Author Topic: Recently acquired deafness & relationship with spouse  (Read 1645 times)

Melisande

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Recently acquired deafness & relationship with spouse
« on: July 30, 2018, 07:49:57 AM »
I had perfect hearing until about 2 1/2 years ago when I suddenly began to show symptoms of Autoimmune Inner Ear Disease (no one in my family has had this; I have a healthy lifestyle; the origin of this disease is still a mystery.) Over the course of 10 weeks, I lost most of the hearing in my left ear and some high and mid-range frequencies in my right ear. I finally found appropriate treatment from a specialist and with long-term use of an immunosuppressant medication stopped the progress of the disease and regained normal abilility to hear mid-range frequencies in my right ear.

I am currently functionally deaf in my left ear and very mildly impaired in my right. What this means in practice is that I have no problem at all understanding someone who is speaking to me in an optimal auditory environment but do have significant problems in non-optimal environments (whenever there is background noise, multiple people speaking at once, someone speaking to me from another room).

I wear hearing aids in both ears ($5000, not covered by insurance), but they don’t help very much. My left ear is so bad that it is officially “unaidable,” although there seems to be some marginal benefit with the hearing aids. My right ear is so good that HAs don’t really add that much. Together both HAs give me about a 5-10% boost in listening comprehension in ideal environments. They are also equipped with technology that supposedly helps in challenging environments, that channels the sound in such a way that I get more of whomever is speaking directly to me and less of the background noise.

I feel like I have fully grieved my loss and moved on with life. However, I feel like my husband has still not emotionally come to terms with it ... and I am trying not to feel hurt and resentful. I am trying to find the best way of handling the situation, although I think we may have made some good progress recently.

A couple of days ago, we went on an all-day pelagic birding expedition (cruise for bird nerds). I opted to leave my hearing aids at home because there was a high likelihood of rain and/or getting doused with sea spray (water immersion is a great way to destroy your hearing aids). I communicated this to my husband ahead of time and told him that we were going to have to try extra hard to communicate with the lack of aids plus all the noise from the boat, wind, waves, other people etc. I think we did really well on the trip. We were both patient and I felt like I understood almost everything. However, after we were back on shore, my husband got really pretty upset and snarky with me because I hadn’t brought the HAs and left them in the car. (I left them at home.) So, we’d have to have dinner without the aids.

Since he didn’t seem to be getting out of sulk/snark mode, I decided that we needed to have a little talk.

My points:

*He forgot an entire knapsack worth of stuff for the trip and we just laughed it off, whereas my leaving my hearing aids at home was a conscious, wise decision which we discussed ahead of time.

*Whether or not I wear my hearings aids doesn’t really make that much difference in terms of comprehension. He seems to think that it’s night and day, but it’s not. Again and again, when I can’t hear what he is saying, he will ask me if I have my hearing aids in. I almost always say the same thing: “Yes, I almost always wearing the hearing aids when we are together, but they don’t help that much — 10% more max. It’s not like they make my hearing that much better.”

*I dislike the fact that he has been speaking to me as if I have no problems at all (not getting my attention first, not looking at me, talking at me from some other room, not positioning himself on my good side, etc.), then if I don’t understand, just YELLING the same thing again. I told him that I don’t like to be YELLED at frequently, that it doesn’t make it fun to be around him (it feels abusive, although I didn’t use that term).

I also asked him if he could tell me what kind of hearing loss I had (as in, i’ve struggled with this for 2 1/2 years, do you remember anything we talked about) and he could not. He started to guess, but then gave up and asked me.

He was upset, but the next day, I noticed that he really tried to be different. He would get my attention before speaking by saying my name or by tapping me on the shoulder. He would come into the room where I was when he wanted to ask me a question. He seemed a little self-conscious and awkward doing it, but he was doing it.

Then, this morning he seems to have forgotten again. I was in the kitchen cooking (exhaust fan, boiling water, my bad ear facing him in the dining room) when he started going on about something. He did come into the kitchen about 1/2 way through his observation (of which I understood not a single word). I said: “I’m sorry, I didn’t get that. Could you say that again?” He repeated the whole thing looking at md and I understood every single word. Then, he left for work seeming slightly upset.

I am thinking and hoping that he is just upset at himself for falling down on the job and am trying not to take it personally.

