Freedom pass!

This past week has been exhausting. From stomach bugs to back pain. I’m so glad it’s the weekend and I can relax! My birthday celebration starts tomorrow at an Italian restaurant with James’ family – I cannot wait!

From the age of 14 maybe even younger, I’ve known you can get a disability freedom pass. Me being stubborn as a mule didn’t want to get one. Now that I work and earn my own money. Travelling into London is bloody expensive! So I caved in and applied for a pass back in November, I still haven’t received it and they emailed me last week saying they needed evidence. So, I rang up the audiology department and from the second they know who I am, theeeeeey taaaaaaalk tooooooo yooooou liiiiiike thiiiiiiiis and it’s excruciatingly painful, I actually said ‘ I can hear you perfectly fine, please don’t talk like that.’

They sent me a letter of evidence, I read it and this bit here, made me think and chuckle, they have no idea what I’ve done with my life…They have no idea what I have achieved.

I travelled to Australia on my own when I was 16, I travelled and lived in Cape Town on my own when I was 19 for 3 weeks. I CAN DO ANYTHING and EVERYTHING!

Yes, I may not hear all sounds, but crossing the road you turn your head left and right and at a crossing if I’m not with James and I don’t want to risk it I wait for the green man. I don’t ever walk out of the door without my hearing aid, if my battery runs out ( the amount of times I leave my batteries at home is shocking ) and it’s dark outside I’ll get an Uber home. With my hearing aid I can hear if someone is behind me, I can hear if a car is coming.

From audiology departments to schools d/Deaf children and adults are already under the “they cannot do it” “they are underachievers anyway” label and I call that absolutely RIDICULOUS! Anyone can do anything if they set their mind to it.

A chef called Jack

If anyone knows me, knows that I loathe and I mean loathe cooking. I’ve burnt salad, I’ve had to call the fire brigade as I burn my steak and it caught fire. I am not blessed in the kitchen. Considering I’m half Italian, it’s quite sad!

James and I went have been to Mexico twice. We adore it and love the food. So for part of his birthday present, I bought him a Mexican street food lesson at the Jamie Oliver school in London.

All day Sunday, I was not looking forward to it I was exhausted and just wanted to sleep. I thought it’s going to be so loud, I won’t be able to hear and it’ll just be pointless…

I was wrong. So so wrong, when James and I arrived we were greeted by a Chef called Jack, who handed us a glass of Prosecco each and just made us feel right at home.

We sat down, waiting to be called up so that he could demonstrate what we had to do.

Eventually, he came back and called us up. He had what I call a deaf person’s dream voice, loud, clear and faced the front. Not once, did I have to go oh by the way I’m deaf, can you say that again. There were minimal background sounds and all I could hear was him. There were times I didn’t understand if he had to turn his backs to us, then I’d ask James what he said and it was usually sometimes unimportant.

While he was talking about what we were cooking you could see the pure passion, love for food that he had. He was so animated and excited.

He showed us the first half, how to cook the chicken and then make the sweet corn with coriander and chilli.

I even helped make the tortilla, chop some coriander. James couldn’t believe him self when he saw me cooking or even trying for that matter.

We then topped up our drinks and then listened to the second half of the demonstration.

After the second demonstration. We cooked our finial bits. By this point we were both starving!

So, our homemade corn tortillas, guacamole, tomato salsa, charred sweet corn with coriander and chilli, chicken thighs slow cooked in a smoked chipotle sauce and spinach with feta cheese and tomato was a success.

When you are passionate about anything and you show people your skills like Jack did, it shows through and is contagious. I went from loathing cooking 6 hours before to absolutely loving it 6 hours later.

Sometimes you’ve got to get out of your comfort zone. Sometimes you’ve just got to stop listening to the voices you heard for so long, YOU CAN DO IT! Try it and give it again. Failure is not a sign of weakness.

I’ve put the link to the school at the bottom. I suggest you go and give it ago! It is amazing and such a great experience.

But, you don’t look deaf?

2 phrases that I get a lot are: ” but, you don’t look deaf? and ” Hearing aids are amazing, you don’t struggle at all then”.

Let’s discuss phrase one: What does a deaf person look like? I’m I meant to have DEAF tattooed on my forehead? Or is there specific way we need to act or dress that I wasn’t aware of? If someone says they are d/Deaf or hearing impaired and you don’t know what to say. Don’t say anything at all, it’s better to say nothing at all than patronise.

