A couple of weeks ago, in my blog The Joy of Writing (About Hearing Loss), I recommended that people who have hearing loss may want to try writing:
“…as a way to deal with the frustrations and anxieties of communication challenges. Write a piece of inspiration that gets you through the hearing loss day and stick it on the fridge. Or write in a journal or start a blog. It doesn’t matter who reads it or if anybody reads it. What’s important is how it makes you feel and how it helps you deal positively with your hearing loss.”
Today, I’m sharing the writings of two women with unique hearing loss journeys who both express—with clear and painful beauty—the imprint of hearing loss on our lives.
Dee Bolemon lives in Orlando, Florida. Recently, after 18 months of navigating the turmoil of a hearing loss diagnosis, Dee Boleman found relief in writing down her story. When she shared it with her mother, it brought them both ‘amazing peace’.
By the age of four (4) years old, I had two physical disabilities. One was obvious. The other was not.
My mom noticed my limp as I walked. The doctor diagnosed Legg-Perthes Disease. This disease results in the femur head of the hip socket slowly breaking apart. At age four, I was told by my parents I must use crutches—or crunches, as I called them—for a few years until my bad hip healed itself.
For the next three years, I used crutches that allowed me to keep my foot off the ground, thereby allowing my hip total freedom from bearing any weight. This was not a normal childhood. No walking. No running. No swimming. No jumping. You get the idea.
And all the while, I taught myself to lipread. At least that is what my audiologist told me in November of 2013, when I was diagnosed at age 52 with a “Reverse-Slope” hearing loss that was most likely congenital or present since my birth.
Looking back, because I was a physically disabled child, I spent most of my time with adults. The kids ran around and played, but I could only keep up for so long before I had to sit down. So I learned to lipread by conversing with my teachers and adult family members. Listening became one of my best skills.
I know this now, as I look back over my entire life. When I was diagnosed with hearing loss, memories flooded back of instances where I misunderstood my teacher, and my family has many stories of me mixing up my words and transposing consonants.
My message for parents who find out their child has hearing loss: very often the signs of hearing loss in kids are difficult, if not impossible, to discern. My parents and grandparents missed the signs, and they were very involved in my daily life and cherished my every move and word. They just never thought of hearing loss.
I can share from my experience:
The good news is that kids adapt.
The bad news is that kids adapt.
Unfortunately in my case, I adapted so quickly that the true symptoms eluded the adults in my life who might have taken action to have my hearing loss diagnosed.
The good news is that if you now have a diagnosis for your child, you can begin to find what works to help your child stay connected and engaged with his or her world. Children are very resilient. Some find their own solutions, like I did, although they weren’t perfect. But we are very resourceful when we need to be.
My disabilities as a child formed me into the person I am today.
And I am okay with that.
Thanks for listening.
Angela Miranda – A Poem
Angela Miranda is an employment counselor at Island Deaf and Hard of Hearing Services in Victoria, BC. Angela’s deafened and hard of hearing clients say that this poem resonates for them. Since writing it, just last week in fact, she was overjoyed to learn that she has been approved for a cochlear implant.
Voices over voices,
Topics across the table,
Stories turn to noises,
And a sharp laughter startles.
Too straining to pry,
Too tired to try,
Off goes my adaptation.
But no audio.
Watching feels like staring,
Participating feels like observing
Gatherings become bitter sweet.
No, it’s my hearing loss.
It’s just isolation.
Let the words keep flowing…..