Monday, February 02, 2009
Hard Lesson on Deafness
As most of you know, I have been completely deaf since July 2004. When I say completely, I mean that I hear nothing what so ever (not even any environmental sounds). It is challenging at times yes, but I am pretty comfortable and content with my deafness. I was fully hearing until the age of 27 when it was apparent I was starting to experience hearing loss. So unlike so many I have met and know, I was able to enjoy activities in my youth of being a hearing child (dances, band, stereo systems, headphones, concerts, proms , pep rallies, the excitement theater systems in the movies and IMAX, etc.).
It was very emotionally painful at first to face and accept that I was about to lose all of that part of my life and inevitably completely. However, I was lucky to have a period of 5 years during my more mature phase of young adulthood to adjust and adapt to my gradual hearing digression while my hearing self faded further and further away.
When all sound went out, I have to admit it was nothing I could have imagined nor fully prepared for. It was an entirely different world than being hard of hearing. When you are hard of hearing, you are still in some way part of the "hearing" by whatever little you can hear. That can mean just being able to hear the siren of an ambulance or firetruck speeding closer behind you. (A dear friend of mine felt just horrible that it took so long to notice the ambulance speeding up behind him as he was unable to hear it).
So the past 4 and a half years for me have been an exploration of what it is to live "truely" deaf, how to cope, and how to adapt. My first BIG lesson was to NOT start adding water to the sink in preparation to do dishes and then walk away only to forget about it! LOL Thje result an hour later was to come downstairs and discover the area around the sink of my kitchen flooded!
This happened only within the very first months of my deafness and for the most part, I was able to keep myself from repeating that mistake (I may have slipped a couple times). I did go through a phase of leaving the water running in the bathroom for hours at a time which did not make Harley too pleased. By now, I am pretty good at reminding myself to look at the faucet and make sure I turned the knobs ALL the way off before leaving the room.
Yet, after all these years of adjustment and just when I thought I might have it down pat, a new thing to learn arises. Why it did not happen earlier is because I made a fiarly recent change which one would not expect to have any impact. Maybe about a year and a half ago I bought a tea kettle for the stove. Now I never used one when was a hearing person and that is why I would not think much about it. For hot water, we always just zapped it in the microwave. But as my husband and I became more serious tea drinkers and started using "loose leaf" tea, a need grew for a tea pot for the stove.
Also with the deafness, came a change in the way of communication. No more yapping on a cordless phone while doing things in the kitchen. When it is kitchen time, it is just that and nothing else (well I suppose I could sit down and read which sometimes I do but not usually while cooking). Instant messenger and email have almost entirely replaced using the phone (unless the need is immediate and I have to contact a business, doctor's office, or the health insurance company).
I am sort of a computer addict. LOL I just can't seem to help myself. There is always something there to entertain my mind and it all changes so fast (and trying to keep up with several emails a day). If you look at my monitor, you find it burdened heavily with several open applications at once. I LOVE to multitask on it and be doing several things at a time (none of which are games or watching a movie).
Too impatient waiting for the water to boil in the tea pot, I ran upstairs to my computer to return to whatever I was so enthralled in or distracted by. While doing so, I engaged in an unexpected IM conversation with a friend and then also a family member at the same time.
As a half hour passed, I completely forgot about the few cups of water boiling away in the tea pot downstairs. I looked down from the loft and saw Katie running back and forth on the deck and wondered what she was doing. A few minutes later and right when Harley walked in the door, I remembered the tea pot and told my friend I had to run. Harley comes up the stairs and signs to me "What is going on?!"
The kettle must have been whistling for a very long time as ALL the water evaporated and the kettle melted to the burner of the electric stove! Imagine that, eh!? Harley was not too happy with me for leaving the kettle unattended and creating a potential fire hazard. The above photos are the destroyed kettle which resulted from my lack of attentiveness.
Think I would learn the lesson after one time? Well no, it is not that easy. We now have a gas stove installed so it is probably even more important not to leave something unattended. Again, I put the new kettle partially filled with water on the burner and went back upstairs to the computer. Luckily, I remembered after some time that I was boiling water and I returned before all the water evaporated and ruined the new kettle! Phew!
So now I have to come up with a routine and way to remind myself not to walk away from the stove. One of my added goals for the year is to read a list of 5 books that I have. Perhaps I can make it a practice of scheduling "reading time" at the kitchen table for whenever I am cooking or boiling water and need to wait.