Monday, August 01, 2005

Talking in the Dark

Communicating in the dark has always been difficult for me. Once the lights are off (or even dimmed) I'm basically non-functional. I've been blessed with a family that is considerate and thoughtful of my need to communicate when I can't see or hear to lip-read. For example, Steve and I are not like normal couples at night when we go to bed. We cannot talk in the dark and have those "little" conversations in bed like other couples. Nor can he whisper "sweet nothings" in my ear. But we have other ways. I take my "ears" (hearing aids) and "eyes" (glasses) off every night and cannot see or hear anything. One will always notice flashlights on our nightstands in our bedroom. Last night Steve needed to tell me that Brad was home (after we had already gone to sleep). He knows that I do not sleep well until all the kids are home and safe. All Steve had to do was "write" the letters B-R-A-D with his finger on my back. When he was finished, I said, "Is Brad home?" He tapped me on the back, which meant "Yes." Sometimes Steve will pick up my arm and "write" letters or words in palm of my hand. We usually communicate well in the dark that way. All of our children have been good about coming in our bedroom at night to give me a hug or kiss to let me know that they are home since I don't have the benefit of being able to hear cars, the key turning in the lock, the door open, the dog bark, etc. when they come in the house.

I have also been woken up in the middle of the night by Steve or one of the kids when the police needed to talk to me or Steve. Talk about a rude awakening. Three of our four children have snuck out of the house at night at one time or another after I've gone to bed and were brought back home by the police because they were out past curfew. (The fourth one has probably snuck out, too, but never got caught!) Police officers like to speak to a parent to make sure someone is home. I'm a little worried that I might "hear" things that I don't want to hear after my implant. But, the kids are older now and I will still sleep without my hearing devices at night. If I know I'm going to be alone in the house for the night, I'll sleep with my cell phone under my pillow. The vibration will wake me up if someone needs to get a hold of me. (I don't talk on the phone but my family knows that my phone will alert me if there is a text message. Also, if I see a phone number on the caller id, I can always call back using relay.) Sometimes I'll sleep with my hearing aid on in one ear but I do not sleep well because I'm not used to hearing all the sounds of the night. I feel pretty safe with Riga (our German Shepherd) by my side when I'm alone in the house. She is my "ears" for me and will let me know if there is something going on. She is very good about waking me up in the morning when my light comes on. Sometimes she wakes me up BEFORE it is time to get up!

Also, when I travel in the car, communication can be difficult riding in the dark. I try to position myself so I won't miss too much of the conversation. Usually, I have to sit in bored silence and watch the scenery because it is hard for me to lipread in the dark or from behind with a mirror. Turning on the lights and trying to turn around is stressful, even if I could understand what was being said. I always need to look at the person who is talking. To turn around is inconvenient and is usually not worth the trouble because I am not always able to lipread the person in the back seat because I've already missed half of the message. Some people think they have to look at me while they are driving and that is a little scary when they really should have their eyes on the road. I can understand the driver as long as I'm in the front seat. I also tell people that I can't "talk and drive" at the same time when I'm driving. I have to turn my eyes away from the road to read their lips and that isn't always a good idea!

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