You look around and cannot understand what others are saying. You catch a word here and there. What are they talking about?
Were they talking to me?
Their mouths formed words jumbled together - not making a bit of sense. You are confused and frustrated because you didnt understand what you were just told. Whats worse is no one knows you didnt understand. Its not just loudness, its clarity.... the sounds dont make sense.
You look like everyone else and they cant tell. Hearing loss is invisible. Why am I so frustrated? Everything was almost complete silence.
Instead of putting the sounds together in my brain and connecting and building them into words, I read peoples lips and put sounds and thoughts together as best as I could.
I thought everyone did that, I didnt think much about it.
One day my mother yelled at me for not responding to her. I was so confused. I didnt know why she was speaking to me, but I knew she was so mad at me! I was watching television and all of a sudden she turned me around and yelled at me, Why didnt you come when I called you? Didnt you hear me? Maybe if you turned down the television, you would hear me!
She got my hearing checked. Thats when we found out. I was five years old with mild to moderate hearing loss. I didnt understand what it meant. In fact, I think few people understand what its like to be five years old and diagnosed with hearing loss. People felt sorry for me because I wasnt like other kids. To me, it wasnt anything to feel sorry about. It was a blessing in disguise, but I didnt discover that for years.
There I was.new hearing aids sticking out of my ears! They were molded to my ears, which were in-the-ear hearing aids like grandparents wore. Imagine a five-year-old coming to school with those! Sometimes I think about all the questions; What are those things? Why do you have those? Can I try them?
Luckily, I had a wonderful teacher. That helped a lot. She gathered the class in a circle and had me sit on her lap and she told the class about my new toy. Everyone thought they were cool and some actually wanted to get hearing aids themselves. I was so excited. A potential disaster avoided.
I was living in almost complete silence without my hearing aids.
I was different, and the difference was something my friends accepted. Most of them forgot I had hearing aids after a little while. I wanted to be like everyone else and wanted them to stop asking questions. I wanted to be accepted.
When I became an adolescent, I remember telling my mom I didnt need to wear hearing aids anymore. I reported I had perfect hearing and the things in my ears muffled the sound. So I no longer wore them at home. Almost complete silence.
I noticed sound, but couldnt understand what was being said. I decided at that moment, I was going to wear my hearing aids and not let others upset me.
During high school, I spoke at local colleges at seminars about hearing, hearing loss and hearing aids. Years have gone by. Ive grown a lot. Things that happened to me and the experiences I had when I was young, helped me grow to be the person I am now.
I try to help parents or children with hearing loss, to understand and know that they can get through the tough times. I want to help them understand what their children were going through.
For people living in almost complete silence, they miss a lot of what life offers and presents through sound. And importantly, you cannot know what you dont hear!
If I help one person manage or understand their hearing loss, then I am a success. I want to help parents understand what their hearing impaired children are going through and help them to understand how important it is to explore their options and choose the most appropriate solutions for their individual child. Each child is different.
I want to encourage people to be proud of who they are, with or without hearing aids, with or without hearing loss.sometimes we need to be reminded not to judge a book by the cover, or we may miss the very substance of the issue.
Its not the ears that matter most. Rather, its what between the ears that we need to attend to!