He really is a very special person and wonderful husband. We will be celebrating our 30th anniversary in a month or so and have been through so much together. I know this situation is frustrating for both of us and, like I said, am trying to find the best way through it.

I am wondering to what extent he is in denial about the situation. I am wondering if there is some magical thinking going on of the variety — “if I just pretend everything is normal, everything will be normal.” Also, I now know that he is worried about my potentially getting worse since he asked me about this for the first time when we had our little talk a couple of days ago. (Answer: the disease is still in remission. My specialist ENT thinks there is a good possibilty that it will stay in remission for the rest of my life, although there is no guarantee. However, the more damage there is from the disease, the more susceptible one is to accelerated age-related hearing loss. Over the last 2 years, there has been a small down-tick in my bad ear, but the good one is holding steady). I also know that at least up until recently he has repeatedly asked me about possible improvements in my hearing when I have told him again and again that after the first six months there have been zero documented cases of hearing improving in this condition. I mean, we are talking about the inner ear. In fact, it is semi-miraculous that there was any improvement at all. Autoimmune Inner Ear Disease is the only disease of the inner ear that shows any improvement at all (and, like I just said, that is limited).

Ideas?
« Last Edit: July 30, 2018, 07:53:25 AM by Melisande »

ender

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Re: Recently acquired deafness & relationship with spouse
« Reply #1 on: July 30, 2018, 07:56:09 AM »
It's hard to unlearn 27.5+ years of habits.

My perspective, having a wife who talks very softly (and then "yells" when I cannot hear her) is that she really doesn't know how loud she needs to talk for me to hear her. In nearly all cases I need about 10-20% more volume, not 50% more. It's possible your spouse doesn't get this either.

In your situation I'd just encourage positive behavior. When he says things clearly, make comments like "hey, I really appreciate it when you speak clearly to me, it makes me feel loved/appreciated/whatever."

But most importantly, talk about this conflict with your spouse in a healthy way. I don't really see much in your post describing how you and your spouse have talked about this issue in anything other than overt conflict, which is never a healthy place to start habit changing. Nor do I see much in there that really suggests your spouse would be unwilling to talk about this with you. Make sure you do it in a way that is not reactive and I think that'd be a good place to start.

Melisande

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Re: Recently acquired deafness & relationship with spouse
« Reply #2 on: July 30, 2018, 08:52:46 AM »
It's hard to unlearn 27.5+ years of habits.

My perspective, having a wife who talks very softly (and then "yells" when I cannot hear her) is that she really doesn't know how loud she needs to talk for me to hear her. In nearly all cases I need about 10-20% more volume, not 50% more. It's possible your spouse doesn't get this either.

In your situation I'd just encourage positive behavior. When he says things clearly, make comments like "hey, I really appreciate it when you speak clearly to me, it makes me feel loved/appreciated/whatever."

But most importantly, talk about this conflict with your spouse in a healthy way. I don't really see much in your post describing how you and your spouse have talked about this issue in anything other than overt conflict, which is never a healthy place to start habit changing. Nor do I see much in there that really suggests your spouse would be unwilling to talk about this with you. Make sure you do it in a way that is not reactive and I think that'd be a good place to start.

Thanks. What you say makes perfect sense. However, I know I have talked to him about it in a non-reactive way before and nothing seems to have happened. When I got my hearing aids, the hearing therapist had a discussion with me about how to communicate my hearing needs with others and when I got home I went through everything with him (essentially what I mentioned above). I didn’t notice any change whatsoever in his behavior at that time. Or any acknowledgement that we are going to have to work on this. The only thing he asked at the time was whether or not the hearing aids would “show” (I interpreted that as: “Will everyone know I have a disabled spouse?” It hurt my feelings a little bit.)

 I know I’ve mentioned the communications issue non-reactively  several times since without seeing any difference. Instead what I have done is try to be accommodating. Whenever he says something I don’t understand, even if he initiated the conversation, I stop what I am doing walk into the room where he is and say something polite like, you’re saying something about xyz, but I’m not sure exactly what, instead of just yelling “What?!?” back at him.

