When I was in Norway recently, my tinnitus faded away. It took me a while to work out that it flares up as a result of trying to lipread. Something about the brain strain involved in lipreading seems to switch on these phantom noises.
Since I came home, I’ve been trying to make some changes to my life, in the hope that I can lipread a little less. I’m wearing my hearing aids less. I’m asking people to write to me in my ‘talking book’ rather than assuming I’ll shoulder the burden of communication.
I took a deep breath and asked my family to learn to sign. I assumed it would be too much hassle for them to learn, and then I realised, I hadn’t actually ASKED them. So I did, which made me feel awkward and embarrassed. But now several of them are making the effort to try and learn my language.
When I arrived at my parents’ house to teach them the first lesson, my mum spoke to me. I didn’t understand her. After asking her to repeat herself three times, she lifted her hands and began to fingerspell her words. I was so stunned I actually cried. I never thought this day would come.
Whether my family actually does manage to go on and learn sign or not, I have stood up for myself as a Deaf person and asked for visual communication so that I can relax more, instead of being constantly alert to the possibility of someone speaking to me.
I thought it was too much of an imposition, to ask people to write, or to learn to sign for me. But now that I am asking, it is becoming clear that for some people it IS an imposition, but many people are actually happy to try and accomodate my needs.
That’s why I painted this on the front cover of my new journal. It’s a theme for me right now.
Someone asked me about painting this really big, for her wall. I am so inspired by the idea that even if she doesn’t go ahead with it, I think I will paint an enormous version anyway, for me.
If you like her, she is in my shop with the print.