Hearing Loss Experiences - Can you find humor in some of it?

Posted by Julie, Volunteer Mentor @julieo4, Jul 20, 2021

People with hearing loss can easily mishear and respond to something out of context. Obviously, this can be a big problem. Most often it's not. How about sharing some of the experiences we have had. I believe that being able to laugh and find humor in some of our experiences can be healthy. What do you think?

Interested in more discussions like this? Go to the Hearing Loss Support Group.

@jshdma

Thank you, Julie. Yes, I have been tested and have a graph showing the downward path. It's depressing, for several reasons. One is that as a professional musician, I can never bring my instrument to the volume where it is often needed to be. I almost don't need to have testing– I know what is happening. It seems to me that opthamology is far more advanced than audiology. I have worn glasses my whole life, but then, millions of people wear glasses. Plus, , there are contact lenses. Cataracts are removed. Correcting bad hearing seems to be much less successful. I read about all the problems with hearing aids, and they are far from invisible. But I appreciate your advice.

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It's amazing to know that prior to the 1980s very little research was being done on communication disorders; hearing loss in particular. The National Institutes of Health (NIH) did not have an institute for this until 1988. Other institutes within NIH had been in place for over a century. And, it wasn't until HLAA was incorporated in 1979 as Self Help for Hard of Hearing People, Inc. (SHHH) that people with partial deafness; the hard of hearing crowd, had an identity of their own, separate from the deaf population. (The name change took place in 2006 to allow more visibility on the internet.)

Because the hearing mechanism is placed deep in the skull, the prevailing medical attitude back then was that little research could be done in that area of the body except on cadavers. That all started to change in the 1960s when Graeme Clark of Australia developed the concept of being able to electronically stimulate the auditory nerve to get signals to the human brain for interpretation. The House Ear Institute in California was also pioneering this technology. This is the Cochlear Implant. (CI)

The prevailing belief was that the auditory nerve was 'dead or dying', thus the brain did not get what it needed to understand speech/sounds. The CI research has evolved amazingly over the past 50 years. Most importantly, researchers learned that most people with hearing loss had a live and functional auditory nerve. It was the tiny hair cells in the cochlea that were dying, thus most with hearing loss experience it as happening progressively. By bypassing the cochlea to stimulate the auditory nerve, they have been able to bring back hearing. CI's started as single channel technology and are now many times that. At first they only delivered sound. Today they deliver speech to most recipients. Now, that is truly a modern miracle. And, of course, hearing aids have come a long, long way in this time frame going from analog to digital, adding BlueTooth streaming, etc.

We all know that eye glasses have been around far longer than hearing devices. Correcting vision is done externally for the most part. It's hard to compare, isn't it? I feel so fortunate to be livng in a time where I've been able to benefit from the advanced technology of the last few decades.

We've all heard of Helen Keller, the woman who was both deaf and blind, and all she achieved in her life. One of my favorite quotes from her is "I am both deaf and blind. Blindness removes us from things; deafness removes us from people". How do you feel about that statement?

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@julieo4

It's amazing to know that prior to the 1980s very little research was being done on communication disorders; hearing loss in particular. The National Institutes of Health (NIH) did not have an institute for this until 1988. Other institutes within NIH had been in place for over a century. And, it wasn't until HLAA was incorporated in 1979 as Self Help for Hard of Hearing People, Inc. (SHHH) that people with partial deafness; the hard of hearing crowd, had an identity of their own, separate from the deaf population. (The name change took place in 2006 to allow more visibility on the internet.)

Because the hearing mechanism is placed deep in the skull, the prevailing medical attitude back then was that little research could be done in that area of the body except on cadavers. That all started to change in the 1960s when Graeme Clark of Australia developed the concept of being able to electronically stimulate the auditory nerve to get signals to the human brain for interpretation. The House Ear Institute in California was also pioneering this technology. This is the Cochlear Implant. (CI)

The prevailing belief was that the auditory nerve was 'dead or dying', thus the brain did not get what it needed to understand speech/sounds. The CI research has evolved amazingly over the past 50 years. Most importantly, researchers learned that most people with hearing loss had a live and functional auditory nerve. It was the tiny hair cells in the cochlea that were dying, thus most with hearing loss experience it as happening progressively. By bypassing the cochlea to stimulate the auditory nerve, they have been able to bring back hearing. CI's started as single channel technology and are now many times that. At first they only delivered sound. Today they deliver speech to most recipients. Now, that is truly a modern miracle. And, of course, hearing aids have come a long, long way in this time frame going from analog to digital, adding BlueTooth streaming, etc.