On the other hand, I do know I have a problem with positive reinforcement. I grew up in a very emotionally abusive household and never had that modelled for me when I was growing up, so either I don’t positively reinforce a specific behavior or I do try but it comes out wrong - more patronizing than warm and loving. What I did instead yesterday when he was being good was: 1) be happy. 2) say that I was happy 3j did a bunch of extra work around the house to (hopefully) show appreciation (stuff I know he appreciates, but I usually hate doing, like washing the floors).
« Last Edit: July 30, 2018, 08:55:34 AM by Melisande »

Sibley

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Re: Recently acquired deafness & relationship with spouse
« Reply #3 on: July 30, 2018, 09:14:30 AM »
To me, it sounds like your husband is having difficulty with the gap between the intellectual knowledge of your hearing loss & it's impact on daily life and the reality of daily life.

Intellectually, he knows about your hearing loss, he knows that the hearing aids don't help much, he knows what he needs to do to make sure you can understand him.

In the flow of daily life, his emotions get ahead of his brain and he feels like you're ignoring him on purpose. That makes him short & snippy with you. Then, his brain catches up, so then he feels guilty for his feelings, which makes him crabby. It's vicious cycle, and it just starts all over with every conversation.

He may find it helpful to talk to a neutral third party. It's a crappy situation, and he's probably feeling a lot of very complicated things that aren't necessarily logical. Having someone who with whom he can just dump it all out and start to organize might really help with some things.

But realistically, he's needing to change behaviors that have worked for a very long time, and that's hard to do.

spartana

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Re: Recently acquired deafness & relationship with spouse
« Reply #4 on: July 30, 2018, 09:18:37 AM »
I lost my hearing in both ears when I was around 30 in a job related accident while in the military. I have been almost completely deaf since than and wear hearing aids (and soon will get cochlear implants) and, while they do help quite a bit, I am still very hard of hearing with them.

My personal experience dealing with relationships is that people function on auto pilot when speaking to you and "forget" you are HOH. Even when you tell them a million times, day after day after day, ask them to face you (I read lips mostly now), ask them to get your attention before speaking, etc it doesn't matter as they still are on auto pilot. Forever (well a couple of decades in my case). The yelling is from frustration - generally at themselves but also just at the situation - and they othen feel bad afterwards. The only thing you can do is try to be understanding of their unintentional  rude behavior and hope that they will eventually change their pattern s to better communicate with you. Unfortunately I still have family and close friends who can't seem to change from their auto pilot mode they use with everyone else and so there is still the frustration directed at themselves and the situation even if they understand its not my fault. So try to be patient and kind with your DH as he isn't likely doing it on purpose. Good luck.
« Last Edit: July 30, 2018, 09:20:47 AM by spartana »

Frankies Girl

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Re: Recently acquired deafness & relationship with spouse
« Reply #5 on: July 30, 2018, 09:35:34 AM »
Something else to consider is that he's probably very, very scared of this stuff happening. Health issues are the one thing you really don't have total control over and if you're in the latter half of middle age, being confronted with a serious health issue - even if you usually are a very rational person - is going to trigger a deep feeling of anxiety and fear about the future.

He sounds angry and upset about having to stop and adjust to this new normal, but as I've been told time and again in counseling: anger is a mask/cover for fear. He's scared. He's likely upset about having to adjust to this situation, he's frustrated and most of all has no where to vent this anger/fear/frustration. It totally, sucks that he's taking his fear/upset out on you. It is unfair, and he should be trying harder to be supportive of you and the situation as a whole. But humans are irrational creatures when confronted with fear.

I absolutely would keep trying with the positive reinforcement, but in a calm, safe moment you might consider having a serious talk with him about how health changes are bound to happen as you both age, and you'll both need to be caring and open to each other about accommodating them, and work on being supportive of each other. I'd point out that his ignoring or minimizing the issue is not going to help and can cause issues in your relationship (as it already has caused some ripples) because ignoring issues tends to make things worse and cause bigger issues down the road. Ask him to consider that you are not having hearing loss "at" him - and sympathize with his frustration and fears, but that you need him to come from a place of love and support more than fear and frustration. It would benefit you both in the long run.

And much sympathy for what you've been going through. It sounds like you're doing a great job working through this crummy curveball life threw at you, and I do hope your husband is able to come through for you ASAP and start being a more empathetic, supportive spouse.


(and what is it about some folks having this @#! magical thinking crap where if they pretend that the problem isn't there, then it doesn't exist any more? sooooo frustrating to deal with...)

