Tag Archives: communication

Dial tones

Talking on the telephone is not my forte. Let me clarify this: talking to anyone that is not a family or friend is not my forte. It is not social ungraceness on my part (my pride rings in there), but rather, it is lack of understanding. On the receiver end, they lack patience or clarity of how my Captel phone works (though it is the first thing I explain); on my end, it is the words…I sit in delay. And today’s phone call to my pharmacy definitely proved this to be true.

Timely communication. In our fast-paced world, we expect it. And when you face the untimely pair–Deaf person and the automatic voice communicator spouting number options in order to connect the call to a different line, when I just want to talk to a human being), it confuses the system. And when you’re the one on the slower end, it can get to you…very much like the feeling when your “taking too much time paying as fast as you can in the grocery store line.” We can’t handle untimeliness.

9byN5Db9EK-8 (drawception.com)

Over the years, I have had many interesting phone conversations while using Sprint Captel online: some calls I literally yelled at the receiver end as their lack of patience exposed my own lack of patience and anger; others I cried, still others I had a pleasant chat. Then I just stopped all phone communication. When I finally restarted, using the Captel land-line phone, it felt like re-learning communication. Dad and I made some test calls; I was so nervous. But the feeling didn’t last long. How could it?, when I finally was able to call my grandparents. ūüėÄ

Being Deaf, I could choose to use untimely communication in life as crutch. I would rather use it as a staff, moving forward and learning lessons.

I must speak simply and clearly. Find me alone, and I tend to over talk. It even shows in my writing. Everything must have an explanation. I must define, describe and be known. I want to be heard,  but sometimes being heard means meekness.

Slow conversation doesn’t have to be a hindrance.¬†In fact, it can be enjoyable. Here’s why: when I am waiting for my words to be encrypted, I have to “listen” and even though I can’t hear the voice over the line or timely lip-read, I am processing what the person is saying without thinking of my next “sudden response.” When I sit in a person-to-person chat or talk on Skype, the timely communication effects this “think-while-silent process.” It goes in full reverse, focusing back on myself. When I focus on others, I receive more joy.

Untimely calls can make a difference in someone’s day.¬†And in return, it blesses mine.




Filed under Adjusting to NF2, Family Times, Uncategorized


We sat at an oval table. There were seven of us having a conversation. It was a typical conversation: We had some laughs, times of serious stories, questions, personal reflections. We interrupted each other and the best part was you did not have to feel guilty about not bowing your head or closing your eyes during prayer. No one else was either. All was silent.  And yet, I understood almost every word.

Isn’t that exciting? I sat for an hour listening with my eyes, talking with my hands–American Sign Language! I have not had an experience like this since I took a summer ASL class in college. The Deaf community of the town got together every so often for dinners at local restaurants and they had¬†invited me to go as well. That was¬†one amazing dinner and conversation!! ūüôā Here, our group is much¬†smaller and¬†diverse:¬†There are the two interpreters; a couple–the man, mildly hearing-impaired and the wife, hearing; a Deaf man; an occasional college student who is studying ASL; and me–profoundly deaf, but can still hear a small percentage. But we all sit together on Sunday mornings for the same reason: to hear the sermon.

Our interpreters came up with the idea of our group meeting after the first service to have a time of fellowship. I think it is a brilliant idea! Soon after we started, I discovered¬†that I am in dire need to practice, practice, practice¬†my signing!¬†The group assured me in full support–“This is the best place to practice.” How true.¬†Watching people talk with sign language is different from¬†actual signing. I know most signs and can sign well enough to carry a conversation. But I doubt my memory of the signs and I literally cannot fingerspell. I used to be fluent–signs would just float in the air as I tried to sign as fast¬†as I talk. But the college days are over. I re-entered the hearing world–outside of my classes, chapels, Deaf friend and interpreter–becoming dependent on it, forgetting my signs. Yesterday was my motivation reminder: “For the things we have to learn before we can do them, we learn by doing them.‚Ä̬†~Aristotle

I lip-read, even when talking with a Deaf person or an interpreter. I can see the signs, but the focus is lip-reading. Like taking a picture–focusing on something in the background, yet you can still see what is in front. Same goes for how I communicate. So when they don’t use the mouth function..I see how much it impacts the way I receive the information. (Not as good.) For myself, I still “hear.” Therefore, I associate lip-reading¬†with sound. I live with a hearing family…so when I open my mouth to speak–instinct tells me to use my voice. How else am I to be heard? As we carried on our conversation yesterday, I made a¬†mental note to self…remember the elementary rule of effective sign language communication: facial expressions! This¬†is the¬†tone…there is no need for voice. Facial expression¬†is the voice of the conversation!

