Because you’re reading this article – or at least its first line, so far – I assume it’s because you have hearing loss. And if you’ve gone on to this second line, perhaps you already know that the impact can be profound, even if your hearing loss is mild.
You also probably know that by reading other people’s experiences with the same issue, you will learn stuff that that helps you go forward, to deal better with your own hearing challenges.
And if you’re still with me here in the third paragraph, I can tell you that much of the success I’ve had with my personal severe to profound hearing loss has been inspired by other people.
There are those who resist or pooh-pooh ‘motivational’ stories because they don’t believe in their ability to create lasting change. Others plaster their house with inspirational quotes. You’re great stuff! Believe in yourself and others will too! I sit somewhere in the middle, but it’s a fact that when I was inspired to look at hearing loss in a different way than I had always done, I changed and so did my ability to handle my hearing challenges. I was able to adopt new practices for making my life more hearing-accessible.
If you’re willing to read further, I am not going to try and inspire you with individual hearing loss success stories, although I know a million of them. But I do want to share the idea of how community can make a difference. Our mutual community – yours and mine – is the hearing loss world. I could write and talk about this broad network and its wonderfulness for hours, days, weeks. But not now because the words I want to share are those of a man I’ve never met, but whose words about the power of community rocked me when I read them on Twitter.
Brian Wallach has ALS, Lou Gehrig’s disease. He was diagnosed two years ago, and he and his wife have are campaigning and fighting for a cure. He has almost 40,000 followers on Twitter and recently someone retweeted his Twitter-thread about a fall he recently had that required medical intervention – and the help of many strangers.
Brian wrote about his gratitude for community in such mighty words that I asked his permission to repeat some of them in my weekly article. He immediately responded with: “Absolutely! Thank you for being amazing, Gael!” This was from a man I’d never met, who knows nothing about me, yet in a simple exchange, his words thrilled me and drew me into his community of supporters.
Here is some of what Brian Wallach wrote after his accident, when he reached out to thank those who had helped him in many ways.
Some communities we join voluntarily, others we are thrust into.
All, however, make us part of something greater than ourselves. They allow us to transcend our mortality. They allow us to leave our mark on others. They inspire us, drive us, and pick us up when we fall.
It has been difficult to write this thread, and I debated deleting it multiple times. I didn’t, in the hopes that the reminder that though life is not a straight line, we never walk alone, could help someone today. Could inspire someone new to join our fight. Could remind us that we will fall hard at some point in life, but that we will get back up and move forward stronger than ever, buoyed by our community.
On our own, we are fragile. Together, we are strong and capable of amazing things. Thank you for reminding me of that.
As I read through the incredible replies to this thread, I can’t help but smile at how lucky I am. We started this journey alone and in tears. The tears are still with us but the sense of isolation has been replaced. Replaced by a daily showing that despite what we see elsewhere, we are one human family bound together by love and loss, fear and hope, and desire to build a better future.
In another post he wrote, “My arm muscles may get weaker by the day thanks to ALS, but my gratitude muscle has been in the gym 24/7 and is now ready to turn pro.”
That’s how I feel about my hearing loss community. And if you let it, this same hearing loss community will welcome you. At the very least, you’ll learn some practical and technical ideas that can move you forward. And best of all, you may become that person who inspires someone else to move forward.
For more information on Brian Wallach and his fight against ALS, follow him on Twitter, @bsw5020, or visit his website : I am ALS.