Holiday Auditory Exhaustion Syndrome is Here!
Having just gone through the Thanksgiving holiday with my family gathering at my home, I'm reminded of the reality of auditory fatigue once again. I love my family, and enjoy special times, but my hearing loss does create barriers to communication. I've been this way for so many years that I expect it and know how to work my way through it. Still, it isn't easy to miss so much of the 'fun stuff'.
For example, since TG day, I've learned several things my granddaughters are doing or planning to do that didn't get through to me on 'the day'. I'm grateful to my husband for his willingness to join me for coffee in a quiet place where we can just talk. The conversation tends to lead to what 'the kids' are doing. At that point I start realizing how much I missed during the real conversation. At that point he also realizes how much I missed, but still scratches his head wondering how that is possible. Of course it's because there are several conversations going on at once, along with the TV blasting a few football games! Happy Thanksgiving!! 🙂
I cope pretty well with this but can't help feeling a bit left out at times. It confuses people when you go back several days later to comment, ask questions, congratulate, etc. We risk being labeled as inattentive or just plain not smart. On the other hand, I would never not go there because I'd simply fade into the background forever!
This is such a common thing among people with hearing loss that I thought it might open a few hearts and minds to openly discuss it in the MCC Hearing Loss Group.
How do you manage family gatherings?
Interested in more discussions like this? Go to the Hearing Loss Support Group.
No one has ever told me that I'm daft or stupid, but I do know that in some situations people choose not to sit next to me or include me in difficult social settings. People tend to take the easy road when they have a chance.
The conversation about daft or stupid relates more to an 'inside feeling' than to a reality. We are not daft or stupid but, in some situations, we may present that way from other people's viewpoint. As a group, people with hearing loss are just as intelligent as others are.
I had 2 supervisors on 2 separate occasions when I was working in NY back in the 90s that said something to the effect “I didn’t think you’d get it”. It was a work related issue. Both times I pushed back on that remark and it was because they had to repeat what they said or I looked confused. I explained and they were happy to know that. After that I was their best go to person for work related information This was before I was even aware of advocating.
I also had someone here in Florida turn to the person next to him and said …sadly..Oh she doesn’t understand. Wow..now I am a true advocate at this point in life.
I am not a shrinking violet or overly sensitive by any means but I know what some people think on the very rare occasions when something like that occurs. I got very adept at reading people and don’t hesitate to set them straight. And yes, I have had people way in the past who have avoided talking to me but I know it’s because they don’t know what to do. I think either most people today are more aware of hearing loss (hopefully) or that I have evolved in my approach to them. Most everyone I encounter is kind (happy face on). There’s always someone who doesn’t give a darn though.
What still irks me (and it happened several weeks ago in my gym class) is when someone gets impatient and doesn’t take the time for a repeat or rephrase. A very nice educated woman asked me for a favor ….noisy gym….didn’t understand her the first time and she immediately turned to my friend and told him…”she can’t hear me…would you etc..” That’s when you become invisible. She knows I use an app in the gym too.
She’ll get it eventually lol.
It’s an important strategy for people with hearing loss to communicate their interest and engagement in a social situation with body language, eye contact, and physical location in the center of the conversation, because if we don’t we are easily dismissed as absent. I will never sit passively and silent on the sidelines, waiting to be included. I’m always actively engaged and contributing to the conversation. Joking, arguing, asking questions, showing interest, growing my relationships at every moment I’m there.
I’m also very assertive about asking people to repeat when I’ve missed something. I’ve never been slighted when I’ve asked for help, and I think that’s because there can be no doubt that I’m fully present.
Yes it does require extra effort. I know that going in, and I am up to the challenge. It’s worth it to me. Our attitude toward the challenge is something we can control.
In regards to group listening problems. I had SSHL about 5 years ago and play cards with a group, go to movies with a group and meet for lunch with a group. In every group I struggle because people are speaking fast and sometimes at the same time. In other words it is like it has always been before I lost hearing in one ear. If I don’t have people seated on my right (my good ear) I simply lose the sound. Most of my friends understand if I ask them to repeat, some don’t and I think that is the way it is. I’m 89, in exceptional health and this is a major loss for me but remember my father struggling in groups and I do think I am better off then he was because I will ask people if they will repeat. In movies I simply lose a lot but watch Netflix at home. I have a Cros (Oticon) where I can adjust the background noise but I still miss a fair amount. I just have adapted to this condition as i know I’ve done the best I can.
I’m right there with you…81….and your magic words are “adapted” and “I know I’ve done the best I can.’
That is a great attitude to have. I’m usually pretty comfortable when it comes to family and people I know but I do struggle when in a group of people who do not know me and my situation. And especially if there are a lot of conversations going on at once. I have a hard time figuring out who to focus on and where the conversation is going. It can be hard to navigate that.
Yeah I get that.
Ironically, the pandemic has been something of a boon to those of us with significant hearing loss. Many of the meetings and gatherings I attend have had to move to Zoom over the past three years. In many ways, Zoom and other meetings apps are viewed as inferior to actually being together in a room, and I also think that’s true, but I have been struck with how much better I can hear and participate using headphones on Zoom than I can in person in a room full of people. I can hear much better, and I can read lips more easily. It does sometimes depend on the qualities of the microphones being used by other participants, but in general Zoom increases my ability to participate fully in gatherings.
I agree. One group I still participate in has continued Zoom after the pandemic and I hear very well. When this group met personally in a small room with 8 participants, I got some but not all translations because peoples voices project differently and have unlike tones. Even though I used to ask people to speak up, they remember one time and forget the next. Even the leader’s voice though strong initially, fell off during his continued story.