Planning a wedding when you’re hearing impaired: My experience

From the moment you get engaged it’s a whirlwind of celebrations, congratulatory messages and reading tons of bridal magazines. But what happens when you’re actually not THAT excited about the whole process because you can’t hear?

I wanted to share my experience with you all as I know everyone tells you it’s the most special time and it’s all meant to be hearts and flowers but I actually didn’t enjoy it all that much.

I’ll be honest, my engagement was a complete shock to me having just lost my hearing to Sudden Sensorineural Hearing Loss just 6 weeks before. It is, however, a wonderful memory in the middle of a lot of angst and sadness but there are parts of it I missed out on because I am hearing impaired.

I remember my husband down on one knee with my beautiful engagement ring in his hand, saying some lovely words about me but I haven’t a clue what those words are because I couldn’t hear him! That made me a little sad to think I’ll never really experience that moment again and although he could tell me later on what he said, the there and then is when it counts most.

There were other times during our engagement where I didn’t feel like a real bride to be, I felt a little like a fraud and incredibly sad. Three particular memories instantly come to mind;

  • When one of my bridesmaids excitedly rang me the same evening we got engaged, I had to pass the phone to the other half to talk to her because I struggled with hearing anything on the phone. I had no idea what they were saying to her and I felt like I was missing out on a wonderful conversation.
  • When I couldn’t hear my guests at our engagement party. We initially planned a small engagement party for just our families so they could get to know each other but got a bit carried away and invited far more people than planned so it turned into a party for about 50 people in a busy, crowded pub on a Saturday night – not the ideal environment when you’re deaf. I found myself feeling not part of the celebrations, and a bit side-lined. I spent a lot of the evening just popping to the ladies’ room so I could get a bit of space from it all.
  • When we set about planning the music for our ceremony, reception and evening party I just couldn’t get excited. Music, especially live music, had always been something I enjoyed and I knew we both wanted a live band for our wedding but not being able to listen to demos and having to rely on reading lyrics to determine what song I wanted to walk down the aisle to wasn’t quite how I thought I would be planning my wedding. I got really sad when my other half found a band he thought was perfect for us as I couldn’t hear much of the music at all.

I was lucky that I had been planning my wedding during a time where emails are an accepted, if not preferred, method of communication – this made contacting suppliers easier and less stressful. We only met with a handful of suppliers in person – our photographer, florist and of course, venue co-ordinators who were all wonderful and incredibly patient with me.

Dress shopping was a mixed experience for me. I had decided that I would only take my mum with me, partly because I think it is an experience that only a mum and daughter should experience (even more so when you’re an only child) and partly because I didn’t want too many people to be there because I would have felt drained trying to keep up with several conversations happening at once.

Movies and TV shows always over glamorise wedding dress shopping – glasses of champagne, every dress looking beautiful on the bride to be and fitting perfectly and everyone crying. That really isn’t the case. At least it wasn’t for me.

I had a particular designer in mind as they specialised in tea length wedding dress which was what I wanted so that limited the suppliers to a whopping two shops – one in central London and one in Bexley, a three-hour round journey from my home. The first shop, the one in London was a Goth shop with the wedding ‘boutique’ downstairs. We didn’t get a particularly friendly welcome when we arrived and were quickly ushered downstairs to an inexperienced shop girl who flung all manner of dresses at me despite me clearly stating I only wanted to see dresses by one designer.

The dressing room experience was frightening; there I was half naked standing in front of a full-length mirror with unflattering lighting and a shop girl trying to shove me into a too big or too small dress. There wasn’t blood but there was definitely sweat and tears. There were issues with communication, mainly because the shop assistant kept talking to my back or I was trying to lip-read through a mirror which NEVER works. I think I felt intimidated by it all and came out of there definitely feeling deflated.

I also found it difficult attending wedding fairs, seeing venues and generally trying to communicate with vendors, but having my partner there with me meant that I didn’t have to struggle on my own. Weddings are generally seen as a bride’s event but our experience definitely made the wedding ours instead of mine, in fact there were times when the groom was fussier than the bride!

At the time of planning our wedding I was going through the Cochlear Implant process for the first time which meant a lot of hospital appointments, stress and assessments; not knowing what the outcome would be. I spent a lot of the time wondering whether I would be able to hear my husband say his wedding vows to me, and wondering what would happen if I couldn’t.

As many of you know, I was initially refused for a Cochlear Implant in September 2014. This broke my heart, along with my families. Not only was I sad about living without my hearing on a day to day basis, which I was already struggling with, but I was also incredibly worried that on what is supposed to be the most special day of my life, I wouldn’t feel a part of it and would forever remember not being able to hear the song I walked down the aisle to, my husband say his vows, my dad’s father of the bride speech or our first dance song.

