I am a broken crayon filled with many obstacles, disadvantages, and an overwhelming number of challenges. However, I can succeed with great effort and overcome the barriers in front of me.
On Friday, July 10th, I attended my appointment to have my processor remapped and fine-tuned the sound levels. I went through several tests to see how much I have progressed with my implant.
I lost the majority of my hearing back in 2015, and I’m not sure what happened. I suspect that I had an inner ear infection that went unnoticed. There is no logical explanation for why I suddenly lost a wide range of my hearing. During this time, wearing a hearing aid became useless. The change from being dependent on my left to my right ear was a difficult transition.
How the Sudden Loss Impacted Me
The sudden loss of my hearing left a profound impact on my confidence and self-esteem. I became more distant and began isolating myself from public settings. No one can understand the effect of hearing loss unless you have been there. I am a social person, and my disability robbed me of the opportunity to enjoy my social world.
I have trust issues as a result of being turned down, turned away, taken advantage of, denied, dismissed, and ignored throughout my life by those who consider me a handicapped, incapable person. The saying the world is cruel, heartless, and lacks compassion for others is true at times. People, in general, are so busy trying to prove themselves that the behavior of throwing others under the bus for their personal gain happens everywhere. Unfortunately, those who struggle with a disability are easy targets for these types of people.
I have stories to share of the struggles I endured by those with their hearing. I look back on my younger life, and there is a great deal of disappointment, sadness, and frustration. Despite the constant rejections, I kept going. Sometimes, I had no clue how to move forward and prayed for a miracle.
How the Implant is Changing My Life
Since getting the cochlear implant, there are days I want to cry because I cannot believe how much I have missed. My hearing ability has improved significantly, allowing me to build up my confidence.
I want to talk to you about confidence. There are different levels of how one loses confidence.
I am not talking about my self-esteem or lack of confidence to succeed. I am talking about confidence to be independent and live in the hearing world without fear. My fear is from a lack of trust that others will understand and demonstrate compassion towards my challenges. I depend on society to give me a chance and help me succeed in a world that is sometimes out of my league.
There is nothing worse than feeling trapped in our own life because of a disability. This implant gives me something I have never had: freedom and independence. There are no words to describe the overwhelming feeling of pure joy, happiness, and appreciation to be a part of the hearing world. Did you know that of all the people I have met, only a tiny fraction cared enough to walk me through my life journey? Only a small fraction cared enough to understand my struggles without me explaining and displayed compassion and encouragement to keep going. Most people who tried to connect with me could not understand my fear and frustration and moved on. I rarely hear from them. They seldom ask how I am doing, what they can do to help me move up, or try to understand my struggles.
I am forever grateful for my sign language class. Although our group is small, they have been the backbone to help me stay connected to a world I needed to be a part of (the hearing-impaired world). Sharing my experience and finally speaking the truth about how it is for me, and others has freed me from my silence. You know who you are, and I appreciate you and thank you. It is exciting that they share my journey and experience with my implant. It is incredible how one surgery can turn your life completely around.
Before the implant, I heard less than 10% of spoken speech, meaning I only heard 10% of what was said. The struggle was real as I had to work so hard to translate the spoken language that was barely a whisper. With the implant and without lip-reading, I understood 80%. That is a 70% increase in how well I hear and understand what is said to me. Remember that I have only had this implant activated since the end of May. That means a little over a month, and my hearing has improved by 70%.
The Real Question
How did I get this far on the minimal hearing I had, even with hearing aids? I don’t know how I survived in the hearing world. My right ear still has enough hearing, and I can benefit from a hearing aid. However, compared to my left ear with the implant, what I hear is slightly above a whisper at a sound level. I am pretty sure there was so much I missed out on and was unaware of what was happening. Before the implant, the little hearing I had was all I knew. Today, I am thinking to myself – wow. I mean, a 70% increase is a lot. How did I manage for so long with so little?
New Life and Journey
Some people mistreated me, such as my co-workers at the university. Instead of empowering me, they belittled me. How can people be so selfish and cruel?
I have a new career and a new start today, tomorrow, and the next day. I cannot thank the technology department of the school district enough for hiring me and allowing me to work for them. I am very excited about this new adventure in my role as a computer technician. I secretly had an interest and desire to support businesses by improving, repairing, and fixing technology. Although web design fulfilled my creative side, programming fulfilled my problem-solving desires. However, I am tired of looking at a computer screen all day. I want to stretch my legs and get my hands dirty. I cannot wait to learn new things, find solutions, and resolve new issues.
I will continue to post my progress and discuss some of the challenges I have faced in the past. I feel it is essential that people understand the challenges those with hearing disabilities face. The difference between the two worlds is difficult for those with their hearing to comprehend. Sometimes, I cannot always understand how we shuffle through a world that is so competitive and absorbed in the benefits of success.
I wonder if those who see themselves as superior could accomplish the same level of success with the extra burden and struggles one would have to endure without the ability to hear. My crayons may be broken, but they can still produce the colors of the rainbow.