Now all that remains is to retrieve the dusting ASL books off my bookshelf and to dive in–looking up words, signing things I see during the day, getting a better right-hand movement in my fingerspelling. And I know the main¬†reason in my not striving for this earlier at home–because it is embarrassing.¬†The sound of that sentence is just ludicrous! It should not be, but it¬†just¬†is. I¬†should think of it in terms¬†such as going¬†around the house,¬†shouting the words at the top of my lungs…why is that any different from just a¬†little sign? I am not certain. Maybe it is because we¬†have never really signed much as a family, besides a few basic¬†words and¬†they can fingerspell. Maybe it just seems inconvenient to me…why sign to them when they can hear? I am not certain. But my¬†family is taking the steps to try different signs to me…why not then sign¬†to them or practice myself?

My sister signed/sang to me the “Happy birthday song” this year before I blew out my candle on the cake. At that moment, I thought it was so beautiful that I almost cried.

bday song in sign language

So today I added another motivation¬†reminder: I love my family and desire to communicate better with them. Thus, I will strive to¬†practice routinely.¬†We are all in this together…even though I am the only one nearing Deafness.


Filed under Adjusting to NF2, Books and Movies, Family Times, Random


[Adj: Not orchestrated; unarranged or off the cuff]

I would venture¬†to say that if I wrote this blog a few weeks ago then it would have had an entirely different perspective. I would have quoted to you lines from the Grinch: “Oh the noise, noise, noise, noise, noise. There’s one thing I hate, all the noise, noise, noise, noise!” Or my favorite Finding Nemo: “Mine. Mine. Mine. Mine.” The seagulls only ever quote one¬†word the entire movie; must not have been difficult to learn their lines. Nigel, the pelican, is about to gulp down his breakfast. Annoyed at the seagulls, he turns and states in blunt authority: “Would you just shut up?”

When my hearing first started the extra editions of obnoxious noises and rhythmic patterns in my head, I had to force myself to find humor to keep myself from tears in most conversations.¬†These two quotes above are most often what I thought. It¬†was and is probably not very obvious to anyone¬†(except to¬†my family)¬†that¬†I¬†am struggling to hear,¬†most¬†often¬†past the extra noise. I put my emotions in¬†the incognito, like the Penguins of Madagascar’s secret tunnel digging at the zoo:¬†and I feel I¬†hide the emotions well, until I¬†can no longer conceal it.


Communication. Hearing. Deafness.¬†My thoughts seem to be consumed most often about these words, their meaning in my life and how to handle them.¬†I first started hearing a high-pitched ring in my ears in the eighth grade. I grew to ignore it; it really did not distract me or play any significance to my communication even when wearing hearing aids. I don’t think I ever really thought much about the ringing, unless it was louder than usual–in event I had a headache or something. Fast forward ten years and things started to change soon after we returned from our spring break vacation. I noticed two different¬†rings. They both had different pitches and instead¬†of just a¬†constant¬†steady ring, they made¬†patterns almost like a broken¬†record. This is where my first annoyance started. And I thought¬†of the Grinch.¬†I thought¬†of Nigel.

NF2 is a disease where you often¬†feel complete isolation¬†in dealing with¬†the different side¬†effects caused by the tumors; but what I should know¬†or realize by now is that¬†I am not alone.¬†Maybe there are a few extremes, like my sweet-smelling aroma–which¬†I still smell!!!¬†But the ringing in the ears, also called tinnitus, is common among other people with NF2. However, before I knew this, I finally had the courage to ask my friend–who also has NF2–if she had ringing in her ears. In our discussion about the different noises we hear, we both described them in terms of musical instruments or notes–which¬†I thought was fun. And then¬†I realized it is yet another area in my journey with NF2 where suddenly I am no longer isolated…after all these years of thinking that I was the only one who heard excess noise in my head! Suddenly, my perspective started to diverge.

There is no “on” or “off” button; I will live with these noises my whole life. I walked in the kitchen last week and declared, “I am nearing Deafness; yet I will never sit in silence.” As many days as there are of complete frustration in trying to communicate, even just with my family, there are other days like today where I hear the noise but it is tolerable. Maybe it is because last night I sat out on the patio and waited for Muffy¬†to finish his midnight snack. I thought to myself about all the noises and patterns in my head, simultaneously playing their rhythms. It sounds like a 5th grade band; it sounds unorchestrated.

