People these days take phones for granted. Phones are the gel that holds friendships together, phones enable us to find quick solutions for problems. Phones keep us connected.

I cannot do phone calls and I haven’t been able to for years. I share this information repeatedly yet I still have friends who ring for a chat and I gamely try to hear-after all how many times can you tell people you can’t hear?

ASIDE:One thing you learn if you are hard of hearing is how to communicate and how to listen. It is bizarre then to realise that many hearing people actually cannot hear you when you tell them you have a hearing problem. Hearing people can be deaf too.

I know people have imparted important information to me over the phone from their tone but I have no idea what it is. I have lost huge swathes of peoples lives. For instance, I think there’s a friend of mine living in Mallow, Co. Cork with a Latvian lap dancer but I am not entirely sure. I appear uncaring when I don’t commiserate on the death of a father( I think a friend of mine lost her Dad in recent years but I am afraid to ask as I think she may have “told” me already on the phone so the moment is gone.) I am sure some people I know have married and divorced without me knowing.

Recently one friend, losing her temper, yelled loud enough for me to hear “Now listen CAREFULLY!” as if I just wasn’t paying attention. As you can imagine I have lost more than a few friends because of this not to mention that phone calls are just hugely stressful. I have lost friends who are not comfortable emailing and who can’t visit.

Many of you reading this will probably imagine that you would be able to tell if a friend can or can’t hear you on the phone. You might imagine you wouldn’t be so unthinking. You would. I know. Trust me, if you are ringing a hard of hearing person they will have difficulty hearing you. This is a FACT.

One luminary in the Waterford art world recently was looking for my number through a friend. I asked the friend to give her my email address and explain about my hearing. A few days later I received a call from the luminary. On the phone. I explained about my hearing but she knew already. She had decided that it didn’t apply to her. Not only that but her reason for calling was quite insulting, something I won’t go into here. Suffice to say the “lady” is now on my black list for life.

Outside of friendship not being able to use the phone is a huge handicap. In work it can be a huge problem. My job requires little phone use merely to call technicians when needed but I mostly ask others to do this for me. I cover work along with groups in PART FOUR.

Many people can just pick up the phone to find if a shop is open, to locate spare parts for their car, to get help with their PC, to make a reservation. I can only do this with great difficulty, usually crouched on the floor hands over my eyes(I don’t know why but my brain thinks this helps) and my mouth stretched as if in agony, my features scrunched up in the frown which characterises my face.

Right now there are some car parts I need on EBAY UK. I could not locate them in Ireland as I can’t ring car dismantlers and most of them do not have an online presence. I need to know if they are the right parts but the garage is not replying to email. I cannot phone, it would be a disaster and I would be none the wiser anyway.

I could go drive around to find someone else to call for me but I would have to find someone first and then brief them on all the right questions and then-I know this from experience- watch them ask all the wrong questions and so still be at square one. This can take a whole morning.

Then there is PC support which is only done by phone. Once I tried ringing Eircom for help with my Broadband. After 5 minutes the operator told me that he was finding my hearing disability irritating. I kid you not. I threw my phone against the wall, breaking it. Eircom One- Clare Nil.

Yeh, I know there are supposed to be phones that work for the hard of hearing and my hearing aids are supposed to make it easier but I can’t afford to change phones now and I actually hear worse on my current phone using my aids.

The really annoying thing about deaf phones is that they look ridiculous as they have huge buttons because the designers assume all hard of hearing people are blind too. So to add insult to numerous daily injuries hard of hearing people are not allowed to have cool phones. You think I’m being shallow?I am. Deafies are allowed to be shallow too you know.

One day I will have to look into getting a better phone or one designed for deaf people but that’s a long time in the future.

Right now though I just do not have the cash so, please, don’t call.



  1. Jesus . .. I would file a huge complaint with Eircom regarding that ‘customer service help’ (or lack thereof) you received. Shocking. I cannot believe you there is not more support out there for someone in your situation. Disgraceful.


    • I know, its crap. I did complain, by email, and got no satisfaction. Unfortunately I exploded with frustration and threw my phone at the wall before I got his name. I am in a minority and Eircom have the market sewn up so they don’t give a damn. I guess I could have pursued it further but the effort is not worth it, I don’t have the wherewithal to fight them. The young man on the phone was speaking out loud what many people think when they are dealing with the hard of hearing. Stupid boy. I guess Eircoms training is crap too.


  2. Hi Westy, following all this series with great interest although back in the saddle so all tied up on a horse for hours every day. (Little time to be commenting and stuff.) Anyway, as usual your writing is brilliant, revealing and insightful. As we talked about I know some of this from supporting my Dad who was both deaf and blind for many years. But not from childhood which is another huge factor in your own story. I just love that you are talking about it and making sense of your self through your talent and your creativity. There’s a book in you, that is becoming very clear………X


  3. Hey Foxy!Thanks, thats good too hear or to read at least!You are the only person I have met who knows about headlining conversations. You also speak very clearly and though you have a soft voice I don’t have much trouble hearing you. Clarity rather than volume is the key. I really feel for your Dad since you told me that. Its bad enough been cut off hearing wise but to blind as well…and he sounds like he was good humoured too. What a brave man. I am not sure how good a book would be but I’d probably relish a book long bitch!! 🙂 Talk to ya


  4. Well I am at part 3 and all I can say is wow, I don’t know how I would cope. I would do more than break phones ! (but probably not cos I’m too shy/passive). Your blog is a great insight into the hassle/crap you have to put up with. Am off to no. 4….


    • Hey MK, thanks for wading through. What can I say about coping?You would do it if you had to… and you would break phones too!God I wish I hadn’t done that!Ironically it was the best make for hearing and I can no longer get the model. Bad hearing is something that comes on slowly and I was quite bad for years before I realised what was going on. At that stage I had withdrawn which I guess is a way of coping. Now I push myself to get out because the alternative is to become too detached but I know my limits too. Yes its a major pain but I don’t have another choice. Writing these posts has really helped me frame the difficulties and start to accept that there are just some things that will be beyond me. Thanks again for reading and commenting, really appreciate you taking the time 🙂


  5. This is the best blog on the subject that I’ve read. Thank you from the bottom of my heart for expressing this so well. It’s a very primitive subject – difficult for the hearing champs to understand/empathize with. My own dad starting going deaf when I was a teenager, and my mother and I were horribly impatient – it shames me now. Then I suddenly went deaf in my 20’s – I’ve always thought it was karma. Anyway, please keep writing about this, you are very well spoken.


    • Thanks Sage. Sorry to hear you too had hearing problems from such a young age. Its tough. My Mother also had hearing problems though she either didn’t know or didn’t tell us and we too were terribly impatient with her too. It happens. Don’t be ashamed and don’t think its karma. More genetics I would say, as with me. It is hard too for hearing people to understand and be patient. There is little education on it. One thing I didnt touch on and you have made me think of it, is how it effects relationships. My Mothers eyes would glaze over after I was speaking to her for a while, when I was a teenager. Often she would seem uninterested. It damaged our relationship irreparably. The only thing we can do is to keep on explaining to the hearing what our problem is. Thanks for reading, and commenting and best of luck.


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