For your convenience, all Reader’s Forum submissions are separated by the ## symbol.
In response to Feature Writer Lynne Tatum – Experiences of a Different World, Mary wrote:
In response to Lynne Tatum’s article about hearing loss, I lost half my hearing back in 1978. As a blind person with a tiny bit of light perception, it was difficult to get used to hearing on only one side. I didn’t have much time to adjust to it, however, because as an employed person, I had to take the bus across town as usual to go back to work just a few days after the diagnosis.
The main problem I’ve experienced is the lack of ability to tell where sounds are coming from. Everything sounds like it comes from the sky. Because of this, I have no audio guide to keep me walking straight, so I use vibrating aids to find objects in front of me or to the side. This doesn’t always work, but these devices–a Mowat sensor, and more recently a Miniguide–have not only helped with this, but have helped me detect when a car is coming toward me or is in my way. These two devices have saved my life numerous times.
Another major problem occurs when somebody is speaking to me when they’re on my deaf side. I have no way of hearing them unless I turn my head around. Most of the time I don’t hear them; this is especially true when we’re outside, where sound can’t bounce off the walls and get to my good ear, or in very large, echo-filled rooms such as auditoriums or churches. Restaurants are also a problem because of the background noise. I have no way to isolate voices in social situations, so I miss a lot of what’s going on. I can even get lost in my apartment if I have no tactile clues to indicate where I am walking.
The third major problem is the lack of ability to hear stereo. I miss that experience very much; I used to love listening to music with stereo headphones. To get around this, I have a mixing board set up with stereo components attached; I can adjust the left and right channels so that everything is on my left side, and I can then hear everything, but it’s not stereo.
For a while I had a Telex cross-aid, a hearing aid that had a microphone on my deaf side; it sent sound to the good side. It kept breaking down or falling off my head, so I eventually stopped using it. The sounds kept getting mixed up anyway and I couldn’t tell where sounds came from; nor could I hear speech any better since it got mixed in with other sounds.
Hearing loss inhibits travel ability because traffic patterns are meaningless. Becoming oriented to a building or walking straight across parking lots can be a huge challenge. My cane and Miniguide help, but I have no “echo location” on my deaf side. There may be a wall beside me, but I don’t know about it until I run into it.
I hope some of this has helped you get an idea of what hearing loss is like.
In response to Feature Writer Lynne Tatum – Experiences of a Different World, Beth wrote:
I have been totally blind since near birth due to retinopathy of prematurity and, about 4 years ago, I lost all usable hearing on the left side, overnight symptomatically, a virus had killed the little hair cells deep in the ear, probably owing to an upper respiratory infection I had had months earlier. Since the hearing loss, I have had continuous loud left ear ringing, episodic sudden disorientation and dizziness, even in my home, and greatly decreased sound localization ability, with my brain also sometimes being tricked into thinking a sound comes from one side when it really was on the other. Hearing sounds of daily living can be decreased sometimes too. My E.N.T. doctor advised me not to get a hearing aid, since he thought that my balance issues would only worsen with one, since I hear so well on the right and so badly on the left. I believe in playing well the hand you’re dealt in life, so I continue to learn and grow on my journey.
On another note, I am researching various note takers and companies regarding product and company quality and customer service. The main contenders seem to be HIMS and Humanware and soon A.P.H., with their upcoming new android-based unit. What experiences have you guys had with note taker companies, positive and negative? I’m looking forward to “Readers’ Forum” submissions regarding this topic. Thanks.
In response to Feature Writer Lynne Tatum – Experiences of a Different World, Keith wrote:
I just want to say that I’m totally blind from birth, and thus I’m very auditory by nature. I began to lose my hearing in junior high school.
I was quite literally struggling mightily to keep my head above water including my job, marriage, and everything else when I learned of the benefits of a cochlear implant in 2004, when I began teaching myself about this.
Long story short, the next year, I received my first implant, and last year, my second one, and I cannot express the wonder and joy of life that has been given back to me through this miracle, and I do mean that literally.
In response to the Letter from the Editor regarding Free Matter mail, Danni wrote:
I have a couple suggestions as well!
First, often you can find rolls of brown paper at the dollar store for covering packages, though FedEx does not allow that, so be aware!
Second another option would be to cut down 1 corner of the box and turn it inside out and tape it down then you have a blank box. It works great!
In response to the Letter from the Editor regarding Free Matter mail, Sally wrote:
I have called the post office and have gotten conflicting information. Some say because I am blind I can send all my mail this way, including Christmas cards and bills. Others say that I have to put a brailled letter in an unsealed envelope with an addressed envelope included so the post office can take out my brailled letter to make sure it is in a blind format. I find this an invasion of privacy and anyway I don’t do braille…I have also Googled free matter and have gotten conflicting information. I have a free matter stamp, but have yet to use it as I am confused.
On another topic, I would like to ask the readers if they have trouble with sleeping due to their blindness. I went to my eye specialist yesterday. I have some light perception in one eye but no useable vision. My doctor mentioned Circadian Rhythms and how important being able to have light perception helps with your sleep cycle. She said she knew I have no useful vision but if I lost the light perception I would be dealing with a whole new ball game. She suggested I take Melatonin. I thought this was something you shouldn’t take on a long term basis. She said there was no documentation on this. I asked my pharmacist and he wasn’t very helpful. I would like other’s opinions on the use of Melatonin and the importance of maintaining light perception.