Thankfully, the second implant centre accepted me onto the programme and, in fact, it worked out for the best as their waiting list was much shorter than the first hospital so I had the implant and was activated three months before the first hospital even had availability for surgery. This meant I had 7 months before my wedding to get used to the implant and receive speech and language therapy.

Having gone through my hearing loss journey when I did meant that our wedding day was that extra bit special because our family and friends had been there every step of the way, for us both and knew the struggles we had faced together to get to that point. We had a wonderful day, filled with love, laughter and lots of wine (well, we did get married at a vineyard!).

I just wanted to share my experience with you all to say, it’s okay. It’s okay not to be really excited during the lead up, it’s okay to communicate on your terms with vendors in a way that suits you best, it’s okay to hand over responsibility to your bridesmaids/groom/mother etc. It will all be worth it on the day – YOUR day.

Here’s a few snaps of our special day from the wonderful Hayley Rose Photography

 

 

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Mental Health & Hearing Loss

Today is World Mental Health Day and the MIND charity reminds us that “mental health problems can affect anyone, any day of the year”. This year’s World Mental Health Day is focusing on workplace wellbeing and taking care of your mental health at work.

A lot of hearing loss charities this year have also focused campaigns on the workplace and it’s not hard to see why. The average individual spends 5 days, 36 hours a week in the workplace, that adds up to approximately 252 working days (excluding individual annual leave but including 8 days bank holiday) a year. We spend the majority of our lives at work so of course we should ensure that our workplace is a healthy, happy and supportive environment.

Living with mental health can impact on every part of your daily life and affect your relationships with family, friends, colleagues and most importantly, yourself.

Individuals who suffer from hearing loss are more likely to experience some form of mental and emotional issues. Past studies have shown that hearing loss left untreated can have a profound effect on your mental health with individuals more likely to suffer from anger issues, depression and anxiety which can all stem from feelings of isolation and inadequacy.

A recent study by the National Council on Aging[1] studied 2,300 individuals living with some form of hearing loss and found that they were 50% more likely to experience depression.  A further study in the Journal of American Medicine Otolaryngology-Head and Neck Surgery conducted in 2014 also connected hearing loss with an increased risk of depression; the increased risk was found to be more common in women than men.

I’ve blogged before about the feeling of isolation hearing impaired individuals feel; unfortunately, social isolation is a common problem, whether self-inflicted or not and this can be a contributing factor in cognitive decline and also dementia, as reduced hearing leads to less brain stimulation.

It is important to seek medical advice if you think your hearing has declined and quickly – it is believed that the average person doesn’t seek support for hearing loss for an estimated seven years! This isn’t helped by societies view of the hearing impaired and the social stigma attached to the disability – often deafened individuals are thought to be ‘stupid’ or ‘ignorant’.

Mental health problems are ever increasing in our society and it is important that you look after your mental state, just as you would look after your physical health by going to the gym.

Here are some tips from MIND on how to look after your mental health at work;

Talk about your feelings – “Talking about your feelings isn’t a sign of weakness; it’s part of taking charge of your wellbeing and doing what you can to stay healthy.”

Keep active – “Regular exercise can boost your self-esteem and can help you concentrate, sleep, and look and feel better.”

Eat well – “What we eat can affect how we feel both immediately and in the longer term. A diet that is good for your physical health is also good for your mental health.”

Drink sensibly – “We often drink alcohol to change our mood. Some people drink to deal with fear or loneliness, but the effect is only temporary.”

Keep in touch – “Relationships are key to our mental health. Working in a supportive team is hugely important for our mental health at work.”

Ask for help – “one of us are superhuman. We all sometimes get tired or overwhelmed by how we feel or when things don’t go to plan.”

Take a break – “A change of scene or a change of pace is good for your mental health.”

Do something you’re good at – “What do you love doing? What activities can you lose yourself in? What did you love doing in the past? Enjoying yourself can help beat stress. Doing an activity you enjoy probably means you’re good at it, and achieving something boosts your self-esteem.”

Accept who you are – “We’re all different. It’s much healthier to accept that you’re unique than to wish you were more like someone else.”

Care for others – “Caring for others is often an important part of keeping up relationships with people close to you.”

[1] https://www.healthyhearing.com/report/52532-How-hearing-loss-can-impact-mental-health

The Invisible Disability and Me, The Book

My apologies for not updating my site in recent months, I have been busy working on The Invisible Disability And Me, the book and now, finally, it is ready!