Then I laughed at the thought: “I wonder if any of the famous composers ever felt this way?” Hearing all the noises of the orchestra in their heads while compiling their notes together to become one masterpiece. How did they do it? I thought of Beethoven. His deafness never stopped him from becoming a world-famous composer. I can’t destroy pianos like he did, but¬†in waking up this morning, I realized that the piano is one sound and melody in my head that I hear. The tinnitus is changing; last week it was the sounds of trumpets, electric guitars,¬†an accordion, and¬†clarinets (which were most annoying–sounded like someone was just blowing air in the horn and wiggling their fingers back and forth between two notes.) This week, I still hear the clarinets (though not as¬†loud)¬†and the accordian…but today I hear a regular piano. It has been like listening to a “rest and relax” cd you find at stores even though it¬†sounds more like a child just sitting down and playing random keys up and down the piano.¬†But it is a piano. It is almost refreshing.

Who knows–maybe tomorrow it will not be so refreshing; maybe I will hear something new or maybe not. These past few weeks have taught me about embracing change once again. So today I concluded that even though this may not be the¬†“music” I am accustomed to hearing, it is music and I can praise God for the noise–even the clarinets.

Praise Him with the blast of trumpets high into the heavens,
and praise Him with harps and lyres
and the rhythm of the tambourines skillfully played by those who love and fear the Eternal.
Praise Him with singing and dancing;
praise Him with flutes and strings of all kinds!

Praise Him with crashing cymbals,
loud clashing cymbals!
No one should be left out;
Let every man and every beast‚ÄĒ
every creature that has the breath of the Lord‚ÄĒpraise the Eternal!
Praise the Eternal!

Psalm 150:3-6 (The Voice Translation)


Dr. Suess. How the Grinch Stole Christmas. Random House, 1957.

Finding Nemo. Disney Pixar. 2003.

*Image taken from http://www.religiousforums.com/forum/attachments/religious-debates/981d1171060978-great-news-hope-our-future-just-20smile-20and-20wave-20boys.jpg.


Filed under Adjusting to NF2, Books and Movies, Family Times, Funny Stories, Muffy, Random, Uncategorized

Picture This.

If you have ever played the game of Pictionary, you know how funny things can get. Everything from¬†the¬†artist’s fast drawings to what people guess based off the drawings…laughs are bound to happen.¬†Then add a¬†person like me.¬†I read lips. So in a game where people are yelling their answers out and feeding thoughts off each other–I am left with my own brain. My very own train of thoughts. Not¬†to¬†boast–but¬†I think I did pretty good the other night. It was a mind stretching game.¬†ūüôā Of course, if you want honesty: My mind is pretty brilliant and complicated. There is no such thing as a simple answer in my vocabulary. Ask my family. Although I did get my brother-in-laws version of “import.” He drew a little sketch of the USA on the left side of the marker board and the Europe/Asia countries on the right side. He drew a dotted line with a boat going towards the right. He crossed it out. Then he drew a straight line with a boat to the left. At first I said out loud, “Ok, it has something to do with a map.” Then I went on: “Boat, Atlantic Ocean, slave trade…” Then it clicked: “Exporting. IMPORTING!!” ūüôā Pretty great train of thought.

On the other hand, we played a lot of “All Play” games. I think we won a record. More than half or three-fourths of the game was because we landed on the AP square or it had the triangle on the category sheet. Made it really fun! Me, my dad and my brother-in-law were on a team vs. my mom and two sisters. Dad was in turn to draw. I was focused. He drew a stick figure of a man. I blurt out: “Man.” He draws a stick figure of a girl the same height as the man. I say: “Couple”, “Spouse.” He draws a stick figure of a little boy next to the woman. I say, “Boy!” Dad looks at me as if I am on to something. Next thing I blurt out: “MALE HEIR!!!!” Thinking I am so cool. Dad looks at me like–“Say it in another phrase!”–sort of look. I say, “Um, child?” Right after that my younger sister says, “Son.” Son!! Me and my “male heir”. Good grief.

So, when it was my turn to draw, my sister would sit by me and look at what I was going to draw. Even with “All Play”, the teams were even so it worked out real nice. Because blurting out answers is one half of the game, then drawing is the other half. With my sister as my ears, I could focus on drawing until she heard the word. Very fair and logical. I don’t even think we discussed the “How should we do this?” She just stepped right in and did it and that is what we ended up doing the whole game when it was my turn to draw.

In the beginning of the game,¬†I really did not want to play. Usually in games there is so much confusion¬†from not being able to hear. This game, I just lived in my own little world and actually really enjoyed the game!! I felt like I was actually part of the game. A very good feeling!! After being a bit grumpy earlier that evening, laughing during the game lightened my heart. “A cheerful heart is good medicine, but a broken spirit saps a person’s strength,” Proverbs 17:22 NLT.

What games do you like to play?

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Filed under Adjusting to NF2, Family Times, Funny Stories