When I look back to my life before I met other people with hearing loss, I can see how they changed my world in ways I never expected. The following tries to express my gratitude for their impact on my hearing journey.
The new baby smiled and thrived, and her parents said, she’s good, she’s beautiful, she’s perfect.
But when at age two, she didn’t always turn, didn’t always answer, and started a lifetime of saying “what?”, her parents knew something was different.
The doctors said,
“It’s her hearing.
It will worsen.
It will never get better.
No, there’s nothing you can do.
Hearing aids won’t help.
Have her sit at the front of the class and
Make sure she pays attention!
Come and see me in a year, and we’ll test her hearing again…and the year after that…..and the year after that…..”
My parents believed what they heard and did what they were told.
But now that I know – a lifetime later – about hearing loss, about living, working, and loving with hearing loss, I know what could have been different then, and what can be different now.
Now that I know – that hearing aids can help, I ache for the years I spent scrunching my face, trying to follow, straining to understand. For the years of sounds and words that were off my radar, and not hearing the delicious the sounds of speech or the nuances of voices.
Now that I know – that my own speech was blurred, that I chopped off the endings of words because I didn’t know they were supposed to be there – I wish that someone had helped my parents to help me to enunciate.
But now that I know – that the technology I now embrace was only dreamed of then, my regrets soften and I am grateful for dreams that have been made real.
But now that I know – that all the technology in the world cannot completely banish the hurt, confusion, fear and anger that come with hearing loss, my memories of pain have changed into the sharing of experiences.
Because now I know – that by meeting even just one other person who walks with me on the road, sits with me on the curbs, and climbs with me on steep paths, the journey is smoother and less lonely.
Now I know that I can take charge of my journey, by asking for what I need and introducing better communication bonds into my relationships.
And because of all this that I’ve learned, now I know that I must pay it forward and say to someone else, “I know what you are feeling. Here’s a road you can take. I’ll walk with you.”
Oh Gael you always express things so eloquently. I am guilty of repeating many of the truths you’ve expressed Company on the hearing loss journey makes the trek so much easier.
Beautifully and accurately stated! thanks Gael.
Keith, thank you!
You always “hit the nail on the head” regarding hearing loss and I can totally relate to your childhood experience. My parents said I should always sit up front instead of having me fit with hearing aids. They were a stigma, especially for a child.
I love your insights.
Gael, all of your articles rate A’s, but this one is an A++++ and should be distributed in audiologists’ offices, hearing aid centers, etc, particularly to people who are just beginning this journey. Very touching and oh, so true. Thank you.
Judy, thanks so much.
Gael, I totally identify with your childhood experience. When I developed a hearing loss at age 6 my parents took me from doctor to doctor in search of a cure. No hearing aids until age 12. And, yes, I sat in front of the classroom.
Gael, I totally identify with this post. When I developed a hearing loss at age 6 my parents took me from doctor to doctor in search of a cure. Lots of painful treatments, and no hearing aids until age 12. And, yes, I sat in front of the classroom.
I am so sorry your early experience was so unsatisfactory, actually disastrous! When my parents discovered my hearing loss, the doctors (experts) held out no hope for me to hear, have an education, a job, or a normal life. This was back in ancient times, 1951, to be exact. I was to start first grade in the fall, so my parents got the best hearing doc and the best hearing aid on the market. It was to be fitted in time for school to start, but for some reason there was a delay in delivery. Among the first things we did was learning to read – my school used phonics, and it was the best game in town. In general I was not progressing in all the other subjects, though I tried my best, and was unaware of the issues flying around me. My teacher wanted me out of her class, I “didn’t belong there”. Dr. Sam Beidler told my parents “leave him right there, he’ll be fine when the aids come”. I was fitted during Christmas break and there was a big difference. I had already instinctively sat in the front of the class, a position I never gave up for the entire of my education. The basic reading course was finishing, with dipthongs and contractions, so it helped me catch up. I shot through our three shelf class library in a matter of a few weeks, making it necessary for mother to take me to the city library to get more literature, which I devoured. The teacher was amazed at the enormous catch up and progress, saying “I never saw anything like it!” I had a long succession of hearing aids and now have bilateral cochlear implants. Of course, went all the way through college to a BFA degree, and success in my jobs until retirement. One complaint – on the internet, I hate it when I have to read comments using “there” for “their”, “to” for “too”, “disburse” for “disperse” and hundreds of others. Very disturbing to see semi-literacy by hearing persons offending the language I love.