I have published The Invisible Disability And Me as a self help guide for those suffering with any form of hearing loss, whether mild, severe or profound as well as those inflicted with Tinnitus or considering a Cochlear Implant. The aim of the book is to empower, educate and help the hard of hearing deal with their everyday lives. If it can help improve just one person’s outlook on life, then I consider it a job well done.

Thank you to everyone who has supported me along the way, it has truly been a labour of love but I am incredibly proud to announce that the Kindle AND Paperback versions are NOW AVAILABLE TO BUY!!!

The Kindle edition is available from Amazon for £1.99 with ALL proceeds being donated to Hearing Link UK in recognition of the fantastic support and advice they provided to me and my family, as well as the work they do to help countless others.

If you would like to purchase the Kindle edition, please click here;

Kindle

The paperback edition is also now available to buy from Amazon and is priced at £4.99, again, ALL proceeds will be donated to Hearing Link.

If you would like to purchase the Paperback edition, please click here;

Paperback

So, what are you waiting for? BUY, BUY, BUY!!

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The Invisible Disability And Me – The Book UPDATE

Happy New Year to all of you – I hope you all had a wonderful festive season and are looking forward to the new opportunities 2017 has to offer.

Sorry for not updating the blog for a while, I’ve been a bit busy with Christmas, illness and the book.

Speaking of the book, I wanted to give you all a little update. The manuscript is now with the publishers and we are awaiting their final comments and potentially a few amendments to the formatting etc.

Once that has been completed, they will give me a choice of a few pricing structures that would be suitable for the book. All profits made from the sale of the book (hopefully a lot!) will be donated to Hearing Link UK.

Following the release of the eBook, I will be purchasing 100 paperback copies to send to Cochlear Implant centres in the UK, hearing loss charities, support groups and those who backed our Kickstarter campaign.

You will also be able to purchase paperback copies but these will be via a print on demand service separate to the eBook. I’m not 100% certain on the protocol for this, it may well be that you have to order them through me and I’ll send them on once received – once I have more information on this I will update you all.

Finally, I just want to extend my deepest gratitude to all of our followers, readers and backers for all of your support, encouragement and help in getting The Invisible Disability And Me eBook thus far.

Lots of love,

Laura x

Breaking The Silence: Live

The Channel 4 documentary Breaking The Silence: Live which aired this evening at 8pm proved to be emotional viewing, especially for me, having gone through the same experience early last year. 

I identified with so much of what the patients talked about, not only about their medical diagnosis, but with their feelings of isolation, loss of character and confidence and deterioration of their relationships with loved ones.  Continue reading “Breaking The Silence: Live”

The Invisible Disability And Me – The Book!

As some of  our avid readers (and social media followers) may be aware, we are in the process of writing our first eBook, aptly named “The Invisible Disability And Me”.

The book covers topics such as tinnitus, hearing loss in the workplace, travel and cochlear implants, offering tips and hints on how to cope with hearing loss on a daily basis. I write about my own personal story, which many of you are already familiar with, and I also share advice that I have learnt along the way. Continue reading “The Invisible Disability And Me – The Book!”

17 Things To Expect When You Get A Cochlear Implant

1) There will be a lot of tests before you are deemed ‘eligible’; There are MRI scans, CAT scans, speech perception tests, hearing tests and various other assessments you will have to go through before they can accurately assess you against the NICE criteria. Continue reading “17 Things To Expect When You Get A Cochlear Implant”

An Experts View

Today’s post is a little different but one we think you will find extremely useful.

We recently asked audiologist Lindsey Banks over at Everyday Hearing some hearing loss related questions we think you would be interested to know about from an expert’s position. Continue reading “An Experts View”

Sunshine Blogger Award

I am delighted that The Invisible Disability and Me has been nominated for another award! This time we have been awarded the Sunshine Blogger Award by Dream Fly Discover. I am truly grateful for the award and to all of you who read my blog. P.s. I happen to love sunflowers too! Continue reading “Sunshine Blogger Award”

Why We Are Loving The Teeny Tiny Ditto

Ditto

Adverb | uk /ˈdɪt.əʊ/ us /ˈdɪt̬.oʊ/

Used to agree with something that has just been said, or to avoid repeating something that has been said.

Ditto

Noun | uk /ˈdɪt.əʊ/ us /ˈdɪt̬.oʊ/ also ditto mark

 A symbol “ that means “the same” and is used in a list to avoid writing again the word written immediately above it.

Or perhaps the Oxford Dictionary needs to update their definitions to include this teeny gadget designed by Simple Matters which vibrates to alert you to your calls, texts, app notifications or alarms. Continue reading “Why We Are Loving The Teeny Tiny Ditto”