A few weeks ago I was walking back to my car in Skipton, after attending a lecture on an aspect of local history. It was dark. It was raining. I was wrapped up in fleece and raincoat. And I’m telling you this because it’s a little scene burned in my memory. Suddenly I thought “this is who I am”. Not the fleece and raincoat particularly (although you more often than not need those in North Yorkshire) but because of that startling and stunning sense that I was recovering the Vera I am used to being, who had been so distressingly missing in 2017.
On holiday in October, with a group of people I didn’t know, I had tried to explain a couple of times how I was feeling. I’d said I felt like holding up a placard saying “this is not who I am” because the tearful, quiet, uncommunicative person they were seeing didn’t feel like me at all. I wanted to tell them it WASN’T me. I wanted to tell them what I was REALLY like. Someone said (it was with the best of intentions but it was entirely the wrong thing to say to me at that moment) “but this is the new you and it’s perfectly OK”. Except it wasn’t. To me it wasn’t perfectly OK at all.
The meeting in Skipton had been quite an ordinary one, except it was at a venue I hadn’t dared visit in a couple of years (no loop, big room). There were some people there that I knew and a few of us sat in the front row together. I could chat with them easily. Another chap teased me about my asking the organiser to leave a light on at the front. (I’m not actually sure if I need that any more, and maybe I’ll try doing without it next time, but for the moment it’s a habit and a comfort blanket that is hard to leave behind). “I’ve got it!” he said. “Why don’t you just bring your own torch and shine it in the speaker’s face?” We laughed about the wonderful mental image that created. The talk started. I heard it perfectly, despite the speaker nursing a cold. I even heard some of the questions afterwards and then, happy, I set off back home.
It doesn’t sound much, does it? A few casual conversations with people. A few jokes. A talk heard without struggle and strain. But how important it is. This is me. This is what I like doing. This is who I am.
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19 thoughts on “This is who I am”
Your blogs really hit the spot. Thank you for sharing them. You struck a chord as I feel more like me although I am still battling on with hearing aids and gadgets. I am more upfront about my needs and that has helped greatly. I have to thank Hearing Link for this as until I found them incredibly I had not met a person like me before ! I cycle , run , do Pilates and all manner of fun things , in groups and with ladies whom I tend to struggle to hear . I love it. I’m not a loner by choice and I am so glad I have persevered and found so many things to enjoy. I don’t hear the casual chat but I can hear when I focus on a single person and that’s enough as I am still included and enjoy just being with a group. The biggest difference for me is not having to work full time as I have so much more energy to deal with the ups and downs of not hearing and every so often to meet up with those I have connected with through Hearing Link as we can truly be ourselves as we totally get it ! It’s so wonderful to read how much a CI has helped you and keep up the good work
Hello Shona. Thank you so much for writing this. Hearing Link is a wonderful organisation and I have read about your exploits on their website. Very best wishes. Vera.
Hi Vera, you sound so happy! I am so pleased for you long may it continue. It must be fantastic to not have to constantly strain to understand when people are talking to you. I will shortly be having an NHS audiology text, the first for many years and if it is mentioned that my hearing is acute enough to be considered for a CI. I will definitely look into it.
Hello Patricia. Thank you, and good luck with the test. I hate hearing tests. Once, an audiologist, watching me wincing and screwing my face up in concentration, said “Vera, remember that it’s your hearing I’m testing, not you.” But I still hate them! Best wishes. Vera.
Hello Vera. I have identified very strongly with many things you have written in your blog, but none so much as this entry. I feel exactly the same after receiving my implant and have said to many people that I not only got my hearing back but my old self too! The most casual conversations, with waitresses or shop assistants etc, make me smile inside because pre implant I would have avoided them like the plague! I am so pleased for you! Helen
Hello Helen. It’s wonderful, isn’t it? This morning, at the doctor’s (holiday injections, nothing scary), I could sit with my back to where the nurse was most likely to pop out and call my name. How amazing is that!!!! And I heard her!!!!!!! As you say, it’s the “little” things like this that matter so much. In cafes, instead of guessing what the next question is likely to be, I can hear what the “barista person” is saying (mostly). Every day a new marvel. These things all sound so trivial but they’re not. Vera.
