Hello. I’m the Bear and I’m your guest blogger just this once, cos my wife has been nagging me long enough. She thought it’d be a good idea to tell people how things are for ME now, rather than you reading her ramblings on all the new things she can hear, now it’s one year post-op and not quite one year since activation. I like reading her blog, but she does go on a bit sometimes. She expects me to read 1,000 words before she gets to the point, like this iPod she barely mentioned at the end of one post.
I took it for granted my wife happened to be deaf. We’ve been married for quite a few years and before that knew each other socially. Anyway, we toddled along OK and it was normal, it was what we were used to. Ed. says I have to tell you that I used to lipspeak a lot for her if she missed something.
I must admit I got rather fed up with all the angst and trauma beforehand. The big question to go through with it or not seemed to go round and round remorselessly in her head. I think her parents and friends got fed up too. Like Baldrick in Blackadder, I had a cunning plan. I didn’t push her either way, but just kept her going. Hard work at times, especially on operation morning. As she was whisked into the lift on the trolley and disappeared upwards to theatre behind the doors all I could think was: ‘phew, that’s done’. *rolls eyes*
What’s it like now? It still makes me chuckle to see her trotting up to find out what’s going on when she hears me call. On the other hand, if she doesn’t respond, it’s funny how quickly I’ve got used to it seeming abnormal now, but it’s because she’s offline – her battery’s died or it’s Saturday morning and she’s walking around the house without her processor on just because.
I talk to her while she’s upstairs and I’m downstairs, which neither of us can quite get over. We keep trying that one. The dog-training principle, using stock phrases in a particular tone of voice, works quite well. I say something outrageous and wait for a prompt response in outraged tones. Sometimes she takes a little while to work out what I’m saying, heh heh heh. She gets cross sometimes if I switch the beginnings of words round, a little game I’ve always played with words, or I use a dialect word she’s never heard before, and says “You really expect me to get it *first time* when you’re not even speaking proper English?!!!” (Ed: *if you roll eyes I can too, so there, haaaaa*)
Lots of questions. “What’s this?” “What’s that?” and if something new happens, then I tell her what it is. We saw quite a tame fox near our house the other night. He decided to disappear into the bushes, and I pointed out his screaming to her. She didn’t like it very much and said it sent shivers down her spine. She can’t believe I can’t name all the birds in the dawn chorus CD her parents gave her, but like I told her, they’re tweetybirds and she gets a train every day, but she can’t say what kind of train it is. Same difference. (Ed: yeah, but . . . anybody can learn what the tweetybirds are, but the majority of folks aren’t necessarily the sort of people who buy Modern Locomotives Illustrated. Bear – beats History Today!)
Sometimes I say a word she’s never heard before as it doesn’t come up in conversation all that often, like today. We were talking about the news on the radio, concerning the nuclear reactor in Japan following the earthquake, and she was astonished by my pronunciation of Chernobyl: all her life she had thought it was pronounced differently. Yesterday she made me laugh by trying to imitate my deep voice.
She copes pretty well with everything but she still visibly winces when some kid has a tantrum when we’re out and about. It’s not even that bad for me sometimes, but she just hates that noise and puts her hands up to her ears.
She sings away happily at church relying on her new ear, now she doesn’t have to watch my lips any more to check she’s singing in time, and says she can hear people’s voices going up and down and the difference hearing the choir makes to everybody else. It makes me smile to see her singing with such gusto. But I can give Bert Kaempfert a miss.
She’s also notorious for falling asleep in the car, her little head lolling. She has a remarkable capacity for chatting away and then being fast asleep within a few seconds. I’ve had funny looks from passing motorists seeing her nodding head and wondering if I’m disposing of a corpse. She can stay actually stay awake most of a very long journey, then fall asleep a couple of miles from home. I used to have to prod her knee persistently to wake her up. Now saying “Bear to Piglet, Bear to Piglet, come in Piglet” is enough to bring her round before we get home. That’s it from Bear: over and out.
*Ed: the world is calling!