Due to my surgeries I have a few limitations that are, perhaps, not so obvious. Limitations that I need my friends and people I hang out with to know, and do their best to remember.
1. I cannot talk loud.
After my last major surgery which was in summer of 2007 my left vocal cord was paralyzed. At first my voice was completely hoarse. I waited about a month, and there was no change, so I went to see a doctor specializing in vocal cord. He injected a substance called collagen to my vocal cord box from the left. The collagen pushed the left vocal cord towards to right cord which made for a better contact. This substance dissolves after a few months, but in my case somehow after a few injections the left cord stabilized in the center. Still, in summer of 2009 I decided to have a surgery where the doctor implanted something small to keep the left vocal cord close to the right.
So I'm able to talk and be heard, but not in every situation. If we are hanging out and the music is on loudly, either lower the volume a lot, or don't ask me any questions from the other side of the room. I prefer you show some understanding, and lower the volume so that I can make myself heard over the music. When the music is loud chances are that even if you're standing right next to me I won't be able to make myself heard.
Packed bars on the weekends are a problem too. Yes it's hard for everyone to talk, but it's impossible for me, impossible. Packed loud restaurants are also an issue. If you're sitting next to me or across me it should be fine. Even a hangout with more than 4 people could be a problem especially if it is with people who love to talk and hear their voice. A good argument between a few people will be hard for me to jump in on. Try been more attentive. Remember I'm there, and cannot raise my voice over others if I want to jump in and add something to the conversation.
2. It's hard to swallow.
This got much worse after that surgery in the summer of 2007. I had a swallowing test. They make you swallow a few types of liquid and solid food, and they use an x-ray machine to see how well the liquid and food go down the throat. Seeing the results, I was advised to turn my head left and a bit down to help with the swallowing. If we are eating out, or having some BBQ, don't get weird out by this, I'm just trying to swallow.
What you should try to remember is that since it is hard for me to swallow it takes me longer to eat. I have to remember to cut my food smaller, and chew longer. So if you're trying to estimate or plan the night, remember that dinner would take a bit longer. Also, sometimes I swallow to quickly. What I usually have to do is cough the food back up so that I can chew it a bit more. It rarely gets to a point where I have to spit my food out. You probably won't notice me coughing up my food unless you are watching me eating the whole time. Try to save face, and don't get gross by this.
If we order a shared dish, probably an appetizer, try not to be too rude, and leave me my share. What I might feel like doing (perhaps if I had some bad experiences with you) is take some of the dish to my plate. Please don't give me attitude, and remember I need to chew longer than you. By the way, everyone should take their time and chew longer. Researches say it is a healthier way of eating. Plus you will enjoy your food more if you take your time and really take in every bite.
Water. If there is a jug of water on the table, or some other soft drink, please do not give me attitude if I fill my glass all the way up, and by that finish what was left in the jug without offering some to someone else. Sometimes I feel like I might need the extra water to help me swallow down the food. It's better than me chocking, and making a scene right?!
Also you should try to remember that sometimes I chock for no reason. Out of nowhere some weird tinkeling happens in my throat that causes me to cough hard. If at the time we are eating, please don't tell me to "take it easy, slow down." That could piss me off because my thought would probably be "awesome, even though I probably told you a few times about this problem I have you keep forgetting." If I'm really chocking I think I will avert your attention, so that you could help me out, and prevent me from passing out and maybe dying...
3. I don't hear well on my left ear.
This is nothing new, but I feel like it has gotten worse. Could be that I'm just more aware of it now. The nerve itself is ok, it just that the ear canal is blocked because of the shape of my ear, and the sound doesn't get through well enough to the eardrum.
If we are walking on the street, try to walk to my right. If we are sitting somewhere, anywhere, sit to my right. Don't even think of trying to whisper in my left ear. This hearing problem gets worse when I'm eating. Especially food like potato chips and similar food that cracks and makes lots of noise in your mouth. If you are talking to me, and I'm not responding please don't get offended, I'm not ignoring you, I'm not that kind of a person. Try taping my shoulder or waving your hand right in front of me like an idiot to get my attention (don't worry I won't think you are an idiot, unless you really are...). I also have ADD, so just make sure I'm aware you are talking to me. You could be right next to me, especially if you are on my left, and I won't be responding. Again, I'm not ignoring you, I'm just not hearing you (well the correct term would be listening), and that is due to medical reasons.
4. My left eye doesn't blink.
The whole left side of my face is paralyzed. When it comes to my left eye, it won't blink, maybe a little, but not all the way down. As a result, single tears come out sometimes. When your eye blinks it is kind of similar to when you swallow the saliva your body produces. The blinking is like the swallowing. So if you see a tear coming out from my left eye, don't be alarmed, I'm not crying. Unless it was something you said, but probably not. I almost never let what people say to me offended me. Yes, I'm an emotional guy. I could spare some tears if I'm watching an emotional movie, or a sportsman I like cry after winning some tournament like Bubba Watson did when he won the green jacket at the masters this year (what a shot on that 10th hole aye?). But if you see a single tear coming out of my left eye to say hello, don't worry just hand me a tissue.