Melisande

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Re: Recently acquired deafness & relationship with spouse
« Reply #6 on: July 30, 2018, 09:55:28 AM »
Thanks. I’m still “processing” the last few responses, but I should add that he too has started to experience some unusual hearing loss which I think is complicating the issue and making him even more fearful.

He has been experiencing high frequency hearing loss in his left ear — the same ear that my AIED started in. This hearing loss is mild compared with mine (only high frequency in one ear, the other ear normal) but his is accompanied by a sense of fullness and stuffiness, even pain. (I do not have these symptoms — only the severe/mild hearing loss and tinnitus which, thankfully, although constantly present doesn not bother me at all for some reason.) His hearing loss started coming on about 9 months after mine and originally he thought he had caught it/was catching it from me. This is completely irrational. You don’t catch autoimmune diseases or hearing loss from other people.  He has seen a specialist ENT (same one I see) for this twice and has been given medication which helps. And, yes, he has been given a different diagnosis than me (cochlear hydrops) and was given different medication.

Anyway, I think that it is hard for him to communicate and cope with my hearing loss because he then has to think about his own unsettling hearing situation.

And, yes, I think he is really, really scared about it. He is great in many ways, but he is not a great communicator. In fact, one line that he trots out on occasion that makes me laugh: “Communication?!?! That’s your job.”

I'm a red panda

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Re: Recently acquired deafness & relationship with spouse
« Reply #7 on: July 30, 2018, 10:00:23 AM »
He likely won't respond well to this, and I can't say I have experience in the area of deafness, but I'd make a suggestion to consider working with a marriage therapist. They are trained facilitators who can help make sure you have a discussion in a rationale manner and get on the same page about things.

I've been dealing with "complicated grief" for over 2 years.  It was an event that has fundamentally changed me as a person. My PCP has recommended marriage therapy.  I told my husband and his initial response was "is our marriage in a bad place and I didn't know about it?"

No, it isn't. We have a great marriage. But it turns out we weren't necessarily on the same page. We both were holding assumptions about each other that maybe weren't true. We both had some fears the other wasn't aware of. We weren't doing a great job of talking to each other about our needs, separate and together; despite the fact that we regularly talked about how I felt about the death of our (unborn) son. We thought we were communicating, but not in a way that was getting out what we needed.  I think that we likely could end up very resentful of each other if we hadn't been able to get this out and on the same page.

Noodle

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Re: Recently acquired deafness & relationship with spouse
« Reply #8 on: July 30, 2018, 10:51:23 AM »
Thanks. I’m still “processing” the last few responses, but I should add that he too has started to experience some unusual hearing loss which I think is complicating the issue and making him even more fearful.

He has been experiencing high frequency hearing loss in his left ear — the same ear that my AIED started in. This hearing loss is mild compared with mine (only high frequency in one ear, the other ear normal) but his is accompanied by a sense of fullness and stuffiness, even pain. (I do not have these symptoms — only the severe/mild hearing loss and tinnitus which, thankfully, although constantly present doesn not bother me at all for some reason.) His hearing loss started coming on about 9 months after mine and originally he thought he had caught it/was catching it from me. This is completely irrational. You don’t catch autoimmune diseases or hearing loss from other people.  He has seen a specialist ENT (same one I see) for this twice and has been given medication which helps. And, yes, he has been given a different diagnosis than me (cochlear hydrops) and was given different medication.

Anyway, I think that it is hard for him to communicate and cope with my hearing loss because he then has to think about his own unsettling hearing situation.

And, yes, I think he is really, really scared about it. He is great in many ways, but he is not a great communicator. In fact, one line that he trots out on occasion that makes me laugh: “Communication?!?! That’s your job.”

Hey, fellow HOH!

I suspect what you are telling us about his hearing loss has a lot to do with how he is acting (and it changes a bit what advice I would have given).  He may be reacting externally to things happening with you, but the emotions driving him are probably about what's happening to him and how he feels about it. You may have grieved your hearing loss, but it sounds like he's still mourning and fearful about his, especially if it doesn't have as clear-cut an arc as yours. There might also be feelings in there somewhere about how, since his loss isn't as severe as yours, it's not OK for him to be upset about it if you've come to a better place with your situation. This stuff would be hard for a good communicator to articulate, and you say that is not his gift.

