I gotta have some of your attention…

I’m engrossed in whatever I’m doing…dishes, typing, reading, sewing. Totally focused, listening to whatever weird thing my tinnitus is doing at the moment (Pipe organ! Roaring ocean! Revving motorcycles!). Suddenly there’s a tap on my shoulder and I shriek, peel myself off the ceiling.

Sometimes I feel like being deaf is going to give me a heart attack.

Seriously though, it’s very strange not being able to just hear my name and respond. My family has to go the extra mile to get my attention now. They have to walk up to me and tap me (and scare me half to death), or do an interpretive dance from across the room…waving their arms, waggling their eyebrows and fingers, until I notice the motion and glance over.

Let’s not even talk about what the cats do to me. We have five cats. Three are former ferals and aren’t yet to the point where they are lap cats (we can’t even pick them up) although they do come up and rub against our legs. However, my other two cats are very affectionate. More than once I’ve been totally engrossed at the sewing machine and felt something grab my thigh. It’s even more terrifying because my thigh is the last place I expect to be grabbed or tapped! Inevitably I look down and see a cat hanging off my leg, looking for attention. Before I lost my hearing I always had some warning because they usually meow for a while first. It’s only if I’m ignoring them that they become more aggressive and start grabbing at me with their paws. I told Sabrina, our black fluffball, that I was going to give her a collar with a flashing strobe light on it. Forget the bells (they’re indoor cats anyway so birds don’t need to be warned)…I need a visual indicator that I’m about to be affectionately assaulted by my felines!

I’ve been thinking about setting up a mirror to the side of my computer monitor, so I can tell when someone’s coming up behind me. Sometimes I get a reflection off the printer or my water glass and the movement will make me turn to look. But it gets a little exhausting constantly looking around, checking to see if anybody is trying to get my attention.

I find myself making sure I don’t turn my back to people, if I can help it. If I’m cooking, I’ll do my prep work on our stove top with my back to the patio door. That gives me a full view of the kitchen and there’s no reason anybody would be behind me. No more cutting vegetables at the sink for me!

On a totally unrelated note, I find myself missing music more than I expected to. Whenever I try to think of a title for a journal entry lately, it seems to be a song title or lyrics. The funny thing is, although I listened to music avidly as a kid, teen and young adult, once Dave and I got together (I was in my 30s) I pretty much stopped listening to music. Since he’s got a hearing loss, it was just too hard to converse with music in the background. We’d have to turn it down so low that I couldn’t hear it anyway. Plus, the kids were young and I didn’t want to wear headphones because I wouldn’t be able to hear if they were crying or needed me. Even in the car we rarely played music, again because it was too hard to converse. (We also almost never drive around with the windows rolled down – the background noise makes a conversation impossible. As soon as spring rolls around, we’ve got the air conditioning on in the car and the windows rolled up!)

Yet, I find myself “hearing” certain songs over and over in my head. I make up new arrangements for them too. It’s very strange! I went through a phase where I just kept hearing Beatles songs. I’m not even a big fan of the Beatles but my dad was, and I realized I was hearing the songs I was used to hearing all the time as a kid. Same with the soundtrack for Jesus Christ Superstar, which my dad listened to frequently (and I liked it so much that I got my own copy).

In fact, a lot of the songs that pop into my head are from my childhood. ‘One Bad Apple’ by the Osmonds (yes, I loved Donny Osmond), the soundtrack to Jonathan Livingston Seagull (specifically ‘Lonely Looking Sky’), and from my late teens, ‘Puttin’ on the Ritz’ (the version by Taco). That last song pops into my head all the time…it’s not even a song I was particularly fond of! Crazy!


About wendiwendy

I'm a real-life bionic woman.

Posted on May 15, 2008, in Observations. Bookmark the permalink. 6 Comments.

  1. These are very apropos comments! They also helped me to think how to improve my surroundings, and I have been deaf all my life! Now I remember exactly where to put the mirrors in my home that have been just sitting in the garage since moving in!

    Place them so that you see motion between the mirror and a window or lamp, or facing traffic routes such as down a hallway. Tell people to wave in front of a light source if too lazy to come up to you. When they do, tell them not to blindside you…a tap from behind is the worst!

    Pets and Deaf people make a unique symbiosis. Observe them constantly and they will be your ears. Reading the little movements like pricking up their ears, a sudden raise of the head, a wag of the tail for no reason, and you get a lot of informaion that way. Similarly, running for the door (or abruptly under the furniture) is alert enough for you to do something about it. A little training goes a long way–keep a tiny tidbit available and reward them when they signal an important and specific sound.

    I haven’t had a cat startle me (except when one used me for a halfway point between a high shelf and the floor) but dogs do unless trained to specific noises. They adapt quicker than one would believe.


  2. Funny about the cat trying to get your attention by grabbing onto your thigh– are the felines declawed? Heh.

    I had a wonderful calico, but I had trouble keeping her from grabbing the needle going up and down on the sewing machine, she was so darn fascinated by the up-and-down motion. Had to close the door to the room to keep her out, so she wouldn’t startle me jumping onto my lap then onto the sewing machine to bat at the needle.

    Tapping on the shoulder is a rather sudden action, hubby has learned to gently touch the arm and lay the hand there instead to get my attention.


  3. OH Wendy, I’ve set up mirrors on my desk at work 10 years ago to avoid getting scared. I work with some mean spirited women that liked to come up behind me and scare me 🙂 I would constantly use reflections bouncing off of objects to get a feel of what is behind me. I went as far as ripping up the carpet and putting hardwood floor down so i can feel the vibration of people walking around. I’m nuts I know!

    My tinnitus never sounded like a melody, it always sounded like rushing air, beeps, dinkling. I wish I had a melodic tone in my head, I wouldn’t have been so stressed out…

    My dog warned me all the time. I always knew when someone was at the door or when someone was coming near me. She is the perfect dog for me!


  4. Hi, Wendy,

    I always search the best situation to avoid the spooky tappings. I usually put my desk facing to the door, so that I can see someone coming in. Putting my computer on the side wall where I can see anyone else going around the room helps.

    I prefer waving hands over my eyes, flashing the lights or banging the floor over tapping on shoulders when not knowing anyone entering the room.

    I think tapping on shoulders should be forbidden!! lol…



  5. I have to comment about the pet situation. My cat also taps me on the leg to get my attention. Just a tap. When I look at her– and I SWEAR she waits for me to look– then she meows with her mouth very, very wide like she’s saying “read my lips.” I can’t hear her meow at all. I used to have a dog and he was deaf. We were great buddies. I still miss him. He rarely barked. It’s weird but I felt like I knew what he was thinking just sharing a look, and he knew my moods too. We were very close, that deaf dog and me. He’s the only deaf being I’ve ever lived with.


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