Phrase two: Just because we wear hearing aids doesn’t mean we are ‘cured’, hearing aids are NOT a cure. They are there to help us hear but, we still struggle. I cannot watch a movie without subtitles, if the volume is low I can hear noise but it’s incoherent to me, if I’m in a restaurant and it’s loud, I struggle to hear what people are saying on my table, if I’m on a busy train and I can’t see the stops written, everyone is talking I cannot hear the train announcement. Hearing aids amplify the sounds but doesn’t mean it makes it easy for us to understand. We do struggle, it is hard sometimes and it is frustrating!

If you’re anything like me who forgets their hearing batteries on a daily basis, sometimes I have to go through a dinner without my hearing aid and do you know how exhausting that is? Trying to lip read in dim lighting and lip read maybe 6/7 people at the same time!

Don’t down play d/Deafness, because it is a daily struggle, wether you have hearing aids or not.

To sign or not to sign…

Signing has always been something people assume I know how to do because I’m deaf. I think when parents have a child who is deaf it is hard to choose whether they should learn how to sign.

For me I wish I could sign. As that would mean I could communicate with the deaf community There’s nothing stopping me to learn now! When you have a child who is deaf I think it is important to give them everything, so when they grow up. They can choose what they want to use.

I’ve heard people say ” well, what are hearings for then, if you’re going to sign.” Well, hearing aids are just a tool to help you hear better. Some people in the Deaf community don’t believe in hearing aids and prefer to sign, for people like me who don’t sign, makes it harder for me to make friends with people who cannot hear at all and only sign. Which means it automatically separates me from the community.

Signing isn’t just for the Deaf community. I think hearing and hearing impaired should learn how to sign. Let’s say you work in a coffee shop and someone who is deaf signs to you what coffee they want and if you can sign back. Trust me it’ll make that person feel extra special and happy that you’ve not only taken time to understand their language but they are understood.

That being said, going to go on the BSL website and pay £19 to do an online course! 🙂

That’s the way it is!

Throughout my life I’ve overcome many obstacles. Being deaf, being diagnosed with charge syndrome, being diagnosed with a heart condition, having multiple surgeries and doctor appointments, bullied, parents divorce, watching my friend die, depression and post traumatic stress.

That’s life. Life is up and down. It is not as straight forward as we want it to be. I’ve had people say ” I have no idea how you stay so positive all the time ” 2 things, number 1, I’m not always positive but I try, heck I’m not perfect! Number 2, I have a choice and I choose to learn from the experience not let it get me down. Life is what you make it. If you choose to live your life miserable and complaining all the time, then in my eyes what is the point? Yes, yes, you can say “oh but you don’t know the things I went through”. Yes. You’re right. But, you can either chose to learn from it and help others or be miserable and negative for the rest of your life.

We are here once, we live this life once. Make a choice today to live it as happy as you can. Don’t let anything abuse, depression, disability, neglect or anything like this to become your identity.

Just say the words!

Sometimes, part of my job I have to answer phones or liaise with people. Now, instead of saying I can’t hear you and then getting annoyed because I assume in my mind that they should know I’m Deaf.

This morning, I did it! I was on the phone and the client said well why don’t you go somewhere quieter and I said well, I’m profoundly deaf. Silence. There was just silence. It was like she didn’t know what to say.

I think there’s a lesson, if someone can’t hear you be patient. Because you NEVER KNOW! They may be deaf or hearing impaired and don’t want to admit it to the other person.

I never said it to clients as I thought it was none of their business. But, it is! Because I have to book their appointments.

So, if your somewhere and you can’t hear someone. SAY IT! Say those words.

I am deaf or I am hearing impaired. Trust me. Once you do, you feel so much better. Yes you may get awkward silences and apologetic looks. Isn’t that better than the other person thinking you’re just being annoying!

Say it, admit it, be deaf and proud!

Sorry what did you say?

Sorry, haven’t been regular with the blogs. I’ve had the flu all week and I’ve not even had proper time to sit and write.

I’ve been thinking about what are the most patronising things to say to deaf people? Here are my things that I loathe and why:

1) You say something, we go sorry, what did you say? Then you go it doesn’t matter. Argh! This is the most frustrating because you know we are deaf, so why wouldn’t you repeat it for us? What’s the issue?

2) AAAAARE YOOOOOOU OOOOOOOK? If you want to get a slap, this is one way to get one. We are not dumb, we are not stupid. Plus, why do you think speaking louder will make us understand what you’ve said? Speak clearly and to our face and we will do just fine.

3) I know that when you throw a dinner party, you want to create ambiance. But for heavens sake, turn off the music and turn up the lights to the full, we need to be able to see your face and background music low volume, not so loud that I’m listening to the music more than I’m listening to you.

4) Why would you cover your mouth and ask if we can hear? That’s just selfish and rude.

So, now you know the few things not to do if you know that someone is deaf. We are normal person and want to be treated like one!