Friday, December 28, 2007

Deaf people CAN and WILL eat Chocolate!

The words 'Deaf and Dumb' used to go hand in hand many years ago. I think it took many years of fighting by the deaf community for the stigma that if you were deaf, you were dumb, to wear off. I have had a couple of instances in my life where I have experienced this. The worst one ever was when I was secretary of our hearing impaired Club 'The What? Club'. It was a phone call that went something like this..

Stranger: "Hello - I'm enquiring about the What? Club"

Me: "Oh hello, I'm only too happy to help - what would you like to know?"

Stranger: "Anything you can tell me really"

So I go on to explain where we meet and how often and the type of outings/fun things we get up to, the number of members and the age range etc...'

Stranger: "Oh this sounds wonderful - but I should tell you, it's not for me, but my son, but he's not deaf, he's just a bit slow as in mentally retarded, but thats okay isn't it because deaf people are slow anyway?"

Me - opening and shutting my mouth like a fish out of water totally flabbergasted "I dont think so - I don't think the club will be suitable for your son" and I hung up.

I was ropeable, angry, livid, outraged for about 5 minutes, when it dawned on me that it's not the deaf that are dumb, but people's attitudes about deafness. Fortunately this doesn't happen often, and for the last 10 years, with near normal hearing, I've had very little experience of these attitudes. Naively I thought that things had improved. Then my implant stopped working and I can no longer hear on the phone. All of a sudden, I realise that things haven't really improved, I have just been protected by having good hearing.

Take today for instance. I sent an email to a business organisation, and specifically asked them to contact me via email as I was deaf, and could not hear on the phone. They emailed me like I asked, attaching an 0800 phone number asking me to ring them back. Hellooooooo!!

If this was a one off, I could understand, but last month I wanted to purchase a particular kind of chocolate from a Nelson company that is very very nice, for christmas gifts. I found their email on the website (there was nothing else on their website), and emailed them asking if they could email me back with some of their retailers in Auckland, so I could buy their products. I again explained that I was deaf so email was the only way to communicate with me.

They sent me an email back asking me to contact the manager, with a phone number to ring. I sent an email back reminding them what I said, again explaining I was deaf. To this day I haven't heard back. They obviously don't want deaf people to buy their chocolate.

So the Deaf - yes - that applies to me, but I think the dumb really applies to a large percentage of population out there that can't see/read, or follow instructions properly. It really does make life frustrating though.

The photo above is by Brittany in the USA. It can be found here

Brittany's deviantart webpage

Wednesday, December 26, 2007

Hearing Blips at Christmas

Christmas 2007 is over thank goodness.  I unfortunately had to hit the shops this morning to return a present I had doubled up on, and got caught up in all the Boxing Day Sales at the new Albany mall.  You would think that people would have had enough of shopping by christmas, but no, people were out in force today again. Crazy!

Anyway - we had a great Christmas day with friends and family, starting with the traditional breakfast at my place, opening presents, then having a dirty santa.  No one played dirty this year, we were obviously all very happy with the gifts we opened, and no-one stole presents off anyone.  I wore my Santa Hat all day that had the words 'Ho Ho Ho' on them, even though it's meant to be derogatory to prostitutes and might scare little children!

After the usual midday xmas day walk, then snooze, we went on up to my brothers, and had too much champagne, and more food.  Guilt free for me as I did that 30km walk on Sunday so was allowed to eat and drink what I liked for one day :)

Then we decided to play cards.  My daughter told us we were going to play dump!  Weird name for a card game, but picked up the gist of the game quickly.  Basically, the idea was to 'dump' as many cards as you can, and the winner was the one who got rid of all their cards first.  I vaguely remember playing something like it years ago, but couldn't remember it ever being called dump. When a person won a hand they were given the title of  'president', and the one who came second was 'vice president'.  The person who lost was 'dump', and the person who came 2nd to last was 'vice dump'.  I still found this strange and  I even lost one hand and said I'm 'dump' - but no one said anything. They most likely thought I had said 'I'm Dumb'!!!  Nobody refuted it !!

Copious amounts of alcohol was drunk, many many laughs, screams of joy from the presidents and vice presidents, groans from the dumps and vice dumps!  

Driving home I mentioned to my daughter that I really enjoyed the evening and that we should play dump again soon.

"Dump?"  she said cracking up.

I looked at her and said - "Yes - the game was excellent"

"Dump?" she said again laughing..

"Have I got the name wrong?"

'it's SCUMMMMMMM"  she said laughing even more

"I mumbled under my breath something about being deaf etc..."