I'm going to throw out a few suggestions--take what you will...I think in your shoes, I would try reacting from the emotional place of "it's about him not me," whether that means letting things go or nicely calling him on it. Also, are you modeling good speaking behavior yourself, since he has hearing loss too? Do you joke around about hearing loss, or is it a very serious subject at your house? There are a lot of people in my family with hearing loss, and also a lot of good-natured humor about who heard what which takes the edge off a bit when you have to ask someone to change seats or repeat what they just said.

On another note, did your audiologist suggest a crossover aid for you? They are used for people with single-sided deafness and transfer the sound from the non-hearing ear to the hearing ear. I'm just asking because it sounds like you aren't getting much out of your worse ear, and they tend to work best on people who have just lost binaural hearing recently. They are also less expensive than double aids. Full confession--I tried one and decided against it, because I've been single-sided for a long time, and using a crossover meant that I couldn't have iPhone connectivity, and I couldn't use the crossover with the music setting on my main aid (which I use for choir performance, which was the main time I really wanted sound from both sides. Sigh.) But maybe you would like it!

Melisande

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Re: Recently acquired deafness & relationship with spouse
« Reply #9 on: July 30, 2018, 11:27:57 AM »
Thanks, noodle.

I do try to model good speaking behavior, but I am becoming even more aware of this. Another thing that doesn't help is that we both also have speech problems -- not bad enough to go for adult speech therapy (I actually tried, but got shooed away), but bad enough that the comprehensibility of our speech is below average, I'd say. The very first comment that my mother made when she heard about my hearing problems is "that's really too bad, because Mr. Melisande does not speak clearly." I'm sure his mother could say the same about me.

I think gentle humor really is the best solution. He is (usually -- see below) much better at this than I am, but I think it really is the best way to handle the situation -- a mature defense, as it were. And I know I'm very serious (too serious) in general.

I think letting it slide is a good idea. I just don't want us to slowly "get used to" yelling at each other and this was what was happening. It wasn't just that he was surly with me that one time. There has been a pattern of irritation and surliness between us recently that I really don't like and I just wanted to change that dynamic before it got ingrained. The irritation and impatience I see on his side is not always about my deafness. It has also been triggered by other things beyond my control.

A week or so ago, we were on a flight that got diverted to an unplanned destination and we had to spend a total of about 5 hours standing on various lines (for hotel vouchers, for transportation, to check in to the hotel). Unlike almost every one else on the line, who either waited patiently or even joked around, he fumed almost the whole time -- sighing, muttering, complaining. I wound up trying to calm him down and get him to try to see things from other people's point of view (the airline can't magically make the weather better at our destination; the hotel just can't magically make more staff appear in the middle of the night; the airline representatives are not relaying information because no one has told them anything and they can't magically change that). Then two nights ago, before we had the fight about hearing issues, he had another little hissy fit when we had to wait (a whole 5 minutes!) to check in to our hotel. He even got mad at me for not being mad. "How can you be happy in a situation like this!!!"  This was about 10 minutes before he got upset about my not having the hearing aids with me.

He never, ever used to be like this. I used to be the impatient one and he was the one who had to talk sense into me. I really don't know what is up. Actually, I am wondering if it has to do with his caffeine usage. He never used to have coffee at all and used to kid me about mainlining my caffeine. Now he is the one who is constantly having coffee and I don't have any.  Could this be it? I mean ... above and beyond the deafness issues discussed.

« Last Edit: July 30, 2018, 11:33:22 AM by Melisande »

robartsd

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Re: Recently acquired deafness & relationship with spouse
« Reply #10 on: July 30, 2018, 12:10:31 PM »
*I dislike the fact that he has been speaking to me as if I have no problems at all (not getting my attention first, not looking at me, talking at me from some other room, not positioning himself on my good side, etc.), then if I don’t understand, just YELLING the same thing again. I told him that I don’t like to be YELLED at frequently, that it doesn’t make it fun to be around him (it feels abusive, although I didn’t use that term).
Kudos to you for identifying the problem behavior without putting a label on it that would make him defensive about his intent (I'm pretty sure that while it feels abusive, you don't think he intends to be abusive).

