Decades ago, I heard the soft buzzing sounds of these blood-suckers flying close to my head. I remember the "bzzz zzz" sounds growing louder, then softer as they mercilessly dive-bombed my flesh, expertly avoiding my swatting hands. It seemed only fair that a warning sound accompanied the presence of these tiny predators. Until I lived in South Korea for a year:
It was the middle of winter and way past my bedtime. I pulled my warm comforter up over my body, leaving my face exposed, and turned off my lamp. Fifteen seconds later, I felt countless tiny needles embedded all over my face. Terrified that a giant, strange Korean insect was stinging me, I snapped the lamp back on, but didn't see anything. I grabbed my glasses and inspected the comforter and sheets for scorpions, spiders, and other insect life. Maybe I imagined the whole thing.
I got back in my bed and turned off the lamp again, only to feel the same sensation fifteen seconds later. Lamp and glasses on again, I looked up and saw a flying cloud of dozens of mosquitoes making its way up to the ceiling, then dissipating. I turned the lamp off, then on five seconds later. The cloud had formed again and moved a third of the way down the wall, but immediately started going toward the ceiling when the light came back on.
These were not wussy Florida mosquitoes. These tough mosquitoes thrive in winter and work together as a unit. One of my Korean friends, David, calls them "Soldier Mosquitoes" because of their abilities. They can even pierce through a soldier's thick uniform.
To top it off, these "Soldier Mosquitoes" fly without making a sound! At least, that's what I thought until I returned to Florida and discovered Florida mosquitoes had become silent.
At least they're not invisible.
Do you notice anything unusual about this photo? Look closely. The little girl in the party hat is me. This photo was taken when I turned five years old, and at this time, no one knew that I was legally blind and hard of hearing. Looking at the photo now, I can see that I was lipreading my mother - close up.
In the 1960s, hearing screenings for newborns were not done. My parents were unaware of my blindness and thought I was clumsy because I tripped and fell down often. I supposedly "ignored" them a lot and got spanked for doing so. They were frustrated and angry, not knowing I couldn't always hear them. I tried to pay attention to avoid spankings, but it never worked.
Growing up with just enough vision and hearing to fool everyone, I had no idea the way I saw and heard the world was different from other people. In Kindergarten, my blindness was discovered when the vision screener asked me to tell her the letters on the chart and I said, "Where's the chart? I only see a wall." When I was eleven years old, my parents and I were shocked to find out about my deafness.
If you grew up with a hearing loss, how old were you when it was discovered? At birth or later?
People tell me I lipread well - I can even tell if a person has a southern American, Hispanic, or British accent just by lipreading alone (found this out with different interpreters signing and mouthing words silently). This very informative video demonstrates the difficulty in lipreading WITHOUT hearing any sound. Because I can hear low frequencies, lipreading still works for me, but if my hearing continues to drop, I'll require written or signed communication. Please watch this video to see what profoundly deaf lipreaders endure in every interaction with hearing people who do not sign.
I attended a huge public event recently and requested CART (Communication Access Real-time Transcription). Instead of CART, I received an ASL interpreter. This was my first time requesting an accommodation, and might have been the first time the organization I contacted had ever received such a request. Lesson learned - when requesting accommodations, take responsibility for making sure definitions and accommodations are understood. Even though the ADA gives us the right to request accommodations, the people required to provide them don't always understand what we're asking for. To ensure this doesn't happen again, I created this presentation with a three very short videos embedded. Feel free to leave suggestions.
I know, I've neglected my blog and my readership. I'm sorry. The shock of having my daughter unexpectedly get married and move away to another state has somewhat subsided, so I'm back.