Thursday, March 17, 2005

Plus ça change

I went back to work today for a couple of hours. A few hours up and about leave me feeling woozy (no other word describes it as well) but I was at least able to check in, catch up and collect a handful of files for working from home.

Many hugs and much fussing-over by all my coworkers, which made me feel very nice. There had also been flowers and cards and fruit baskets while I was off. These things make you feel appreciated and valuable. The Boards of Directors of the two organizations I split my time between these days are also making sure that I don't lose pay while I am off. I have been very grateful this past year that I work in the NGO sector where the sense of employees as family is deeply-rooted and the concept that we are, in fact, our brothers' and sisters' keepers is a core value.

Several people have asked me if, now that I have the implant, I am going to give up the ASL classes (I am now at level 4 of seven levels). I find that frustrating because it reveals to me that people don't understand what's going on here. Giving a wheelchair to a paraplegic does not make him a walker. It makes him more mobile. Similarly, having an implant does not make me a hearing person. It makes me a deaf person with a tool to help me decipher sounds.

I am deaf. I am going to be deaf until the day I die. The implant does not make me a hearing person. For the rest of my life, no matter how well the implant works, even if it responds beyond our wildest dreams, I will still be deaf. I'll be deaf when I bathe. Deaf in the shower. I'll be deaf when I swim. I'll be deaf when I am sleeping. Deaf when the batteries die. Deaf in a driving rain or blizzard if I put the external unit in a purse to protect it. Deaf if the internal or external unit fails. Deaf at the drop of a hat should the thing get damaged or thrown off in a car accident or a slip and fall.

I woke up in a foreign country and I am learning the language. I would be an arrogant fool to stop because I met a cheerful fellow expatriate who began to interpret for me everywhere we went.

Because the ticket here was one-way, and I am going to be here a long, long time.

ronnie

1 Comments:

Anonymous Yvonne with Squirrels in Ottawa said...

Amen. Point completely inhaled.

Given the number of us (appropriately-named) Boomers/post-Boomers who attended concerts and "heard" the music thumping in our chests, we might all think about getting a head start on ASL ASAP. Another language is definitely a plus.

When I read about how people react to you, I find a similarity when speaking in my second language - which I do with my husband's French-speaking family. It took my lovely mother-in-law a full two years to realize a) I'm reasonably intelligent and b) I have a sense of humour. As I become more fluent, my personality comes through.

Because of you, Ronnie, I've now had several instances of "emerging understanding" about hearing. One was when I was deciding *which* song to add as background to the FBORFW eGreet I sent to you. As I tested the various songs I felt a shock in my heart upon realization.

I'm planning a trip to Moncton this July, and was hoping to ask to stop by and have a coffee with you Ronnie. To my shock and emerging understanding, I realize that I have some work to do so I can converse with you as quickly as I talk/think/type.

Thank you for writing about this - your openness is providing an opportunity for deeper understanding. Merci!

~Yvonne

P.S. Like Scarlett, I do run on.

4:44 PM  

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