I naturally shy away from team sports because I do not hear. Hearing loss and sports don’t always mix. However, a couple of articles posted on Hearing Like Me caught my attention. I think you’ll find them of interest and inspiration, as I did.
Imagine being out in left field in a softball game and someone shouts a critical piece of information, essential in the game or play, and you do not hear it. I’ve done it. Many times. Team members get pretty upset. This is why hearing loss and sports don’t always mix.
Well, being hard of hearing doesn’t stop Ashley, a 27-year-old that plays soccer for the USA Women’s National Deaf Team. She has bi-lateral, severe-to-profound hearing loss,
Playing Soccer with Hearing Loss
Says Ashley in her article about playing soccer:
I used to have mild freak outs when I lost the ball. I would blame it on the fact that I couldn’t always hear someone coming up behind me or someone yelling at me from across the field.
I worried my teammates would fault me for that miss. It was even worse when it would rain, and I had to take my hearing aids out. There have definitely been a few games where I couldn’t see because of the rain, and I couldn’t hear. Talk about a predicament! Because I couldn’t always hear, I had to train myself (still working on this) to keep my head up and always be on the lookout.
While I shy away from team sports, it doesn’t keep me from “solo” sports like skydiving, riding a bike, or roller-skating.
Let’s take roller-skating. I used to roller-skate a lot around a five-mile parameter of Balboa Park in the San Fernando Valley. That path is shared with bike riders. In addition to not having good hearing, I was (stupidly) listening to loud music too through my headset. I did not hear three bicyclists approaching. I didn’t hear their bikes, their horns, or their voices, alerting me they were coming up from behind. Suddenly I was on the ground with two bikes piled up around me. No one was hurt, thankfully, but one of the bicyclists was irritated at me that I didn’t heed their warning as they were approaching. How could I? I COULD NOT HEAR THEM!
Today, if I were to go roller-skating, I would have someone with me. For a brief period, I thought maybe a T-shirt made that says on the back of it – “Hearing-impaired” would work. But, not if someone with questionable intentions sneaks up behind me. We did come up with a compromise, but not sure how close a bicyclist has to be before reading the words: “I Hear You Better When You Face Me.”
Because I cannot hear approaching cars, and I do not hear anyone shouting any warnings, I had a hard time while touring Europe.. My friend kept a constant, diligent eye on me to make sure I was out of the way of the locals riding their bikes. I do not ride a bike unless in a vast rural area with no cars and few people.
How about hiking? With my newly ignited passion for photography, I am taking more walks and more hikes in rural areas. The hikes can be dangerous. Why? If there is an animal in the bushes, I am not going to hear the bushes rustle. If there is a rattlesnake around, I will not hear its rattle. If I plan to hike somewhere rural, I usually take a friend along.
For all of the reasons as mentioned earlier, I don’t do camping at all. I was genuinely impressed with a second article written by Jaime Delpizzo about camping. Below is what she wrote in an Instagram post:
Camping alone is scary sometimes! Not having great hearing makes me much more aware of my surroundings. I am constantly looking around for wild animals or anything that might pose a threat. Being in my tent alone at night can also be intimidating as I most likely wouldn’t hear anyone/anything approaching or rummaging nearby. Camping with Arya [her dog] helps me be a little less frightened as I can look to her for sounds I don’t hear or understand. Regardless, this doesn’t stop me from venturing into the wilderness alone.
Don’t Let Hearing Loss Stop You
My experience and the experience of Jaime and Ashley reminds us that hearing loss does not necessarily mean drastic changes in one’s lifestyle. But it does mean taking extra precautions.