We all know that eye glasses have been around far longer than hearing devices. Correcting vision is done externally for the most part. It's hard to compare, isn't it? I feel so fortunate to be livng in a time where I've been able to benefit from the advanced technology of the last few decades.

We've all heard of Helen Keller, the woman who was both deaf and blind, and all she achieved in her life. One of my favorite quotes from her is "I am both deaf and blind. Blindness removes us from things; deafness removes us from people". How do you feel about that statement?

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Helen Keller's comment is exactly right. Having studied and taught the medical history of the great musicians (from Bach on), I note that there have been numerous blind musicians (organists, e.g.), who have had successful careers and good lives. Deafness spells the end to any performance career (e.g., Beethoven), although composing is still possible. And deafness does certainlhy cut you off. I have had blind students in my classes, and they seem to do OK, and people like them and try to include and help them. I have never had a hearing-impaired student, so it must be much less common than blindness or visually impaired students.

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@jshdma

Helen Keller's comment is exactly right. Having studied and taught the medical history of the great musicians (from Bach on), I note that there have been numerous blind musicians (organists, e.g.), who have had successful careers and good lives. Deafness spells the end to any performance career (e.g., Beethoven), although composing is still possible. And deafness does certainlhy cut you off. I have had blind students in my classes, and they seem to do OK, and people like them and try to include and help them. I have never had a hearing-impaired student, so it must be much less common than blindness or visually impaired students.

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How would you identify a student with hearing loss if they didn't tell you they had a hearing loss? If they did tell you, would you think less of them?

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@julieo4

How would you identify a student with hearing loss if they didn't tell you they had a hearing loss? If they did tell you, would you think less of them?

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I taught university students. Presumably a student with hearing loss would be wearing a hearing aid, just as a person with impaired vision would be wearing glasses (usually).. Or, he might always sit in front in order to hear better. A deaf student would never be in a my class, since he could not hear the lectures. I do not think less of any person with a handicap; if anything, they get credit for working against their disadvantage. I do not think people would think less of me. But I know that a musician wearing a hearing aid is self-identified as deficient in his own field. Already, the need to adjust playing my instrument so to avoid higher volumes basically means that I cannot practice my profession properly. Thank you for your interest.

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@julieo4
Hi Julie,

I just read over the responses to your question. I agree that a positive light hearted approach to one’s hearing loss will lessen the stress and actually help improve listening….it helps both you and the people trying to communicate with you. However, after 40 years of progressive hearing loss, I still don’t find the humor in it…and I am an upbeat positive 80 year old.

Aside from a rare few mishearing events with my immediate family (falling on the floor laughing type) around a table I still feel some embarrassment when I respond inappropriately to someone.

I am not embarrassed about my hearing loss but it hits home when I do or say something that had nothing to do with anything. Other people’s responses to my gaffe make a huge difference. We all know there are some insensitive and cruel people out there and we have all met our share of them. I have learned not to be too quick to respond and that is against my nature because I always have something to say.

So I think most of us will honestly find few humorous anecdotes to share. Thank you Julie for always posting discussions that get us thinking.

@tonyinmi
I was born with full hearing which started to deteriorate in my mid thirties. I think my first analog hearing aid was when I was about 40 and it was mild. So I agree about missing what we used to hear quite well and how that might be worse than having been born deaf. But that is a personal observation and might be disputed by many Deaf people. I really miss the lyrics in music today. That’s probably why I love the music from he 50s and 60s.

@jshdma
I can’t imagine the pain of losing hearing for someone like you. Being a musician is not only your profession….its your life and who you are. I hope you find some solutions with all the technology available today ( not available when I was experiencing my loss). But music, for me, is just not the same.

FL Mary

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@jshdma

I taught university students. Presumably a student with hearing loss would be wearing a hearing aid, just as a person with impaired vision would be wearing glasses (usually).. Or, he might always sit in front in order to hear better. A deaf student would never be in a my class, since he could not hear the lectures. I do not think less of any person with a handicap; if anything, they get credit for working against their disadvantage. I do not think people would think less of me. But I know that a musician wearing a hearing aid is self-identified as deficient in his own field. Already, the need to adjust playing my instrument so to avoid higher volumes basically means that I cannot practice my profession properly. Thank you for your interest.

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I'm sorry you are not getting the support you need. Yes, hearing loss is a disability. It is not a sign of aging, nor is it a sign of intellectual ineptness or inability. Many hearing aids do not show, so you would not necessarily know if someone in your presence was using them.

