Staring into the computer screen, I watched my relay call get dropped for the third time in a row. I buried my face into my palms, fighting the urge to scream.
I needed to make such an important call, and I wasn’t getting anywhere fast as I sat there trying to get my interpreter back in hopes of finishing this task.
I groaned in frustration.
My husband, who was working from home, waved his hands to get my attention, and I let him know he had it. He signed, “What’s wrong?” I told him of the issues I was having with my computer, and, as I did, I grabbed my Android, turning on my relay app, with hopes it would work better through this device.
It drops again. I try closer to the modem, and it still fails. My husband shows his sympathy as I voice my frustration. A videophone/relay service care representative helps in determining it was my internet to be the problem. A speed test revealed it was too slow for video calls.
Our internet service provider fortunately had an online chat feature, which was doable with the turtle like speed my wi-fi was giving me. “It’s your modem! Let us send you a new one.” What a relief! It was fixable! “It will most likely arrive in about two to three days.” My heart sank. He then sends me another message, “It might come tomorrow since we are dealing with this so early in the day.” I had hope again, but it still didn’t solve the problem at hand.
I still needed to make an appointment with an audiologist.
My one and only working hearing aid had broken into three pieces, no thanks to weak tubing on both the hearing aid and in the ear mold. Fortunately the tube parts could be replaced, but only an audiologist would have the parts to replace them with.
I knew I also needed a new audiogram done. It’s a basic test to see what kind of hearing loss there is in both ears. I had to have this proof to get services. I had one done three years ago, but they wanted a new one.
I had to roll my eyes. It’s not like my hearing will ever get better. It’s been the same since I was three years old. My right ear was with profound loss and the left was only severe. It’s never really changed since then.
Life can be so challenging without hearing aids, I mused. Yet, even with hearing aids, I still used relay to make calls, but with no viable internet service, I was literally stranded with no way to call out.
My husband could call for me, but he was busy working hard, and I knew I needed to fix this myself.
We ordered lunch, and I watched outside for the delivery, knowing I would not be able to hear the knock on the door. At that moment, I decided I needed to get a door light. I didn’t want to feel this trapped again. “Maybe get a hearing dog?” The idea sounded really interesting. I made a mental note to do some research on that.
After eating lunch, I tell my husband that I would drive to the library to use their internet and make some phone calls. He signs for me to be safe and to text him if I was able to get an appointment. I told him I would.
At the library, which I knew would be quiet on it’s own, but for me, I heard nothing at all. No shuffling of books, no slightly squeaky carts being pushed down the aisles, no slight murmur of people discreetly holding a conversation, or even the sound of the loud air conditioning blowing over the vents above my head. It was nothing at all.
I logged online and pasted in a phone number into my videophone program on my computer and braced with hope it wouldn’t drop. To my delight, it went smoothly as it should, and after a few other calls, I had found the right audiologist to make an appointment with. They would be able to take me in the next day!
Once that was done, it made me think on how I made my calls before internet. I smiled to think of the little white machine I had gotten in middle school. My first TDD (Tele-communication Device for the Deaf) was so amazing to me, and I learned the brief codes in calls, such as GA (Go Ahead) and SK (Stop Keying). The latter was the TDD way of saying, “I’m done and going to hang up.” When my TDD light would flash, I ran as a typical teenager to answer the call. There were some friends I would talk for a long time with, and there were others that made their conversations brief. My typing skills became fluid with the use of the TDD.
It wasn’t until I was at Gallaudet when internet came into the picture, which was filled with AOL Instant Messaging, emails, and other chat platforms.
Then came along the “cell phones” for the deaf, which were basically texting phones without the audio portion of the device.
My favorite of these kind of devices at that time was called a Sidekick, and now that dinosaur has been buried by the multitudes of smartphones we use today.
Some of these amazing smartphones have become the ear and the voice for deaf people. Nyle’s phone on ANTM (America’s Next Top Model) is a great example of this. Seeing him on that show makes me so proud of him, but that’s a whole different blogging subject.
Tomorrow, I can look forward to and hope for my hearing aid to be fixed. Even if it does, I won’t depend on them so much anymore. I’ve learned that I can function fairly well without them. I could lipread my hearing friends, and some of them knew basic signs. They were all patient with me and made sure I could see what they were saying. Even in church, despite the many hindrances of trying to read lips around a microphone, speakers moving around the stage (which is a challenge and a half when it comes to lip reading), and the fact I didn’t have an interpreter that day. Powerpoint slides helped, and I know now what I need to do to make sure I got as much as I could.
I won’t go into detail on that… It’s a mission I’m on. It’s a mission: Impossible kind of thing, but only possible through God.
I’m blasting music though my earbuds, simulating my brain with sounds, even though they’re not sharp and clear as they are with hearing aids. But, it’s time for me to quite down my brain soon to sleep. Music will need to go soon. The silence should do me good.