Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Eldest Daughter's Viewpoint of My Deafness

Kimberly, with her daughter, Audrey

Growing up with a hearing-impaired parent sometimes was not easy. There were miscommunications, misunderstandings, frustrations, and sometimes it was downright hard.

I grew up going from my mom hearing a little to hardly understanding what I was saying unless I was enunciating my words in front of her, so that she could see my lips. Even that could get frustrating, because we often had to repeat ourselves over and over, until she fully understood what we were talking about. It was definitely a challenge; but, we all overcame our frustrations and accepted that this was just the way it was going to be.

I always felt sorry for my mother for being hearing impaired; she missed out on a lot. For example, she would hate listening to Fleetwood Mac, because the noise she heard was more than she could handle. But, we all know what a wonderful band they really are, and she was missing out on the inspiring voice of Stevie Nicks, the awesome talent of Lindsey Buckingham, as well as the musical talents of the rest of the group.

We would go places and people would be talking to her, and when I was around, I would have to let them know that she was hearing impaired, and needed to see their lips. If she had trouble with that, I would do what I could to either answer for her, or tell her myself what the person was saying. I hate to think what people thought of her when no one was around, and didn't know she was hearing impaired.

As kids, we also had fun with mom's hearing impairment. I remember, my brother Chris would stand behind our refrigerator door, hiding his mouth, and start talking to my mom. It was funny because all we could see were Chris' eyes above the door squinting, and we knew he was laughing while talking to my mom, because we knew she couldn't understand anything he was saying. We would also make plans without her knowing, even though she was close by, when it came to planning something for her.

I am sure life was very difficult and frustrating for my mom as well, even more so, since she was the one with the impairment. That is why I was excited for her when she was able to get the implant. I knew things would be different. I can talk to her over the phone again, she can hear my children's voices, and she does not need to look at me all of the time in order to hear what I'm saying. I think that is one of the big shockers for me - I still feel like I need to be face-to-face with her while talking, or even repeat myself to see if she heard me, and she will reply with, "I heard you."

It was a blessing for my mom, as well as our family, that she was able to get her surgery. I know that she is grateful, even if it is still a little frustrating.  But, I am proud of her for pushing through all of the tough times, and wanting to challenge herself in order to overcome her hearing impairment. I thank God for all of the blessings He has bestowed upon our family.

Kimberly Denise Van Deusen (Sprenkel)