One of Us

by Tina Blue
October 26, 2004

          Today I had an appointment with a doctor I don't normally see. When Jean, the medical assistant, led me into the examining room to take my information and do a blood pressure check, I told her, as I must always tell new people, that I am severely hearing impaired, so she would need to speak up for me and look at me, to let me read her lips when she spoke. 

          I also told her that my hearing aids had been sent out for repair and boosting, so I didn't have them with me and would need extra help hearing.  Jean was very concerned about this and asked, "Don't they have loaners you can use?" I was actually a bit surprised, since most people don't even think about such things when I warn them I am without my aids for a while.

          Jean was very considerate about how she spoke to me.  In fact, I was pleased to find that she was far better at it than most new people are--or even most people who are familiar with my hearing difficulties.

          But every now and then, when I would say something, she would misunderstand me or ask me to repeat myself.

          This seemed fairly odd, because I articulate very clearly and project my voice unusually well, since I am a teacher, and specifically the kind of teacher who wants to make sure the students in the back rows can hear me (unlike the professors I excoriate in
"Mush-Mouthed Professors"

          I thought about suggesting that perhaps her hearing was not quite optimal and that she might want to consider getting it tested. I decided to wait until after she was done with my medical information, but you can be sure that I intended to suggest it then.

          I often notice when other people are not hearing as well as they should, and I have pestered several people to get hearing tests. My hunches have always proved accurate, too. Three people I have pushed to get hearing tests have done so and found that they
hearing impaired, though still in the mild to moderate range, which is why they had not yet realized it themselves.

          So I was all set to gently and politely suggest that Jean might want to get her hearing tested.

          And then it was time for my blood pressure check.

          "Hold on a minute," Jean said, "I have to take out my hearing aids to do this."

          With this remark, she removed a pair of behind-the-ear aids and laid them on the desk, so she could use the stethoscope.

          No wonder she knew that the hearing clinic could have provided me with loaner aids and was troubled that they had not. She was fully aware (in a way that few "hearies" are) that being without aids for an extended period of time can be a real problem for someone with a severe hearing impairment.

          I don't know why she didn't mention her own hearing impairment when I first mentioned mine, though I suppose that I put that information on the table more readily than most. Maybe I am just unusually assertive about it.

          Needless to say, as soon as I learned about her hearing impairment I gave her the URL for this website. 

          So if you are reading this, Jean--Hi!

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