The other week my car needed to be serviced and I had booked an appointment at the local garage. The young man at the service desk was taking the details. Trying not to miss something important I stopped him at one point and said “sorry, I missed that – I’m deaf and I lip read – could you say it again?” “Gosh” he said “lip reading……is that difficult?” Yes it is, I replied. “Why did you learn?” he asks. Well, because my hearing is really very poor these days, I explain, so lip reading is the only way I can make sense of speech. “When did you lose your hearing?” he asks. I explain (long slow process over 40 years).
Anyway, I go on, what did you say? “Oh”, he said, “I just asked if you were doing anything special at the weekend.”
All that fuss…..
Sometimes I envy hearing people their ability to zone out non-essential chit chat secure in the knowledge that that’s what it is. A quick “no, nothing special…..how about you?” would have taken infinitesimally less effort. (On the other hand, it was lovely that he was interested in lip reading).
Something else I envy about hearing people is their ability to hear when someone isn’t looking at them. How do they do that?? I can’t even imagine any more what it would be like.
So for example my husband, Nigel, and I might be chatting in the kitchen whilst doing our respective chores. It sounds a simple enough thing, but it’s challenging. If Nigel is doing the washing up (at the sink, with his back to me) he will be twisting his head so I can see his face. I might be dancing around to put myself in the best position for lip reading. I suppose we could wait until we are facing each other but that’s not always possible if you are just flipping a few comments back and forth whilst doing the dishes. Anyway – I am loathe to give up spontaneity completely. Marriage is about the casual chat as well as the deeper stuff.
But here’s the point. If I’m speaking (say telling him something that happened to me earlier in the day) and he heads off into the back kitchen to put the washing in the drier……I can’t carry on talking. How weird is that? I just peter out. Rationally I know that he can hear me perfectly well, and will come back in the room when he needs to say something. But, because I can’t hear people without seeing their face something very deep in my psyche seems to have stopped me believing that HE can. It’s very strange.
“Go on”, he says “I can still hear you”. But I just can’t do it.
Mind you, sometimes in the past he has reappeared saying “sorry, I missed that, the spin cycle started”.
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