Tuesday, July 2, 2019

Closed-Captioning: A Special Prayer for Special People

The rainbow behind the trees. Cheyenne, Wyoming. Photo by Darla Sue Dollman.

At my age, most of us have heard the philosophical question, "If a tree falls in the forest, does anyone hear?" 

At my age, that question takes on a different meaning, because at my age, many people begin to lose their hearing. And if you think that's funny, wait until it happens to you and remember this post.

Styles of hearing aids. Government display/public domain. 

My father is losing his hearing because he spent his entire adult life working as a machinist. Even with the use of ear plugs, after years of working 50 hours a week in crowded rooms with the sounds of drills and vibrating machines, his hearing is almost gone. It breaks my heart, but he is a proud man, proud that he provided so well for his family. And he should be proud. 

My mother is losing her hearing due to age, and possibly a serious car accident when she was younger. She also lived a good life, worked hard, and is now ready to rest and enjoy her retirement.

Both of my parents struggle with hearing loss.  

Saying Goodbye to Sounds 

I am losing my hearing because I fell in a parking lot and as I was clinging desperately to the grocery cart a 30 pound box of wood slammed forward into the handle bar and flipped out of the cart. I landed on my back on the icy pavement and watched in terror as the box of wood fell onto my face.

I thought I was in an accident, but I was actually still in the parking lot where I had been searching for my truck. Photo by Darla Sue Dollman.

When I woke up I was completely blind and couldn't hear anything, not even a ringing in my ears. I remember thinking I was dead. The pain was tremendous. I passed out again. 

The second time I woke up I still couldn't see, but I heard cars and thought I was in a car accident. I tried to crawl, but when I moved pain shot through my body like snakes moving beneath my skin. I felt a woman's hand on me and barely heard her voice as she told me to lie still, that she had called for help. 

My hearing has never been the same. Along with the hearing loss I have headaches, blurred vision, speech problems, confusion, memory loss--so many problems that all started immediately. Some have improved, primarily because I am a fighter and refuse to give up or give in, but many have grown worse with time. The hearing loss continues to plague me as I try to cope with the anger, frustration, and even harassment from people who do not understand my confusion or misunderstandings, and sometimes believe I am rudely ignoring them when the truth is I cannot hear a word they speak. 

Sadly, because I still spend many hours with doctors due to my injuries, most of the rude behavior comes from medical professionals who do not have the patience we expect from them. They need prayers, too. Prayers that some day kindness and compassion will be taught to students in medical school. I often pray for the medical professionals who do not understand, or simply do not try. Some day, they will understand. They will understand when it happens to them, or someone they love. 

Beautiful, beautiful Bella. Photo by Danielle Agnew. 

There are more painful sacrifices that come with hearing loss. For instance, I can barely hear the laughter of my grandchildren, and spend so much time asking them to repeat themselves that it frustrates me! Their patience astounds me. 

The photo above is of Bella, my youngest grandchild who is coincidentally playing with her ear. When I look at this picture, I have the same thought every time--I would love to hear her laugh some day. I want to hear her voice. I want to hear her sing. I would be perfectly content to simply hear her say my name into a cell phone.

Sing! Photo by Darla Sue Dollman.

Since the time I was a child, one of my greatest pleasures in life was listening to the sound of the birds singing in the morning as the sun rose in the sky, or calling to their mates at night. Now there are times when I see them, but cannot hear them sing. It is hard to say goodbye to sounds. 

Promotional poster for Gone with the Wind. (Public Domain.) If the wind blows in the forest, and you can't hear, will you miss the sound? Oh yes, believe me, you will. 

And...I LOVE movies. I have watched movies since I was very young. I love vintage films, documentaries, foreign films--all of them. 

Did I just change the subject? No. How can you watch a movie if you can barely hear? 


Today's special prayer goes out to the men and women who work diligently to provide closed-captions to films for people like me, my father, and my mother, who struggle with our hearing so we can continue to enjoy our lives.

I think of you every night as I search the channels for my favorite movies. Sometimes I notice minor typos when watching films that I've seen so often I've actually memorized the words. Sometimes I laugh at phrases like "Dramatic music playing softly." or "Loud ruckus in the alley." And other times I am amazed by the knowledge of people who know the name of every song playing in the film. 

My cats, Pixie Dust and Elvis Jr. waiting for the movie to start. Photo by Darla Sue Dollman.

It's true--no one promised me a rose garden. God never whispered in my ear that my life would be painless. An angel has never appeared in my dreams to say that I would be blessed with a perfect life. I remind myself of this as I go to bed each night, and I remind myself that some people don't have dogs to cuddle with or cats sitting on their heads when they're trying to see the television, and I tell myself that I am truly blessed. 

Emma loves to snuggle up and watch movies. Her name means "Universal Healer." 
Photo by Darla Sue Dollman.

I still have moments when I can relax, snuggle beneath a warm blanket with my chihuahua and my cats, watch a movie and understand the plot, the dialogue, the drama, thanks to the closed-caption angels in this world. 

My prayer tonight is for you. 

Sometimes help comes from unexpected places. Sometimes peace and moments of contentment comes with help from people you don't know and will never meet. 

Bless you, all of you, who work so hard to help those of us who struggle to hear. And thank you. 

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