A week or so ago I went to a social event and proceeded to have a one of those public melt downs. I showed up and expected to have a good time because the last time I went, two years ago, I did have a lot of fun. This time I realized how little I could hear and continued to crumble over the next few hours into melt down.
It was a banquet with speeches and dancing afterwards. I like dancing. This time in going I would know more people and have othesr to talk to. What I forgot was that even though I have new hearing aids, my hearing has dropped enough over the last two years I should have expected some difficulty.
I arrived early and got to chat some people up before the whole place filled up. Music was playing in the background. All of sudden the place was packed (more people than I remembered before) with everyone talking over one another to be heard it was quite a roar in the room.
I realized I had to focus intently on lip reading to be able to understand anything. “What’s this,” I thought, I use lip reading to some degree but never have I depended on it like this before. That thought was unsettling.
Then the speeches started. I sat at the table for a while watching the speeches, just watching because I could not understand anything they were saying. People were still talking to one another though more quietly. The speakers to the microphone were in the back across the room from where I was. I knew he was talking but I understood so very little. I saw my boyfriend go up to the front of the room. I did not even hear them call his name. It upset me so I excused myself from the table and went to stand near the now empty buffet tables to pace my little corner and try not to cry.
The speeches went on and soon my boyfriend was involved in a gag award. I was in my corner watching from afar. I knew the background of the story but watching it all and not hearing put me further into self pity. It was a long narrative which the people were enjoying and laughing along with. I knew the story but I did not know how the story was being told. I felt alone in the crowd as everyone smiled and laughed.
Minutes were dragging by like hours as the speeches continued. My boyfriend came to get me once and pull me back to the table. My emotions were nearly to the surface already. He offered to help me some but as he gave me the gist of each of paragraph, his eyes darted around the table wondering if we were upsetting others with his repeating for me. He would turn occasionally and share a remark with someone and laugh. I was near tears at this point and did not want to sit at the table and cry so I got up again.
To spare you of all the boring details, an argument with my boy friend ensued and I ended up leaving the banquet before the speeches were done and before the dancing started.
Things learned: My hearing is getting worse and large social gatherings will be struggle from now on. At events such as these what to wear will not be my only preparation from now on. Weeks before preparation should start. Could I get a copy of speeches at the event so I can follow along? Could I get the speakers to wear my FM system so I can hear? Will I be able to request CART?
As my boyfriend said I should expect to not hear. He didn’t understand what the big deal was. The deal was for the first time I could only catch one or two words on the fly, words that didn’t help me put together a picture. I was lost, utterly lost for the first time at a social event. Grief for lost hearing rose up and took me out. Just when I thought I was doing all right with my hearing loss.