The only thing he asked at the time was whether or not the hearing aids would “show” (I interpreted that as: “Will everyone know I have a disabled spouse?” It hurt my feelings a little bit.)
It is possible he was more concerned about how wearing hearing aids might affect your self-image than how it might reflect on him.

Changing behavior is hard. It's not just about being willing to make a change, it's also about figuring out a way to trigger the thought about making the change each time your brain's auto-pilot starts doing the behavior you want to change. Someone else modeling the behavior and providing positive reinforcement help. Corrective reminders can also help, but have to be done very carefully in order to avoid a conflict that may be damaging to progress.

Mezzie

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Re: Recently acquired deafness & relationship with spouse
« Reply #11 on: July 30, 2018, 05:17:40 PM »
I developed a physical disability, and there were some marriage growing pains for a while. Since yours involves the means to communicate -- the heart of a relationship -- this is probably much harder to adjust to.

My teacher suggestion: I had a student deaf in one ear and HH in the other. We agreed on a couple hand signals that could subtly cue me in on when he missed something or needed me to reposition myself. Maybe a hand signal (tapping  your good ear to remind him to position himself on that side, for example) can serve as a gentle reminder when he begins to talk to you and it's hard to understand.

My student suggestion: My sister is an ASL teacher, so I have an easy in to the Deaf/HH community. At one point when I was diagnosed with an audio processing disorder, I thought it might get worse and became very motivated to learn. You might try taking an ASL class at a community college or attending Deaf and/or ASL events. These can be very fun (I love them!) and can teach you great ways to nonverbally get each other's attention and confirm it is gotten. Eye contact is HUGE in ASL, and that could solve half your problems right there. You don't have to become fluent, but knowing some basic signs could be very helpful in places with a lot of background noise.

Otherwise, I would recommend the book Difficult Conversations for making sure you've been very clear about your needs in a respectful way.

Best of luck. This is a huge change for both of you!

Melisande

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Re: Recently acquired deafness & relationship with spouse
« Reply #12 on: July 31, 2018, 05:00:22 AM »
Thanks robartsd. I’m pretty sure he wants to change, but the changing itself is difficult.

Mezzie— I’m actually really interested in learning ASL and have already started. I am a retired foreign language professor, so language learning is right up my alley. I also have friends who want to learn with me. But Mr. Melisande said that he didn’t have the time/inclination to learn it. And i wouldn’t need it to communicate with him since i’m not mute. He would have to use it to communicate with me, which, again, is apparently not happening.

That’s OK though. Hopefully it will never get to that point.

Anyway, last night, right after he got home (an hour later than usual) Mr. Melisande told me he was concerned that he has some kind of cognitive impairment. He described his day: In the morning, he blew right through what he called a “stop light” but I soon realized was really a stop sign when he described the location — in our neighborhood, a few blocks from our house. He said he was completely unaware of the “stop light” (even though he drives that way every single day). There was a cop there and he got a ticket. He was already late to work and that made him later. He was upset because he had an important presentation for his boss that afternoon, so he got to work on that. However, when he went to see his boss, he found out he had the day wrong. Oops. Unfortunately, he did have another meeting at that time which he missed because he got the days wrong, He also made one other embarrassing, stupid mistake.

This morning, I realized that this could explain what happened Sat. night when he got so upset at me about the hearing aids and the hotel for really nothing at all. As I mentioned in the OP, he had forgotten an entire knapsack worth of stuff and had only just realized it. So, it really was something else and that something else was he fear of possible dementia.

Sibley

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Re: Recently acquired deafness & relationship with spouse
« Reply #13 on: July 31, 2018, 09:50:18 AM »
My dad has dementia, my grandmother had it, I've known multiple others with it. I'm familiar with the early symptoms. I'm also familiar with what stress can do you to. They can be very similar. There are other things can cause these types of symptoms as well.

Suggest he visit the doctor for a physical, and specifically talk to the doctor about his cognitive concerns. My guess is it's stress. He's got a lot of things happening in his life, he's probably not processing his emotions all that well, and the body will tell you it's out of balance. A physical will help ease his mind, and the doctor should tell him that he needs to destress somehow.

Kris

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Re: Recently acquired deafness & relationship with spouse
« Reply #14 on: July 31, 2018, 10:54:49 AM »
Oh, gosh, I'm sorry to hear that. Actually, my first thought was to post that a significant change in someone's temperament can often be associated with a cognitive issue. I hope your husband gets himself checked out. I know that if I suspected something like that in myself, I would be freaking the hell out.