I know several musicians who use hearing technology, and are thankful that technology is available to them.

Research shows that untreated hearing loss can lead to depression. Depression can lead to many other problems. You say you are depressed. Are you getting help for that? I hope so.

I encourage you to get hearing help, protect the hearing you have, and find ways to make the adjustments necessary to live a good life. As a bonus, you may even find ways to help others who experience what you are experiencing now.

You can do this.

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@julieo4

I'm sorry you are not getting the support you need. Yes, hearing loss is a disability. It is not a sign of aging, nor is it a sign of intellectual ineptness or inability. Many hearing aids do not show, so you would not necessarily know if someone in your presence was using them.

I know several musicians who use hearing technology, and are thankful that technology is available to them.

Research shows that untreated hearing loss can lead to depression. Depression can lead to many other problems. You say you are depressed. Are you getting help for that? I hope so.

I encourage you to get hearing help, protect the hearing you have, and find ways to make the adjustments necessary to live a good life. As a bonus, you may even find ways to help others who experience what you are experiencing now.

You can do this.

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Thank you, Julie. You are very kind and thoughtful. This is just me; probably can't be helped. Also, it's part of several other problems going on right now. So it's all mixed together. I am a hard worker, but no amount of work solves this kind of thing. That's very frustrating.

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@imallears

@julieo4
Hi Julie,

I just read over the responses to your question. I agree that a positive light hearted approach to one’s hearing loss will lessen the stress and actually help improve listening….it helps both you and the people trying to communicate with you. However, after 40 years of progressive hearing loss, I still don’t find the humor in it…and I am an upbeat positive 80 year old.

Aside from a rare few mishearing events with my immediate family (falling on the floor laughing type) around a table I still feel some embarrassment when I respond inappropriately to someone.

I am not embarrassed about my hearing loss but it hits home when I do or say something that had nothing to do with anything. Other people’s responses to my gaffe make a huge difference. We all know there are some insensitive and cruel people out there and we have all met our share of them. I have learned not to be too quick to respond and that is against my nature because I always have something to say.

So I think most of us will honestly find few humorous anecdotes to share. Thank you Julie for always posting discussions that get us thinking.

@tonyinmi
I was born with full hearing which started to deteriorate in my mid thirties. I think my first analog hearing aid was when I was about 40 and it was mild. So I agree about missing what we used to hear quite well and how that might be worse than having been born deaf. But that is a personal observation and might be disputed by many Deaf people. I really miss the lyrics in music today. That’s probably why I love the music from he 50s and 60s.

@jshdma
I can’t imagine the pain of losing hearing for someone like you. Being a musician is not only your profession….its your life and who you are. I hope you find some solutions with all the technology available today ( not available when I was experiencing my loss). But music, for me, is just not the same.

FL Mary

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@imallears I agree with you. Hearing loss is not funny. The humor surrounding my hearing loss experiences has come mostly when associating with other people like me; through HLAA. No one likes to be laughed at. So many times when we misunderstand something in conversation we don't even know we've responded out of context unless someone tells us. That's when the embarrassment comes in.

Some interesting conversations have been generated at HLAA events through role playing exercises. People share their miscue stories via those role plays. Others identify with them through personal experiences and things lighten up. Being able to 'lighten up' is a huge stress reliever.

I've presented programs on stress management where we take time to have a 60 second belly laugh to then evaluate the feelings people have after the experience.

Again, doing these things, and discussing the funny and also the not so funny things that have happened to us due to hearing loss, does help lighten the load we carry. There's much to be said about the old saying "Laugh and the whole world laughs with you; cry and you cry alone."

Attending the national HLAA conventions over the years has made me feel like a kid going to summer camp. It's a place to laugh, talk, learn and feel 100% normal. 🙂 I wonder if we've met.

There are many cartoons about hearing loss. Do we laugh when we see them or get angry? (Click on the cartoons and you'll be able to see them in full.)

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@julieo4

Some cartoons I laugh at and some I am puzzled at. The beer one is cute but the Listening Aid one is puzzling although I know
what it means. It is misleading information again so I just shake my head.

FL Mary

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@imallears

@julieo4

Some cartoons I laugh at and some I am puzzled at. The beer one is cute but the Listening Aid one is puzzling although I know
what it means. It is misleading information again so I just shake my head.

FL Mary

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Exactly. Many of those cartoons give people a very distorted view of HL. I have about 500 more.

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