Little Triumphs, Little Heartaches

Dave and I went to Half Price Books yesterday. I found a copy of “The Lost Continent” by Bill Bryson on clearance for $1.00 and snapped it up. I really love his books and have been trying to collect them as I come across them, even though I’ve read them all (from the library). It’s been years since I read this one though, and I’m looking forward to re-reading it.

As we checked out, the cashier noticed my book and her face lit up. I could tell she said she also liked his books and asked if I’d read them before. I told her yes, that I’d read them all from the library but now I was trying to get my own collection of his books to keep because I love them so much. She was very excited and went on to say something else that I just totally missed because she started talking quickly. I could tell it was a story rather than a question, so I smiled and chuckled when she did, and I could tell it was an appropriate response because I didn’t get the quizzical “Why the hell are you laughing?!” look that people will give when you don’t respond appropriately.

As we left, I was feeling pretty triumphant…I had held a little conversation with the cashier and she didn’t realize I was deaf! Yes! I was patting myself on the back for my awesome lip reading skills when I asked Dave, “What else did she say, after I told her that I’d read Bill Bryson’s books before?” Well, it turns out she was telling me that she MET him, twice! Aw, man! I really wish I’d realized what she said because that would’ve been so interesting to hear about. So it was a bittersweet triumph…I was able to communicate, but not get all the information.

As we drove on, I was glancing at the book and remembering how funny it was. At the stoplight I handed the book to Dave to read the first page. I realized I can’t hear him laughing now – it used to be that I’d hear him chuckling and I could glance over and see what parts he thought were funny. I miss hearing that! We both love to read and at night we usually read for at least 10 or 15 minutes before we go to sleep. I can’t hear him chuckling over his books anymore, darn it.

I love books, in general, by the way. I think being hard of hearing really made me gravitate towards books because I missed so much in school – if the teacher was walking around, or had a soft voice, I really wouldn’t be able to hear. I missed pretty much everything during class discussions – I could never hear the questions or comments that other students made. I could read the textbook, though, and catch myself up. Reading was a great way to entertain myself.

The only time in my life that I didn’t read much was when my kids were little. It was too frustrating to get into a book and then be distracted, because the kids just need you so much when they’re little. As they both entered grade school I started reading more. Now I have a stack of books waiting to be read and I really really lose myself in books! There’s nothing to distract me!

I put the Paperback Swap link on my site because it’s been the best thing I’ve joined in the past few years. It’s a really fun way to pass on books that you’ve read but don’t mind giving to somebody else, in exchange for a book that you’ve really been anxious to read.

I’ve read two books on cochlear implants so far: “Rebuilt” by Michael Chorost, and “Hear Again” by Arlene Romoff. They were both really good and I highly recommend them. Michael’s book was more technical and I could really relate to the way he lost his hearing – it was very similar to my experience. Arlene wrote a lot of fantastic stuff regarding what it’s like to be hard of hearing, and how her hearing/brain adjusted to each of her mappings. Even though they were both books about people getting CI’s they were actually very different and each had really interesting information and experiences to share. I had to have them both requested from other libraries because my local libraries didn’t carry them. Right now I have another book on request, “Bridge to Sound With A ‘Bionic’ Ear” and I’m waiting for that to come in.

Anyway, back to what I originally wanted to write about (I tend to get sidetracked a lot). I keep running into these little things that just kind of break my heart, even though they’re so minor that most people just take them for granted. For instance, I made microwave popcorn the other day. I had a bad experience with microwave popcorn when we first got this microwave and I burned the crap out of it. 🙂 Ever since then, I’m careful to watch the popcorn and listen for when it reaches the point where the kernels are only popping once in a great while. Then I turn the microwave off before the popcorn burns. Now I can’t hear the popcorn. I actually panicked at first, until I realized I could watch the bag and see it moving around as the kernels popped. But…geez. I can’t hear popcorn popping!

The phone rings and I can see my mom’s name on the caller ID. I still have to stop myself from reaching over and picking up the phone. I have to have Dave listen to the voicemails and let me know what she said.

I don’t hear the TiVo making its little boops and beeps. When I play Snood on the computer, I don’t hear any of the sounds. When my cats meow, I just see their little mouths open.

When Toby barks, though, I do usually feel a vibration behind my ear. That’s a little triumph. So far I haven’t had to tell a store clerk that I’m deaf. I’ve been able to lip read the questions and comments that they make as I’m checking out. Every time I respond, “You too!” when they tell me to have a good day, I get a little thrill. It makes me feel like I’m doing a successful job at acting the part.


About wendiwendy

I'm a real-life bionic woman.

Posted on May 20, 2008, in Observations and tagged , , . Bookmark the permalink. 5 Comments.

  1. When reading, it’s so relaxing!

    Great post! Keep writing 🙂


  2. I’ve experienced my own little triumphs and little heartaches! I suppose we all do!

    Keep up your musings with this great blog! (Feel free to get as sidetracked as you like… )


  3. Yes, I know just what you mean about talking to store clerks. I’m always careful to make eye contact and try to lipread what they say. I like using my debit card, so I don’t have to worry if I miss the amount. Whenever they say something unexpected, it just stops me in my tracks. I have to look right at them and say “What?”. I get so disappointed.
    That is tough about missing your husband’s chuckles. Make sure he gives you a little poke when he finds something hilarious to share.


  4. “Acting the part” — I find myself doing that all the time. Smile and wave, smile and wave. Sometimes I parse things after a few seconds — I’ve picked up a few words, and then my brain fills in the blanks and the context, so I often wait to respond. Other times, not so much. Then I have to admit to my conversational partner — sorry, just didn’t get it.

    When I was student teaching, I was really worried that my hearing deficit would have a negative effect on my ability to teach, but that just hasn’t been the case. I don’t think anyone’s noticed — although I could be fooling myself — and I find that other teachers are saying “What?” just about as often as I am.



  5. Yes, CK! I do that too–fill in the blanks after my brain catches up. Isn’t it embarrassing, though, to have to admit to someone you didn’t hear what they said? I hate having to admit that but sometimes I have to swallow my pride and do it. “Yea…I was laughing…but really I have no idea why. Sorry. Can you say it all again?” LOL!

    I can’t tell you how much I admire you for teaching. I would just be too terrified — even when I still had my hearing — that I wouldn’t hear the kids’ questions. I’m thrilled for you that it’s working out so well because I know how much you enjoy it! 🙂

    Sarah, I use the debit card all the time too! In fact, I almost never have cash in my wallet anymore. :-0


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