It’s Deafblind Awareness Week 2017 and for 5 days Deafblind Scotland and Deafblind UK will produce a blog written by deafblind people and those who are close to them.
Rogan shares the experience of his late wife Emily acquiring deafblindness.
Sight and Hearing loss is more common than you think: Let’s talk about it.
Deafness moved in slowly, imperceptibly. At sea in the evenings we listened to music and news, short wave interference giving Emily no problems: “my brain corrects the sound and I hear what the music should be”. Over some four to five years my musician wife complained increasingly of off-tune instruments and singers, finally abandoning the Proms she enjoyed so much. People “mumbled their words”. Over time music was replaced by her other hobbies-reading, embroidery and letter writing to her worldwide contacts. Home on leave after eight years, her piano, cello and violin sounded off tune . Her piano tuner-a friend and a brave man-suggested the fault might be in her hearing. Followed tests and a diagnosis of “profoundly deaf”.
Blindness was sudden and struck over a weekend. On Sunday, she could not read the papers. On Monday, the diagnosis was “partially sighted,” on Tuesday “blind” and on Wednesday she Registered blind and contacted Deafblind Scotland.
Our lives changed forever.
In a difficult and emotional time, Deafblind Scotland gave us the support and encouragement we needed to adapt.
I morphed into a carer.
Amongst many other things, Emily set herself the task of navigating the shopping streets of Glasgow without assistance using memory, with her mobile ready in case of emergency. In the car, her map reading was replaced by a satellite navigator. The voice was “Jane”. Emily did not like Jane, calling her “that woman,” complaining that “there is another woman in this car”.
I knew Emily for almost sixty years, learning to trust her judgement, admiring her adaptability and capacity for hard work. She faced the potentially catastrophic change in her life with typical courage and determination for over twenty years, leading a full life.
Late Onset Deafblindness with the correct support is not the end of life. It just feels that way at first.
Rogan is a retired Shipmaster and Naval Reserve Officer and has been associated with Deafblind Scotland since 2001. In 2012 Rogan was appointed as a Director alongside his wife Emily.