ve got and when it changes, regardless of what level you were at the beginning, it has a huge impact on your life and emotions. My experience is just at the other end of the spectrum in terms of what has been lost, but I imagine it has a pretty similar.

I feel quite lost at the moment. I’m finding myself holed up more and more at home preferring to spend time alone with my children, or on the computer where it’s far easier to communicate with my friends. I feel like I’m having to learn how to adapt which to me, is annoying. Consciously having to change the way you do many things when you’ve been used to another way since birth, is definitely annoying.

The last three weeks have possibly been the hardest three weeks of my life. There has been no time to get to grips with my new situation at my own pace, life has still had to go on. I’ve still had to be a mother to my two girls, I’ve still had to go to work and earn my pennies. I’ve still had to shop for food, deal with surveyors coming to look at my house and get my train tickets from the station. It hasn’t been just the practical side of things though, its also been the realisation that this is possibly how it’s going to be for the rest of my life. My youngest daughter isn’t talking yet other than the odd “byebye” and “book”, so it breaks my heart that I won’t ever hear her talk. The memory of the sound of my oldest daughter talking is fading fast, although I’ve been rather fascinated with the fact that I can actually lip-read accents. I never knew how good my lip-reading skills were.

I’ve never used my eyes more than I have done in the last 3 weeks. I have been so tired, constantly watching out for things and lip-reading every single person more intently than I did before. My ears were pretty useless before, but now they are redundant, I realise just how much I relied on that little bit of hearing, a hearing aid was able to assist with.

I am extremely lucky in that my colleagues and my boss (who is ace by the way) have been so accommodating. My normal day to day job, requires speaking with the general public and taking down information that legally has to be absolutely correct. As I work in a small office, with a very good solid door, the surroundings are almost perfect for working on a one-on-one basis to do my job when you can’t hear very well. It can be a bit of a pain in the summer, when it’s warm and you want the window open – passing cars create very irritating distractions! But on the whole, it is quiet in my office and I always managed quite well, using pen and paper for those “I am just not getting this” moments.

With no hearing at all, I cannot deal with the public full stop. Even if it wouldn’t be seen as rather unprofessional to conduct every single interview with pen and paper (not to mention time consuming), I can’t see the general public being extremely tolerant of it and anyway, my confidence has been lost altogether. Birmingham is an amazing city. The ethnic race is hugely vast with people from all over the world settling here and consequently having babies, getting married and passing away. As much as I love meeting people from all walks of life, it did mean it was much harder for me to catch on to the names and accents. With no hearing aid to assist me now, I have no “back up”. I cannot simply pick and choose who walks through my door, I cannot do my job.

I have been given lots of work to do that is normally spread out to the staff working in my department. I am dealing with the post, creating spreadsheets and sorting out paperwork. It’s fantastic that my bosses are finding me work to do, and being very understanding about the whole thing. But I’m not happy about the prospect of doing this long term – always having to ask for work once my last job was finished. I like to think I am a quick worker, I’ve always thrived being a working woman. Sure I get days when I really don’t want to go into work and would rather have a duvet day – doesn’t everyone? But ultimately I am a working woman, and I enjoy earning my pennies. The idea of not doing the job I applied for and was offered, the job I have been doing for the last 3 years – is quite frankly going to get me down after a while. I feel really trapped – what am I going to do?

We had a meeting last week. I think I might be the only person on earth who likes meetings. I love the idea of sitting around one large table, and being given a chance to discuss current issues within our working environment and the jobs we do. Last week, I sat for a whole hour – I tried to follow but I didn’t get a word. My boss very helpfully sent me an e mail afterwards detailing the matters that had been discussed, but it’s not the same is it? I am going to need a note taker I think.

I don’t feel like I’m part of the office anymore, socially they are still lovely people but if I’m not doing my job properly – am I really part of the team? I know people understand, but that won’t stop them from potentially getting a bit annoyed on a very busy day, about the fact that there is someone being paid to do a job, but isn’t actually doing it. This is my biggest worry.

Home life has changed in quite a big way. I am getting fed up of not being able to understand the Big One. She is such a dear little girl, her sign language is improving every day but she’s only four – she doesn’t quite understand change in the way that I need her to and she talks like a four year old does with the patience of a four year old. I am so proud of her being my little helper though. She tells me when the Small One has woken up from her nap, she also tells me if someone has knocked the door (why they don’t ring the doorbell which then flashes my lights I do not know) and she tells me when the toast has popped up – however this may be because she’s ready for toast, rather than the actual letting me know the toaster made a noise 😉

What worries me, or perhaps scares me, the most is their safety. Deaf people, with no hearing at all, or who choose and prefer not to wear hearing aids, have children all over the world and are amazing parents so why am I so worried? I feel like my safety net has been pulled from beneath me and I am exhausted with constantly checking on them, checking they’re not talking to me (I am getting rather a lot of bruises on my arm however, from the Big One tapping me on the shoulder every 2 minutes!!) or they’re upset. I felt awful when the Small One had apparently tripped over and banged her head and was crying and I didn’t know. She came up to me in tears, and I was so cross that I hadn’t been alerted earlier – the hearing aid would have picked it up – perhaps not as it happened, but definitely earlier. I gave her the biggest cuddle, mother’s guilt is such a horrible thing.

I did a good thing today that I must write about – think of the positive things, even if the negative things feel like they outweigh. Despite all my worries and scares about facing the big wide world with no hearing, this morning I met a very good and old family friend in the local park. After a short wander around, we popped into the cafe. My friend needed the toilet, and I was very tempted to say “so do I”. I didn’t need to go, but I didn’t want to be alone in the cafe on my own with the girls in case some one spoke to me. Instead, I swallowed and said that I would order while she was away and what did she want. And I did just that. I ordered a coke, an apple juice, a pot of tea. Plus a slice of carrot cake and Victoria sponge (carrot cake for me, oh yes). The man said something. I didn’t understand – I simply repeated what I had ordered – in hoping that he’d find the answer to his question in there somewhere. I think it worked as he nodded in response. I then said something that I’ve never really wanted to say before – its not because I’m ashamed, far from it. I just hate the awkwardness that can sometimes come with it, and I hate the uncomfortable feeling of “announcing” that then often makes the other person think “o…….k…….?” but today I said it and he accepted what I said with a smile and I lip-read him say “don’t worry”. All I said was “Sorry, I’m Deaf, I can’t hear at all”.

I fear I am rambling again, not really making much sense or keeping to the topic on hand. I can see that I am writing paragraphs and paragraphs about one little thing and not really being very informative or explanatory. I do apologise, but it helps me to just let my mind wander and type as I go.

I’ve written to the Guardian by the way, I love to write and I want to write in a more formal way – about life as a Deaf person and a Deaf parent. I haven’t heard back yet, but I really hope I do. I hope that my last few rather, emotive posts, don’t put them off. But I know I could do it and write engaging articles that could open the general public’s eyes on life in silence – and how good we can be at it. Or at least I think I could. Worth a try eh? 🙂