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The Dark-and-Dirty Secret of People with Hearing Loss

 By Gael Hannan, Hearing Health Matters 9/10/2013

Hearing loss changes lives. I know this because without hearing loss, I’d be married to a completely different guy and my son would look very different – like a girl, maybe?  And I know this because of the secret vice that interfered with my marital selection process.

My dark-and-dirty secret is that I’m a bluffer. Yup, I pretend to understand what’s being said, even though I may not have a clue. And I’m a good bluffer, too; I’ve had lots of practice from an unbeatable combination of lifelong hearing loss and being an actress.  If you’re looking for a talented hard of hearing bluffer, I’m your girl.


Bluffing, faking, and passing are all words that describe a habit of  99{31ab897a4370feb218155abc15d7b38f5bba01528a749bd66fe114ec092a63fc} of people with hearing loss.  And since I’ve never met anybody who did not bluff, I’m going to suggest that 100{31ab897a4370feb218155abc15d7b38f5bba01528a749bd66fe114ec092a63fc} of people with hearing loss bluff at least some of the time. Every single, last harda-hearing one of us.

We pretend we understand what’s being said – we nod, smile, say uh-huh and a thousand other little motions that assure you we’re with you all the way. But, in fact, if we were challenged, we could not repeat back what you said.

Some of us bluff occasionally but for others it’s a way of life. We bluff in our relationships, at work, with strangers and even –  it’s sad to think how low we can sink – during appointments with our hearing care professional. Our bluffing has mixed results, but they are usually not good. You end up with strange food on your restaurant plate and you laugh at the wrong moments. As my friend Myrtle says – you’ll answer questions that have never been asked and accept invitations that have never been offered.

My bluffing moments are often minor in scale, for example to speed up an otherwise boring conversation that would drag on forever if I actively participated. Sometimes, though, the situation is major. The biggest impact of bluffing is on Romance and in one of those life-defining moments, my bluffing changed my future, and it would take me years to fully realize what had happened.

It started on a moonlit beach.

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