Being trapped between two worlds is how Angela has described her life. Angela is not part of the deaf world, but she’s not part of the hearing world either...
It all started 7 years ago. A good friend of mine good friend had been hospitalised prior to my visiting her. Unbeknown to me at the time, the virus had the capability of causing hearing loss and by visiting my friend I put myself at risk.
Shortly after the visit, I went deaf temporarily but my hearing came back...
I didn’t think any more of it until 6 months later when my family told me I really needed to get my hearing checked as I was not picking up many things they were saying to me.
I made an appointment with an audiologist and they confirmed I had lost 35% of my hearing and advised me that it could get worse because having been viral in onset, a prognosis was unreliable. It was devastating news for me.
My financial advisory practice had been established for many years and was thriving. I had serious concerns over the impact my hearing loss would have on my ability to maintain the practice and the needs of my clients.
A year later my worst fears were confirmed, when my hearing dropped considerably. It got to the point where it was exceptionally hard for me to hear and converse with my clients. I made the decision then to close the practice and go into early retirement. It was one of the most difficult decisions of my life. My life was my career, and I struggled to know who I was without it.
For four years now I have lived on my own resources, though have just been eligible for an invalids benefit which helps out tremendously.
The financial impact of my deafness has been one thing, but the social implications have also been tremendous. I have become more and more insular. You see, I don’t really fit into a deaf world, but I no longer fit into a hearing world either.
In the hearing world, to which I belonged for all my life, people are intolerant and impatient of me, because I find it difficult to hear and converse with them. So they assume I am an idiot. In the deaf world too there is snobbery, so I am excluded. I can’t win.
I have learned to fill my life with the simple pleasures as a way to cope. I love to read and spend a lot of time here at home, researching and reading. I have a nice circle of friends here in Taupo too, but I have found as time has gone on, I tend to decline social invitations more and more.
For when I go out to a restaurant with friends, I find I can only converse with one person at a time, so can never participate in a group conversation. I need to be looking at someone to lip read you see. My friends are very good about it, but I feel like I am a burden.
My sister has also been very supportive to me, but she feels for me and I think misses me...my deafness had made us both lonely for each other in a sense. I didn’t realise how much Josie missed me and our conversations if you like, until I got my NZ relay phone. For the first time in a few years I was able to talk to Josie on the phone and she cried. She said to me, ‘It feels like I have my sister back,’ and that touched me more than anything else.
For me, I would love to have a cochlear implant so my sister can have me back and I can have her back; because I too miss our conversations.