Hello Vera. This is a great blog entry! I’m very happy you are feeling more like ‘yourself’ 🙂
I agree with ‘Jen Tomkinson’ – if more specialists and ENTs read your blog, they would have a much better understanding of the other issues regarding hearing loss; the issues that come hand-in-hand with hearing loss, that can have just as much impact (if not more) on peoples lives. With my hearing loss, I also lost confidence and gained a huge amount of frustration. One of my first moments of feeling more myself was when I was sitting on a train going out on a day trip, listening to some music on my headphones, looking out of the window at the sunny day outside. I don’t think i’d realised how much of myself I’d lost, until i started to get bits of ‘me’ back…I’m still having these moments…I think i have changed, and I hope the changes that stay with me are the ones that have made me a better and stronger person…
…Wow, you’re words have really resonated with me…
Here’s hoping to more moments of feeling like ‘yourself’ 🙂
Lots of love
That’s a great way of putting it Carly, that you don’t always realise what you’ve lost until you start to get some of it back. Hope you too get more and more bits of “you” back.
When I read your blog I always think if only hearing people, particularly those in the medical profession, read it then they might understand how it affects your personality when you have a hearing loss.I am so pleased that things are going well for you.
Thank you Jen. So many people completely underestimate the losses involved with a severe hearing loss. It’s not just that we can’t hear (as if that were not enough) it’s that other bits of our personality change in the process. I’ve not owned up yet on the blog, for example, to the fact that I got very short tempered in the months before the operation, with my dear beloved getting most of the stick. It wasn’t fair, but it’s human to lash out when you are hurt. Not right, not good, but predictable. (Another reason why partners need support too).
Hello Vera. I get so much encouragement (and so much enjoyment) from your blog! Thank you!
I have been hard of hearing since my teens and am now 70 so ‘who I am’ has changed a lot over the years along with increasing deafness. Like you I have a very supportive husband and family but hearing my daughter telling her 3 year old to look at Gran and speak clearly made me realise how much I still miss the spontaneousness of conversation and general chat. I don’t think I am brave enough to take the next step and go for an implant as I am terrified of losing what hearing I have – but your blog is a huge inspiration to maybe…one day…!
Please turn it all into a book too!
Well Sue, it’s never too late. There were people much older than me at the information session I went to. If you ever get that chance I’d say go for it; it hasn’t been that hard at all. Vera,
Dear Vera, I was one of those strangers who was with you on holiday in October and I thought you were pretty awesome just as you were. I remember you telling me of all these good movies that you had seen and it was really fun. I had a great time getting to know you and thought you were really cool just as you were.
Hello Nancy. I had a great time getting to know you, too. Had there not been some technological miracle on the horizon I guess I would eventually have become reconciled to the “new me” and moved on, but it was so hard. Losing your hearing is one thing but losing a big chunk of what makes “you” who “you” are is even harder. Now I feel like I am back to the “old me” and that is a good feeling. Much love to you and Richard, and thanks for all your support. Vera.
Wish I could join you – it sounds great. Social life – except talking one to one /two in a quiet room is so hard these days! Work conversation too – such a struggle. That you can achieve this result is priceless really!
Thanks for sharing and spreading the hope that it’s possible because-even when/if approved for an implant, it’s a massive decision and the hopeful result you’ve had makes it clear that it’s worth it!
I wish you could join me too. Let’s hope that the current review leads to a relaxation in the eligibility rules and, if not, lets have a massive campaign about it.
Welcome back to the old Vera! Happy days! 😀
Brilliant that you are having such fun rediscovering your true self! So uplifting 😊
Can’t wait to hear how you are getting on too.