Melisande

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Re: Recently acquired deafness & relationship with spouse
« Reply #15 on: July 31, 2018, 12:36:21 PM »
Thanks. Yes, I’m going to suggest he get himself to a doctor ASAP. I’m hoping it’s stress or some sleep disorder. He is overweight, snores and might have sleep apnea.

That said, two of his grandparents died of Alzheimer’s and his Dad had it, but died of something else before it got bad.

Also, he is no more stressed than he usually is and probably less so.  He is a professor. July is the off season. True he has important meetings. But during the school year, he has more and teaches too.
« Last Edit: July 31, 2018, 12:38:35 PM by Melisande »

gaja

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Re: Recently acquired deafness & relationship with spouse
« Reply #16 on: July 31, 2018, 01:16:54 PM »
I will try to give some input from the other side of the table. I've been living with a hard of hearing/deaf child for a decade. We automatically look at her, we use sign language, speak clearly, or use signed speach, depending on her mood. We always try to limit background noise by automatically turn of the TV, radio, music, fans, etc.

Even with all this, even with years of training, classes, advice from professionals, and reading up on things to do with hearing, even after automating most things and adapting the house and our lives to remove unnecessary barriers, some days I'm exhausted. Just a simple message can take 10 tries to get through, and she will only see the last 1-2. By that time I will be so loud and clear that she is sure I'm yelling at her, for no reason at all. That goes down well with a teenager. If she is in a different room, nothing gets through, and by the time she gets the information we might be running out of time. We had a couple of episodes this summer where we all got upset because she was in bed reading while the rest of us were hurrying to get out of the house. For her, it was a big shock when we suddenly started yelling for her to hurry up, for us it was really stressful having to wait for her to get dressed.

In my experience, deaf and HOH people do not know how much they don't perceive from everyday life and conversation. The rest of us have to do our best to help out, but sometimes we could also need a little bit of slack. Sign language is a really big help, especially since you can't say anything without light and eye contact.

Some other tricks that might make everyday life easier:
-have you looked at how your house is organized? Can you add more lights, move the table or chairs to where the line of sight makes it easier to casually lip read? can you exchange machines with more silent options? Can you give him a remote light switch so he can click the lights of and on instead of yelling to get your attention?
-get water proof hearing aids. A bit of rain or sea water won't hurt normal aids, but water proof ones might let you relax more.
-Decorate your aids, and put up your hair so they get more visible. This makes a positive thing out of it, and is a small reminder. Some ideas here:
https://www.everydayhearing.com/hearing-aids/articles/hearing-aid-decorations/

fuzzy math

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Re: Recently acquired deafness & relationship with spouse
« Reply #17 on: July 31, 2018, 09:10:19 PM »
It definitely sounds like it's more about him and his fears. Perhaps it has to do with aging or the loss of ability to communicate plus whatever future health issues you both could develop. How old are you both?
People get more rigid (unable to change) as they age. Some of what you describe sounds a lot like that.

I appreciate the link to all the hearing aid bling. My daughter is 1 more surgery attempt away from finding out if she will need a hearing aid. We haven't had much issue communicating with her as her hearing is good on the other side so I can't comment much. I do make sure to ask if she heard me if she doesn't respond. Maybe telling your husband what your preferred way for him to address you is when you don't hear him at all or if you can't understand what he's saying.

Noodle

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Re: Recently acquired deafness & relationship with spouse
« Reply #18 on: August 01, 2018, 09:01:38 AM »
Another suggestion to those communicating with people on the deaf/HOH spectrum...have you considered texting? It's not great for conversations, obviously, but for short messages (like, we're getting ready to leave) it can be great. I got an Apple watch--originally to help manage my hearing aid, actually--and I get a vibration when a text comes in. I can either send a quick acknowledgement from the watch (ie, Got it!) or grab my phone for a longer reply. I have an older iWatch so it does need to be near the phone or on the same wi-fi network to work, but the newer ones can operate independently if you are willing to pay for the data.

TheWifeHalf

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Re: Recently acquired deafness & relationship with spouse
« Reply #19 on: August 01, 2018, 01:36:36 PM »
Then, he left for work seeming slightly upset.

