Monday, August 2, 2010

Lipreading Fail: A Frightening "deaf moment"

After a long day of SAT classes and a night of getting engrossed in the latest novel I was reading, I finally fell into a deep sleep late that night. I slept soundly, dreaming of puppies and butterflies..

*shake, shake* I rubbed my eyes. Why was someone awaking my slumber at this unearthly hour of *glances at clock* 9 AM?! I rolled over and shut my eyes, only for me to see my mom pounding on my bed again, and then walking out. That was...odd. Besides the fact that this was my one day to sleep in (and for a teenager approaching the end of summer, 9 in the morning is not sleeping in), I usually get a friendlier wake-up call than that. I mean, my sister was set to have her wisdom teeth out this morning, it's not like we were planning to go out and party. I dragged myself out of bed and into the hallway, only to see my mom standing there talking on the phone.

"What was that about?!" I asked in my whining sleepy voice.

My mom began gesturing wildly, a frantic look in her eyes, all the while staying on the phone. She tried talking to me, but my lipreading skills are declining by the day, and I still wasn't fully awake. I stared at her and threw my arms up, trying to signal the fact that I was confused and had no idea watch she was trying to say. I paced back and forth as my mom stood in the doorway of my sister's room, still on the phone.

She signaled for me to put on my processors. I shook my head, unable to recall exactly where I put them as I dozed off the night before. Besides, it was too early! I was ready to jump back in the bed!

"What do you want?!" I asked, starting to get annoyed.

I was finally able to understand., I got it! I have to answer the door!" "Who's at the door?" I asked.

My mom slowly enunciated what I thought looked a lot like "Rebecca is coming."
"Hmm, that's weird." I thought to myself. Rebecca was my sister's friend. But, as far as I knew, my sister was still sound asleep from the surgery less than a couple of hours earlier. I shrugged, and went downstairs to open the door for Rebecca.

I stood at the door, looking out the window for Rebecca. As I waited impatiently, I saw an ambulance, flashing lights and all, pull up in front of our house. "Huh..I wonder what happened?" I thought to myself. They stopped at the stop sign in front of our house. I kept watching to see if they were going in the direction of any of my friends' houses. Instead,  4 paramedics came running out, up to our front door. That's when it hit me that maybe my mom hadn't said anything about Rebecca after all. I opened the door and pointed upstairs, to where my sister and mom were. The first man nodded and ran up, the others followed. Then another 2 paramedics came up, holding a stretcher.

I watched from downstairs as my sister's room quickly filled up. I tried my best to see what was going on. Most of them looked like they were just standing around. "That's good, right? I mean, when they have to do CPR there's normally people running around and screaming." I thought, trying to reassure myself. I sent my dad a text message, hoping he would pause his work to let me know if he knew what was going on. I sat on the couch. Not too long after, the paramedics casually walked downstairs and left, my mom and sister still up in the room.

I soon found out that my sister, with a completely numb mouth, tongue, and throat, had managed to get the gauze stuck in the back of her throat and began to panic. My mom panicked too, since it could block her airway, and called 911. By the time the paramedics got here, my sister apparently had managed to swallow the gauze, so all was well.

That night, I went to check on her. She called out my name. "Yes?" I asked.

"You know, those paramedics were pretty hot." she said with a smile.

Yes they were, sister. Yes they were.


  1. Wow very scary! I'm glad it was all ok in the end.

  2. Classic description of a "deaf moment". Frightening and so unneccessary if people knew sign language from the beginning. Even though some choose the oral route, sign does fill in for times like this. Cheers, hope it doesn't happen again to you...ever.

  3. This is where I think sign language come in handy (SEE, ASL, or Cued.. whatever works for you, and where you are more likely get an interpreter). I had trouble with communicating with my family when I was in the hospital and it was hard to concentrate under medication and body stress, even with my HA's and processor.

  4. Oops , VERY scary!! I'm glad everything is OK!

  5. Thanks Megan and Vivie.

    Dianrez and Anon- I definitely saw these comments coming ;)I learned to speak a good amount before my hearing loss was diagnosed, and did not lose the majority of my residual hearing until a few years ago. Up until then, I could still faintly hear some speech and understand (sans hearing aids) when I combined hearing with lipreading, although the person would typically have to yell.

    Yes, learning SEE or ASL would probably make my life easier, and I'm certainly not against it. I'm considering taking it when I get to senior high school, although I think it would be very difficult teaching my parents (who are older) sign language, which would defeat much of the purpose. I'm not ruling out anything yet!

  6. We're in the process of learning cued speech. This is further evidence that it's a good idea. I'm so glad your sister is okay. That experience would turn my hair snow white for sure.

  7. I'm obsessed with learning ASL, so I know I'm a bit biased ;-) but I think if you could introduce just a few signs to your parents, you would be amazed at the benefits. If you have realistic expectations from the start--knowing that they will never become fluent and you'll never be able to have long conversations with them only in ASL--then you could approach it as something to simply supplement your oral communication.

    So in this case, your mother wouldn't be able to explain the details of what was going on, but maybe she could sign "SISTER WRONG" or "SISTER EMERGENCY" (or even fingerspell a word or two). Then at least you would know what the basic subject is. This is how my husband and I use ASL; neither of us are fluent, but I can give him the general subject at least.

  8. It's really interesting to read the different perspectives on this. Thanks for your comments! My sister and I both know a handful of signs and fingerspelling, which comes in handy.

  9. I would have gone for my processors long before you did. What patience you have on being in the dark over what was happening.

    I too think some sign would be helpful for these situations but I can't convince anyone around me to learn either.

    Don woke me up by shaking me one morning and was yelling at me for not answering the door for fedex. I decided he was crazy and took my processor back off until he calmed down.


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