Hearing Elmo welcomes contributions by guest writers! Thank you to Tywanna for her contribution today!
By guest writer Tywanna
I was the first born in a family of three children. As a child and later a teenager, I attended “mainstream” schools. I did what all kids do – play, get in trouble, argue with siblings, visit grandparents, take part in church activities, etc.
I first noticed the decline of my hearing while attending college. People would call my name and I wouldn’t hear them. Early on I thought it was because they were calling me from far away. At some point, I began to turn the television up louder. Again, I thought it was someone/something else. Maybe the television program was being broadcasted at a low volume.
I now wonder if people around me noticed my hearing loss before I did.
While shopping with a college roommate, I took a hearing test while in the mall. The conclusion was I had some hearing loss. I don’t recall asking to what degree or which ear. Maybe I was unwilling to accept the results. Hearing loss? Isn’t that for the elderly? What young adult asks for hearing aids? Could I start a new fashion statement on campus? Were hearing aids the “in” thing?
I must have placed the results of the hearing test in the back of my mind. Similar to placing the skillet on the back burner while the remainder of your dinner is cooking. We often place items on the back burner or in the back of the closet until we’re ready to retrieve them.
While attending college, I worked part-time and also found time to enjoy activities around campus. I made it through college just fine. I attended classes, studied hard and was successful. Maybe that one hearing test was wrong? Maybe my hearing loss wasn’t that bad. Who knows what I was thinking. I was a young adult enjoying life and having a good time.
After college I began working full-time. I was still young. I had my own apartment, my own car, and money in my pocket. What more could I ask for? Life was good.
As the years went by the hearing loss became progressively worse. I sought the help of a few more doctors and the results were the same – you’re losing your hearing. The doctors would say let’s explore hearing aids. My mind would think – WHAT? Here they go again talking about hearing loss at such a young age. I was not ready to explore that option. I wanted to know why I was losing my hearing. There must be an answer. Maybe there’s a cure. Things just don’t happen for any reason. If advances in science and technology can send a man to the moon, there must be an answer for hearing loss.
While I was searching for an answer, my hearing and understanding did not improve.
I the late 1990’s I located a doctor who tested my hearing again. This time I was open to talk about hearing aids. The audiologist showed me various models and discussed which of those would be better for me. She suggested a behind the ear (BTE) hearing aid for both ears. Again I was thinking – WHAT? At least this time the entrance door to my mind was unlocked and open for business. I recall asking could I get small hearing aids that go in the canal. She politely explained due to the severity of my lost, those would not benefit me.
I soon began experiencing life with my first set of hearing aids. They were brown and BTE. They came with a small discreet pouch and with a remote. Wow! I wore them on an as needed basis. I still felt in some situations I was doing pretty good. Little did I know I was learning to adapt. Survival is based on adaptability. My first set of hearing aids lasted for about 5 (five) years.
I went a few years without hearing aids. I was working full-time and had completed my Master’s degree. I began traveling for work and I felt I was communicating with people fairly well. I was able to watch and understand television. I was an avid moviegoer. I spent time chatting with family and friends on the telephone.
At some point my hearing took another decline. I could no longer understand people without visual cues. Television was just noise. I had to use closed caption to understand what was being said. I slowly began to stray away from the telephone. My life as I had previously known it was changing.
Their came a time when I realized that I needed another set of hearing aids. A BTE set can cost up to $5,000, and they are not covered under the medical insurance plan. I located a great doctor who performed a thorough evaluation. After many tests – MRI, CAT Scan, needle poking, etc. There was still no answer. All these years of medical advancements and no answer! What’s happening to all the funding that goes toward medical research? The doctor’s best guess was genetics. How can this be genetic if I’m the only person in the family with hearing loss? The ENT explained that I was almost deaf. I did not expect this. The tears began to flow like a stream. I couldn’t help but think why me?
Many days and nights my heart was heavy with sadness. My eyes were sore due to regular crying. My head ached due to constant thinking of hearing loss. Was I a walking medical mystery?
When I received my second set of hearing aids, I wore them faithfully. I had many consultations with the audiologist. Each time our conversation would go something like this. Me – “Is this a good brand? They don’t seem to be working very well.” Audiologist – “Yes, you have one of the best. Just give them time.”
After two years and half years of the same conversation, I had had enough. I was angry and frustrated. I expressed my feelings to the ENT and audiologist. The ENT referred me to another specialist. He stated he referred his complex cases to this other doctor. I felt somewhat relieved.
With my new doctor and audiologist, I began another chapter in life. My cochlear implant journey…..
I had to make a choice. I could continue to be sad or I could continue living. I chose the later.
After reading so many stories of others, my heart began to lighten. Who was I to complain? I saw others who were worse off than myself. There were people without food and shelter. There were people who had overcome adversity in spite of multiple disabilities. There were people who lives were turned upside down. And there were people who experienced grief beyond imaginable.
The tears that used to run freely began to dry up. Who was I to question God? The medical answer I searched for was not forthcoming. I began to realize God made me this way for a reason. There is no such thing as chance or luck. Everything is designed according to his well-orchestrated plan. God does not make mistakes. I may not have a medical answer in this lifetime, but I was determined to keep moving forward.
I no longer cared what others thought; if they did not want to be my friend, who cares. I surely didn’t. It was their lost and not mine. If they were staring at my listening devices, that means they’re curious. Curiosity can be a good thing because it can imply a change in current thinking.
I’m beginning to learn one of my purposes in life – to share and educate others. I began to speak to others about hearing loss. The door to newfound friendships opened. I was beginning to meet people like me. The shyness of my disability that used to exist was fading. The woe is me complex disappeared. I learned to become proud and comfortable with the way God made me. I’m unique, different, head strong, and I’m me!
Some days I’m happy. We’re happy when things are going right. We’re happy when things are going our way. Happiness is based on circumstance. Most of the time I’m joyous. I have joy in spite of my circumstances. Joy is finding peace in the midst of thunderstorms. Joy is finding peace in the midst of trials and tribulations. Joy is living with a calm heart.
While growing up I recall a song the choir used to sing. “I don’t feel no ways tired. I’ve come to far from where I started from. Nobody told me that the road would be easy. I don’t believe he brought me this far to leave me.” I now have a greater appreciation for those words. Where is it written that life would be easy?
I have a testimony – one of faith, the ability to bounce back, and a testimony of God’s grace and mercy. All these testimonies would not be possible if it wasn’t for a TEST. In order to testify as to the goodness of the Lord, our faith must be first be tested.
I have a hearing loss. I’m a disabled person. I’m deaf..as opposed to Deaf. When the right times comes, I pray I’m able to hear the Lord say, “well done good and faithful servant.” (Matthew 25:23)