Hats off to Helen!

This week I have been channelling Helen Keller the famous writer and activist. No, I haven’t written a worldwide hit or championed the rights of women, I have gone deaf. Let me explain… I have an ear infection which refuses to clear. This in itself is no big deal except that the uninfected ear is already stone deaf and so I can barely hear. Again, annoying but not really a big issue except that as I am also visually impaired I can barely see either. It’s only been a week but already I’m over it!
I never really knew much about Helen other than she was both blind and deaf but with nothing else to do I decided to get to know her. Born in 1888, she didn’t actually acquire her disabilities until she was 19 months old, as a result of an unknown illness. From then she was able to learn to fully communicate (first alone and then with the help of her teacher/companion Anne Sullivan who was also blind) and going on to be the first blind and deaf person to complete a Bachelor of Arts. She then went on to publish numerous books and articles and became a very well respected and highly sort after public speaker. Remember this woman was blind AND DEAF!

This is fascinating to me. This was in the late 1800’s and early 1900’s. There were no computers with talking software, no hearing aids that do everything except cook you breakfast and no Siri. How did she cope?

I’ve heard it debated which of the two ailments would be the worst to be afflicted with and in my experience I think hearing loss is the clear winner. When you’re blind it can be hard to orientate yourself and navigate unknown environments but with training, perseverance and a good guide this can be overcome in time. Luckily after having no sight at all I now have approximately 30 per cent vision. I still miss subtle visual cues and can miss when trying to shake hands, take something from someone or try and give them a peck on the cheek, and break the odd glass or ornament, but that affects my ego not my quality of life.

When you are unable to hear your ability to communicate is immensely depleted. There is little enjoyment of music, television and other auditory pursuits. Unfortunately you can learn to see you with your other senses such as touch but this is not the same with hearing.  As a chatterbox the inability to hold a proper conversation for an entire week has been pure torture.  As has the seductive little number 2 above my podcasts App letting me that there are two new episodes of my favourite pod cast which I can not hear.

I have written this post in two parts and as I sit here today I have my hearing back! Apparently all it took was a doctor to actually look in my ear and prescribe the correct antibiotics and hey presto! Thank goodness for that!

Coincidently I happen to be having an absolutely fabulous weekend so I have decided that I am sick of being sick and I am now going to take my cranky pants off, and put the milking stool away.

Oh and I almost forgot, I will now need to formally retract my application for a position as an AFL umpire for the 2014 Premiership Season. Being that I have now regained my hearing and am simply blind I am no longer fully qualified!



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