Saturday, May 31, 2008

Wow! Dilemma

Life really changes when you lose your hearing and find yourself in a world which prior you had no awareness of existing. Of course you and I have all known there are deaf and hard of hearing people in the world but have you ever seriously contemplated how complex life becomes?

It would be if you lived your whole life as a normal sized person and all of a sudden you became a little person (dwarf). Really now, do you and I think when quickly washing our hands in the public restroom how daunting and frustrating it is for a person who can't reach the faucet because the sink is too big and high? Have you really ever thought about that? Or having to find clothes to buy which fit your unique and specialized frame?

Being in a deaf world can be this way. How does one wake if completely deaf? Have you ever wondered? For people with cochlear implants and hearing aides who have severe and profound hearing loss, once the devices come off there no longer is sound. For those who wear glasses, do you wear your glasses to bed at night? Not likely and neither do people who use these assistive devices.

For as long as I could I used an audible alarm clock. As my hearing dwindled to the point I could barely hear, I had to invest in a screaming loud alarm clock called the "sonic boom" and it sure made a boom! hehe Another feature of this clock is that it included 2 other options (a plug in saucer shaped device that fits under the pillow and vibrates wildly and an outlet to plug in a lamp which causes it to flash on and off when the alarms goes off). So the device had growth to be used from when I was hard of hearing to completely deaf. (I have not been able to hear the loud alarm for 4 years as I hear nothing).

There are very few places to purchase these clocks just as they are very few places that sell clothing and products to accommodate little people. Therefore, one often has to travel to a specialty store which may be far away from their home and the products don't come cheap.

Unfortunately, my clock got knocked off the dresser one morning when I was reaching to shut it off. As a result, one of the knobs broke off and exposed the electronics inside. I made do with this for quite awhile as it still worked but sooner or later it began to give off a burning smell and became a fire hazard.

No problem you may think ....just jump in the car, drive to Target or Fred Meyer to buy a new one. If only it were that simple. Sigh. Like I said, there are very limited places that sell these type of clocks (basically one store in Seattle, Renton, Tacoma, and Bellingham which are all a long drive from my home; Seattle is the closest.). In addition, these stores are not open regular hours like other stores. I was sure I could just drive down there today and buy one only to find out that the store is closed on weekends. Further, on weekdays it is only open from 10 am until 2 pm.

Now I have to admit, I have had some time to purchase one before now. However, the clocks are not cheap and with the price of gas continually rising to astronomical proportions ($4.25 a gallon today at the station near our house and $4.09 at Safeway in another city), there is always something else the money needs to be spent on. Thus, I have put off buying one and have used Harley as my alarm clock. It has worked up until now. This weekend he is out of town for a friend's bachelor party. I have an event (fun run for NF) that starts at 9 am and I need to be there by 8:30 am.

"Whatever will I do?", I thought. I did not think it would be a problem because I thought I could drive to Seattle and buy a new clock today. I did not find out until last night that Harley was going to be out of town and I would need one.

With nowhere to buy one and nobody to wake me up, I emailed 3 friends with hearing loss in my desperate plea to borrow theirs for the night. Two of my friends did not have one. They either can get by hearing something or depend on their spouse to wake them. Fortunately ,my friend Skip who wears a cochlear implant had a clock he could let me borrow. So I drove to the next town to meet him and get the clock.

While looking at various clocks and prices, I commented to Skip how expensive they were and that I could not believe that a store did not exist on the eastside where we live where we could buy one (Seattle is about 25 miles away and on the other side of Lake Washington - about a 45 minute drive). He remarked that we are a minority. Then the reality of that statement dawned on me. It is a strange world to live as the majority and then one day become a minority. As I mentioned earlier, it would be like you were a big person and shrunk one day to become little or if your white skin turned black. Imagine that.

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