My name is Frieda and I am hearing impaired. Here, you will find stories of my life growing up and what it is like for me to be a wife, a mom of two boys, and hearing impaired.

Monday, May 17, 2010

*Ring* *Ring*

"Mom, the phone's ringing."

(I can't hear the phone ringing or see it anywhere)

Why are you telling me that?  Can't you answer it?

The phone rarely rings at my house, and when it does, it is usually for someone else, not me.  Recently, I am wishing that phones had cords on them.  Remember those?

Those phones would NEVER get lost.
Cordless phones would NEVER run out of battery charge.

My cordless phones have a button that will page the 'lost' phone.  It doesn't do me any good...I can hear the ringing, but wouldn't be able to tell you which direction it's coming from.

I have thought many times about 'ditching' my land line and using my cell phone exclusively.

Think about it...

No telemarketers calling me to take advantage of the energy rebates for attic insulation...

I already did that two summers ago AND got my rebate.

No non-profit groups calling me to ask for donations...

I already have a favorite charity that I regularly donate to.

Nobody calling for one of my kids...

I'm not sure where they are.  Have you tried their cell phone?

No strangers that are trying to pronounce my last name...

If you don't know me, don't call me.

Why do I still have a land line?  For one reason only.  In an emergency.
Two years ago, I was near the LA airport when there was a 6.0 earthquake in a nearby city.  I saw dozens of people looking up at the sky and trying to use their cell phones.   Many of these people were unable to use their cell phones.  When you have hundreds and thousands of people trying to use their cell phones in one location at the same time, the cell phone tower overloads and becomes 'locked up.'

In an emergency, the 911 operators would know my exact location on a land phone line.  Land lines are most likely to be repaired first in the event of a natural disaster.

For now, I have Comcast VOIP basic phone service with a battery backup for $25 per month.  I have thought about using other services, but it is very important that I have a CLEAR connection.

I am still new to Skype, and texting.  What is your favorite way to communicate?

Thursday, May 13, 2010


My husband and I were wandering the aisles of Costco last night.  Did I say wandering?  Ooops.  I meant to say "purposefully walking" down the aisles.  You can't wander in Costco.  It's too dangerous.  You will almost always end up spending more than you wanted.  Have a list.  Be prepared.

Our list was a mental one.





We were passing through the toiletries section (I still don't understand where the word "toiletries" come from), you know, the section with the shampoo, soap, and bathroom stuff are...

 My husband said, "What about toothpaste?"

"I know we have some."


"Under the sink in the bathroom." (this is where I store the extra boxes of toothpaste)

"Under the sink?  That's a strange place to put toothpaste."

"That's where I always put the toothpaste."

Then it dawned on him that I said Toothpaste.  He smiled.  Chuckled.

"I'm talking about toothPICKS..."


He smiled.  He is beginning to understand a little bit of what I am going through.  What I go through on a daily basis.

He doesn't have a hearing loss, but he has tinnitus.  For him, it is a series of clicks and buzzing in his ears that are so loud and bothersome, that it is affecting his ability to hear.  His ability to go to sleep.  He has had his ears and hearing checked, (no hearing loss) has tried a number of over the counter meds that have not worked.  Combine that with the ultra-noisy, echo-y environment of Costco and you've got a winning recipe for a communication mix-up.

I have tinnitus.  It is a high pitch, continual sound that only I can hear.  Late at night, when I take the hearing aids out, I hear it.  It's the most ominous, annoying, distracting sound.  You can plug your ears and still hear it.  When I have complete silence, I think that my brain makes up the ringing sound to make up for the absence of sound.   When I get a hearing test, I will always hear that particular pitch.....if it goes on for more than a few seconds, I know it's the tinnitus, not the test.  When I wear my hearing aids, I usually don't hear it, so wearing hearing aids is a good thing for me.

Do you have tinnitus?  What works for you?

Wednesday, May 5, 2010

I Am Not Alone

I just met my new neighbor across the street.  They are a couple with two grown children.  I found out that he is an audiologist.  A hard of hearing audiologist.  An audiologist that wears hearing aids.

That got my attention.

I have never heard of a hard of hearing audiologist.  But what better person than one who is hard of hearing to be able to understand what their clients are going through?

He told me that roughly 34 million Americans have some degree of hearing loss.  That doesn't even count those that have NOT been diagnosed.

I decided to search the Internet and see what I could find.  It is difficult to find accurate numbers, as these are self reported.

Nearly 10 million people are hard of hearing and close to 1million are functionally deaf. (Journal of Deaf Studies and Deaf Education, 2005)

Gallaudet Research Institute estimates that as many as 42 million people have some type of "trouble" with their hearing.

Approximately 1 million people are "functionally deaf."
More than half of this number are over 65 years of age.

About 8 million people are hard of hearing.
More than half of these people are over 65 years of age.

Where does that put me?  In a group of around 4-5 million people that live in the U.S.A.

Saturday, May 1, 2010

What Do I Hear? Timpanogos Cave

One summer, I was outside talking to a neighbor of mine at the corner by her house.  My husband pulled up in the car and rolled down the window.  Quickly, he said,

"I am going to the store for milk and eggs."

"Okaaaay....." I say, scrambling through the "file cabinet" of familiar, similar words in my brain. I quickly re-count the number of syllables I heard, tapping my fingers to each syllable.  By this time, my husband has already driven away.  

This is what I came up with: 

I'm going to Timpanogos Cave.    (a popular place to visit in Utah.)

"He's going to Timpanogos Cave?" I said out loud.

My friend started laughing.  Uncontrollably.

"Huh?"  "What's so funny?" 

After several moments of laughing and trying to catch her breath, she finally said,

"He's... going... to the store... for milk... and eggs......"

Milk and eggs?  How in the world did I get Timpanogos Cave out of that?

I'm glad I can provide some comic relief!

How do I describe my hearing loss?

Have you ever tried to describe a color to someone who is blind?

My hearing loss is in BOTH ears.  My left ear is significantly worse than my right ear.  I have developed the habit of sitting by other people's left sides.  I have "trained" my husband and a few close friends to sit/stand by my right side.

My hearing is better in the higher pitches and louder sounds.  Brakes squealing, whistling, banging of pots and pans, sirens, hurt my ears.  Hard to believe?  It's true.  With hearing aids, I can understand female voices better than male voices.

Hearing aids simply amplify ALL sounds.  I hear the sound of a refrigerator or hum of a fan at the same volume as your voice. I do not have the ability to "tune out" sound.  For example, if you are tapping a pencil or drumming your fingers on a table, I hear it at the same level as I hear your voice.

However, newer digital aids have the ability to reduce background noise.  I have three directional microphones in my digital hearing aids that allow me to hear sounds in front of me, to the side, and behind my kids in the car!  I still have difficulty telling which direction a sound is coming from...If you call my name from across the street, I will SPIN around a full 360ยบ, looking for someone LOOKING at me.

I can only hear/understand certain speech sounds.  /SH/ and some other consonants are non-existent.

What is said          What I hear
Wash                      Watch
Shin                        Chin
Spent                      Pen
Dive                       Die

I can lip read.  When I was young, my older sister and I would silently "mouth" conversations to each other.  It was so much quicker and easier than writing notes.  Plus,  it was PRIVATE.  Lip reading is NOT 100% accurate.  Many words LOOK the same.  Combining hearing aids with lip reading, I can pretty much understand 80%-90% of what is being said.

I think.

Check here at Phonak to listen to demos of what sound is like for people with two different levels of hearing loss.