I am thinking and hoping that he is just upset at himself for falling down on the job and am trying not to take it personally.

He really is a very special person and wonderful husband. We will be celebrating our 30th anniversary in a month or so and have been through so much together. I know this situation is frustrating for both of us and, like I said, am trying to find the best way through it.



The 'seemingly upset' part makes me think of TheHusbandHalf and I.
Whenever THH and I are talking and it's about something he's explaining to me, he gets 'this look' when I don't understand. After a few years, I asked him what he meant by 'that look,' it looked like he was disgusted I didn't get it.  He told me, no, he wasn't even aware he was making 'the look.'

He still makes 'the look' but I don't take it personally.  I admit I have an eye for detail, and maybe a normal person wouldn't even notice 'the look.' I changed the way I reacted to the look, and it's so much better now.

10 years after my brain injury, I think he  is still coping with my forgetfulness. We both are. I've taught him a few things that help, and he remembers most of the time. He tries, but he's ok with me reminding him.  If you're both ok with reminders from the other, things will go smoother.

Congratulations on the 30 years!

Poundwise

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Re: Recently acquired deafness & relationship with spouse
« Reply #20 on: August 04, 2018, 06:08:16 AM »
Does your husband have any attention problems?  While I have never been examined for or diagnosed as ADD, attention is definitely one of my weaknesses, and it has not improved with age.  This makes me especially impatient when I have to repeat myself, since usually my mind has already moved on from a subject and it is an almost painful effort to drag myself back to where I was.

For an example, I used to lose my top regularly at my kids when trying to call them from their upstairs room. Typically they are listening to music, etc. up there and claim to have no idea I was shouting up to them. They also have a tendency to ignore my voice even if I'm in the room, so they are even more likely to ignore me from far away. So I would call nicely the first time, sternly the second time, and scream angrily the third time.  So by the time they were first aware I was calling them, my mood would be enraged, and their mood would be sweetly puzzled. I knew this was unfair, but it just took so much time and energy.

What helped cut down the anger was installing a wireless doorbell in their room.  It really helped!

Is it possible that you could try wearing a pager? Or putting your phone on vibrate so your husband can buzz you if he is in the next room and wants your attention?

P.S. I just read that he is having trouble sleeping. That is probably a big factor. When I have not had enough sleep, my ability to pay attention goes way down and I am impatient to boot. Also insomnia and Alzheimer's are closely connected so he needs to fix that... if he can.
« Last Edit: August 04, 2018, 06:15:24 AM by Poundwise »

Fireball

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Re: Recently acquired deafness & relationship with spouse
« Reply #21 on: August 04, 2018, 09:06:39 AM »
Tough situation. My only piece of advice is to do the best you can to not take his actions personally.  My mom took care of my grandma for the last 5 years of her life. 24 hour care from when Grandma was 90-95yrs old. She had a dementia, Parkinson's and only had ~25% of her hearing left. Short term memory was almost non-existent. So, not only did Mom have to make sure Grandma heard what was said, she also had to do that for the same topic 10 times before it stuck.

It was extremely, extremely frustrating. Mom knew all of Grandma's problems inside and out, yet she was still human and would often snap at my grandma out of frustration. When Grandma passed away, part of me felt like Mom would be somewhat relieved. She wasn't. She was completely crushed. So, even though there was huge amounts of work and frustration every single day, deep inside Mom was still happy to do it. I suspect your husband is the same way.

Outside of that, work on giving him praise even when it's something tiny.  "I know this is difficult, and your trying so hard. Thank you for that." Even if you think he could or should do better.  Sometimes the best way for people to change is to give them something different to react to.
« Last Edit: August 04, 2018, 09:17:06 AM by Fireball »

ixtap

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Re: Recently acquired deafness & relationship with spouse
« Reply #22 on: August 09, 2018, 06:42:39 PM »
I am looking at this from the other side. As mentioned previously, it is hard to change habits. Moreover, while relationships evolve as we grow, it can be tough going to force a change. I am suddenly the strong one in the relationship and it feels like a huge shift for me to do something as simple as carrying the water bottle on our walks.

Be sure to talk about these changes when you aren't both frustrated. Be sure to praise him when he does it right. Have lots of patience with each other and remember to do all those romantic things like listing each other's good points.