Tuesday, 22 October 2013

Words of my Journey


The deaf ‘hearing me’: born deaf, diagnosis, severe to profound bi-lateral sensori-neural hearing loss; ENT; 87dB left, 92 dB right hearing loss; hear almost nothing, no voices, traffic, no music, no domestic noises, no  voices only really loud and close bangs and thumps or screams,  see lips moving, do not understand. First hearing test: 5yrs old, green glass ashtray, my first sound with hearing aids, hearing aids; batteries; distortion, Danavox, mercury batteries, flat, sound, noise, Grade One, confusion, pain, people, children persevere, sounds, speech therapy, words, “Say the word: ‘…’” repetition, sound booth, sentences, some knowledge, blocked tubes, earaches, grommets, operations, no swimming, muffled sounds, missed words, lost in class, pin unblocked wax, hated: comprehension tests and reading aloud, dictated notes, assemblies and Chapel, just follow everyone else, humiliated, faiIed to understand, immature, cried, failed standard two, embarrassed, fitted in better, reading improved, sanctuary of accessible  knowledge: library. Bullied, discriminated, ‘big ears’, ignored, no rugby, no hearing aids, felt lost in pool, insecure, alone at school, supportive friends, hymns, banned from singing, high school, Siemen’s in-the-ear, cosmetic, weaker hearing aid, hearing loss level misdiagnosed, struggled to keep up in class, hated Afrikaans, lipreading improved, always sat in front, felt isolated and inferior, English was a struggle to follow talk, talk, talk. Industry Prize Std. 7, honoured, Biology improved, loved science books, struggled with novels, comprehension below par, Science Olympiad Top 10%, visited Wits, shy, many pink slips: merits, no demerits, Science teacher hoh, avoided him, poor role model, bonded with school counsellor, blind-he, deaf-me, connection. Passed matric, relief, university exemption, visit family Scotland, Rhodes, independent, Livingstone house, Anthropology, Visual Communication, irony of hifi for 21st missed, Psychology honours, Methodist church, called to accept my deaf identity, confusion, peace, youth leader, YFC, camps, struggled to fit-in and follow, SADF army, ‘I am hard of hearing, not deaf!’ Basics, G4K3, Medics, officer’s course, Lt. Air Force, back to over-the-ear hearing aids, identity shift, acknowledgement: I am deaf. End of dream: psychologist: I cannot hear you, living a lie, letting it go. High school teacher, English teacher, cannot cope, too much noise, and too little voices, at identity crossroads, acceptance, resigned...

  

ME DEAF NOW: Wits Deaf Education, lecturer, saw Deaf community in action New Covenant church, signing, awe, my people, wanted to learn, met deafies:  sign language classes. Identity shift: transition (step of faith into Deaf world) marginal, (feeling lost, inbetweenity) liminality, and (I am deaf and oral, and learning SASL, new bilingual identity, dignity) reintegration. It is ok: following interpreter, exhausted, switched off hearing aids, much better. Fingerspelling; switched from right to left, I’m a leftie. Met a deaf girl, dating, engagement, signing improved, switched from signed English to SA Sign Language: much better, living visually, married, (hearing) twins. Masters completed, with distinction, bilingual DeaF identity, now using interpreter for meetings, rely on signed English, stopping the deaf nod, assertiveness, Oticon hi-power digital hearing-aids, emotional healing, conferences, articles, oral deaf, Hi-HOPES, training, Deaf mentor, visit families, exciting, language options and empowerment, DTV interviews, St Vincent Open days, connect with Deaf community, first signed speech MCK Honours day, voice training, own business, proofreading, contact clients by email. Divorce. Registered with SARS as ‘deaf’, my deaf friends, made DeaF dogtag, signing in class only, no hearing aids, no voice, scary but liberating, SASL my second language, started PhD, sign bilingualism, love quietness, introvert, contemplative spirituality, quiet gardens retreats, drive and fly without hearing aids, Holland, Mauritius, Singapore, researcher, writing: poetry, blogs, SASL writing team, dvds: subtitles, reading, not Deaf but deaf bilingual, the bilingual journey continues…          
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