There are a bunch of posts worth of content talking about this new development in my life, and my goal is to be as open as I possibly can be to harbor conversation and help dispel some of the harmful assumptions I know people make about hearing aids.
But, we’ll start with this: the great deal of thought I put into talking about my hearing aids. How you start the conversation regarding a development, particularly one that will leave people uncertain whether they should be expressing sympathy or excitement, completely sets the tone for how others view your development. Apparently I gave that advice to a friend going through a divorce who wanted people to realize that her life was getting better, not worse, and the same advice applied to me with this so she gave the advice back.
Initially I was hesitant about how wearing hearing aids could affect my perception at work. My hearing loss does not negatively impact my ability to do any aspect of my job. The hearing aids and self advocacy prevent me from having any fear at all about my continued ability to do the job that I currently do –in fact, I’ve been doing this job for a year now WITHOUT hearing aids, without anyone noticing. But I still had (have!) anxieties that simply the presence of hearing aids will influence coworkers to assume that I am limited in some capacity, even though my actual hearing loss did not lead them to these conclusions. I’m not in a scary situation where I’m having to worry about my capability to do my job, or searching for an alternative career path because of it. So don’t panic on my behalf.
I also wanted to be very clear up front that no one needed to feel sorry or worried for me. There are of course some moments of dwelling or self-reflection where I start to get a bit bummed, but in general hearing loss is a known struggle due to my growing up with a mother with hearing loss, one I’ve at least theoretically prepared for my whole life, and most certainly not the end of the world. I’ve chosen to take a very proud and head-on approach to this hearing loss, and to both recognize it as a disability in certain situations but also simply as a quirk, a personal trait of my body and life. It is not a secret any longer, and I have a sense of humor about it, so I want other people to feel they can have a sense of humor about it too. It’s not a death sentence (ALMOST WROTE DEAF SENTENCE) and in reality, it’s not that much different from someone who needs glasses and to sit at the front of the room so they can see the board.
So after much thought about the best way to do so, I finally announced my hearing aid acquisition this morning. First I tweeted
Look at my new accessories! pic.twitter.com/vL6ghtmk5Y
— Jessa Brezinski (@JessaBrez) May 2, 2014
I then tweeted
Followed by a third tweet saying
Still getting used to hearing aids but chat with me about them & I promise not to make you feel bad I’m one step closer to Robocop than you
— Jessa Brezinski (@JessaBrez) May 2, 2014
I copied this same thing over to Facebook and let the words work their magic.
My hope is that I’m setting a tone that will let people know that (if they even notice the hearing aids), they should feel comfortable mentioning them. I’ll be decorating them, so that should also help –you can compliment my hearing aids just like you would compliment someone’s cute eyeball aids– I mean glasses. And I’m hoping that making people feel comfortable with the existence of hearing loss can aid in discussion about hearing loss in general and help dispel this fear that still exists in a large amount of the population in interacting with people with hearing aids.
So step one: make Twitter jokes, done.
Step two: polka dotting these babies for ultimate fashion.
Step three: Answer questions as they come up, but otherwise not lead my life significantly different in any way due to the use of hearing aids.
Step four: Find an excuse to buy and wear these FAIRY WINGS THAT ATTACH TO YOUR HEARING AIDS: https://www.etsy.com/listing/171272868/custom-hearing-aid-fairy-wings-made-to?ref=favs_view_21
Our first day in Chiang Mai, coming off the overnight train up from Bangkok, was actually a pretty slow and lazy one. We caught a cab across town into Old Town, where we stayed at the beautiful Rich Lanna Hotel. Easily the nicest room I’ve ever stayed in, and because they knew we were coming on our honeymoon, they even had towels in the shape of swans, rose petals, and a printed out Bible verse about love on our bed.
We weren’t able to check in right away, so we dropped our things off and went for a walk to find lunch, explore a bit, kind of get our bearings. We napped in the afternoon, realizing that the dog that had been barking all morning was not going to stop (and never did stop in the four days we were there…)
The real fun for the day though was wandering over to the Night Market. I’d heard this was one of the best nightmarkets in Thailand, and it did not disappoint. We chose to walk there, which took much longer than we’d expected, but it was absolutely worth the walk.
Stalls, lights, food everywhere. Tourist trinkets, household items, art, clothing, you know it. It was somehow less overwhelming and more magical than the market in Bangkok, maybe because it had cooled off at night and the lights overhead made it seem like a party.
Frank spotted one of those tanks where you get a fish pedicure. Two other tourists were perched at one, giggling to the point of tears. Frank jokingly said we should try it and of course I’m all in, so we tossed our shoes in the back, paid our Baht for 15 minutes, and plunged our feet in. The sensation is so so so difficult to describe. It’s exactly what you think dozens of tiny fish nibbling on your feet would feel like. Every once in a while one of the larger breeds would nip me enough to make me jump, and it was really discomfiting when fish would work their way in between your toes to nibble there. I bet I’m making some people squirm just writing this.
This is also when I learned Frank is painfully ticklish on his feet. After 10 minutes, he was still cry-laughing. I really thought he’d wet his pants (he assured me he didn’t). For 15 minutes we and the people on the other two tanks drew a crowd with our reactions which put the fish pedicure place in a steady business for the rest of the evening. You’re welcome!
We continued to wander, listened to some country western music streaming from a bar in the market, perused candles and teas and instruments and everything you can really imagine.
Eventually we headed back to try and make an early night of it, stopping to get some yummy candy on the way, because the next day was our first full and busy day and we had to get an early start! But not before buying a bajillion bean and pork buns to snack on!