Makes sense - scum, vice scum.  Damn my Cochlear Implant not working properly though.  I obviously need to improve my lipreading a bit more, although I guess when everyone has been drinking, the words look similar on the lips!  I remember playing Scum before now too.  Sigh!  I want to hear properly again!!

Monday, December 24, 2007

In Training

Whose idea was it to do the Oxfam Challenge – to walk 100km in 36 hours? It did really sound like a good idea at the time – but now I’m questioning our sanity!

We started training about 6 weeks ago, and it started off okay, with a 2 hour amble through Woodhill Forest. But things are getting really serious now, and last Sunday our amble got up to a 6 hour hike. That’s 30km. And to think we have walk almost four times that distance to complete the challenge!

Our group consists of coach Derek, and 7 of us ‘girls’ and Molly the dog. I’m sure Derek is the envy of every male in New Zealand. He gets to go walking with 7 females every single weekend, for hours at a time, listening in to our conversations that get smuttier and smuttier every week. He tells us he’s going to wear earplugs the next walk, but he never does, so I am of the opinion that he enjoys being corrupted!

Being out in the forest for so long brings challenges to all of us. There are no toilets, spas, masseuse’s, manicurists, in fact, the forest is devoid of anything civilized. Derek encourages us on our walks by telling us he has organized 9 hot firemen to massage our legs at the end of the walk. We are always severely disappointed to find them ‘called away to a fire’!

Up until our six hour walk last Sunday, I was always able to ‘hold on’ to my drinking water until we got back to civilization, which was a relief as because of my lack of balance (no balance nerves intact), I cannot squat without falling over. I don’t relish the thought of going head first, or bottoms up in the middle of my ablutions, for obvious reasons!

However, I have to drink while out walking, as becoming dehydrated is not an option, and 6 hours is a rather long time to hold on, and in the end, I had to give in! I strayed from the path, went deep into the woods, and found a tree stump. Perfect. Feeling very relieved, I rearranged my clothes and popped back onto the path again and started walking. Now everyone that knows me, knows I have an aversion to needles of any kind, (especially ones that come near my ears)! Within minutes, walking became very uncomfortable. I even looked around to see if my ENT doc was following me!! But no, it seems that several tonnes of pine-needles had removed themselves from the tree-stump, and were now embedded in my nether regions.

I’m wondering if I should be carrying around some stickers/signs to slap on to the tree-stumps deep deep in the woods ‘This stump has been used as a ladies room, please do not use as a picnic table’!

The walk got harder. Derek decided to make us walk along the beach for a while. Having no balance makes walking on sand extremely difficult for me. The tide was in too, which meant there was no ‘hard’ sand – just sand that you sank into up to your ankles, which was really hard on your muscles. After half an hour  we were finally allowed to head back into the forest. Up a really steep steep dune, then down an even steeper one meant I fell over about 3 or 4 times. Now, not only did I have moss and pine-needles in my nether regions, but I was also covered in black sand, stuck to me like glue. No amount of ‘dusting off’ removed any sand.

Oh well – we had a break, drank some more water, ate a bit of food. I had my second protein bar – big mistake. Saluma brought out Christmas Crackers and marshmellow Santas. I love Saluma! The Christmas cracker contained the usual paper hat, toy, and joke. As I had no sunhat, I popped the green paper hat on my head, and wore it all the way back to the carpark.

It started raining. I moved the paper hat over my cochlear implant microphone to stop it getting wet. Brilliantly perfect for the job :) But - the dye of the hat ran. When I got home, I found I was a little green around the gills!

The protein bars are excellent. Even though they look like something the dog ate… twice (The chocolate ones especially)! They keep me from feeling hungry, and give me loads of energy. Energy in, energy out unfortunately. The now peaceful forest walk, is peppered with small thermonuclear explosions. I thought I was doing well, Molly the dog is a great sport, taking the blame well. Until Derek came up and said to me… ‘Was that you?’


“Are you sure? I wondered if it were Molly, but she’s on the other side of the road!”

“Welllllllll maybe one!!! But mine don’t smell so how do you know?”

“You need to get your sinuses checked!!”

It couldn’t have been that bad – as everybody survived, and we all finished. Exhausted, hot, thirsty, and wondering how on earth are we going to walk four times that distance!!

Lastly – for those who want to see where we walk – the beautiful pristine forest, that smells of Christmas, with pine needles covering sandy trails, deer that cross our paths, and cheeky fantails that come down and chatter at us, then take a good look at the following image…