Tuesday, June 9, 2009

Facing My Fears...

This summer I decided to volunteer at a nearby hospital. They have a teen program that requires a lengthy process of applications, recommendations, an essay, and medical tests. I considered letting them know about my hearing loss, but soon decided not to. My only worry was that I would have to answer phones.

Growing up with hearing aids, I avoided talking on the phone unless absolutely necessary. Whenever I was alerted there was a phone call for me, I would be overcome with a flood of nervousness. For me, talking on the phone usually entailed having it on speakerphone while either my mom or sister would stay close by to clarify anything I misunderstood. Since I misunderstood quite a bit, oftentimes my sister or mom would end up taking over the conversation, and then would go into some long conversation with my friend that was totally unrelated to what they even called to talk to me about. With my implants, I am able to use the phone normally and fairly well, but I usually only talk to close friends and family who:
a) Are fairly patient
b) just call to tell me a story, and spend an hour on the phone without me actually having to give any input
c) Tend to keep the conversation brief.

I figured that since we got to tell our top picks of places to volunteer, I would just avoid any that required phone work. Since I'm under sixteen, most of what I do is office work since I can't be a certified sitter or do any interacting with sick patients. When I got my schedule, I was surprised that I only got one of the the three things I requested. I hurriedly looked over them, and relief doesn't even begin to describe how I felt when I realized none of them listed answering phones in the description!

So, my first day was yesterday. At first we were divided into a bunch of groups and had to find a bunch of places in the (MASSIVE) hospital. It took about an hour and a half, and then we were sent off on our own to find our jobs. I arrived at my job and found some people that worked in the department. "Hi, I'm your student volunteer!" I said.
"Well what are you supposed to do?" the lady replied back.
Heh. Wasn't she supposed to tell me that?

After lots of back and forth between the volunteer office and the place where I was supposed to volunteer, I ended up just sitting there for two hours. The person who was supposed to be my supervisor was apparently too busy to show up, and the person in charge of coordinating the volunteers was convinced that she would, but alas! There wasn't really much I could do, and they let me go to lunch early. I got to sit with another girl who also got off early, and she was really nice. And, she showed me where my next assignment was, which took a good fifteen minutes to get to!

So I got there and my supervisor, a nurse, was actually there! She was really friendly, although she seemed to have a lot on her mind. For the first hour she had me doing a lot of things with filing and patient charts. Then I heard her calling my name from her cubicle. I rushed to her service.

"I'm so glad I have you! I have so many things I need to get done! Now I just need you to call a couple of patients...."

I'd tell you what she said next, but I started zoning out and going into a mini-panic as soon I heard the word "call". I could feel my face getting hot and my heart starting to beat faster. She then wrote out a script of what I needed to say and the numbers I needed to call. I slowly walked back into the room I was in, script in my hand.

I sat down in my chair and took a deep breath, I looked at the desk, completely bare except for the phone sitting in the center. I scooted in, sat up straight, and called the number, ready to complete my daunting task.
"I'm sorry the number you have called..." a voice said. I hung up. "This is a sign I shouldn't be calling!" I told myself.

Then I suddenly had a vague recollection of having to dial a 9 before a number outside the hospital. I tried again.

I began tapping my fingers on the desk.

I silently wished to myself,"please don't pick up, please don't pick up, please don--"
"Hello?" a woman's voice answered.
Things sure weren't going my way!

"Hi, I'm calling from the hospital to say that you need to let your pharmacy know to fax the prescription to 2345678901, attention to Thenurse," I said, reading off of the script.

"okay, and how do-----?"

I gulped. "I'm sorry, could you repeat that?" I asked.

"How do you------? Is it T-h-a-n-o?"

"Oh! No, it's spelled t-h-e-n-u-r-s-e."

"Okay, thank you!"

Phew. I did it! The rest of the phone calls went better. I had another brief moment of panic when I was asked to call and find out a fax number. I was successful, and was just glad it wasn't an email that I had to write down, letter-by-letter :)

My eight hours soon finished up, and I can't say it wasn't an exciting first day! I'm hoping tomorrow is somewhat less stressful. Maybe I should start using the phone a bit more...


  1. this was a really good post, I really enjoyed it, both of my kids are deaf and wear ci's. Thank you for sharing...
    DV moderator (Val)

  2. I'm proud of you for facing your fears!!!

  3. Yay! Good job on working to get over your fears. I don't like talking on the phone much either but the fact that you talked to complete strangers (not knowing what their voices are like) is amazing and brave!

  4. Thanks Val, Elizabeth and Kristi! I don't think I would've been brave enough to do it if it wasn't something I *had* to do!

  5. I have to say, I love talking on the phone (with my friends) but I don't think I coulda been able to talk to strangers...I can't even call the Apple Help Line to get them to help me fix my brother's iTunes account, which by the way, I somehow messed up. Recorded voices are so daunting, I know...
    "THE NURSE" lol :D

  6. I hate recorded voices! Another time they had me make a phone call, and the nurse (I didn't want to use her real name, okay?! hehe) told me to just press whatever buttons to get me to talk to a live person. It took me three tries to realize that I had gotten an actual person, and they would hang up because I wouldn't say anything. *facepalm*


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