Looking Back

by

You may not be aware, but just after I joined gBlog, there was a major crash with the database. We lost everything. Fortunately the Internet Archive saves stuff now and then, but it takes time for it to appear on their website. So I’ve just looked at their archive, and I discovered that my first gBlog post is now available.

I’m amazed how much has changed in my life since then. It’s been a little over nine months since I wrote that, and I have almost been “reborn”. When I wrote that entry, I was in denial about my hearing loss. My accident happened in October 2006, and at the time doctors told me that my hearing would return to “normal”. (I have had a very mild hearing loss for many years but it was never anything that I worried about, and I identified as hearing.) So I applied to Gallaudet as a HUG student, and I was accepted as a HUG. All this time I believed I was hearing, and I waited for my hearing to come back. I waited and waited for over a year. Finally, right around the time that I wrote my first gBlog entry, I began to realize…my hearing wasn’t coming back. I had been struggling with conversations with my family and with doing a good job at work (I’m an interpreter) and it was making me exhausted and cranky. And I realized…it was because I couldn’t hear as well anymore. So I finally decided to do something about it. I got a new audiogram done (last one was before the accident) and found out that I am now considered hard of hearing based on my dB loss. So in order to do better at work, I needed to get hearing aids. I tried to get support from Virginia VR but they recently changed their rules and they couldn’t help me. So I bought the hearing aids out of my own pocket, $5700!! They are Oticon Epoqs and honestly my life hasn’t been the same since. I can hear my partner’s voice now, I can hear my mother-in-law’s voice better, I can hear perfectly at work, it’s all just amazing. And to think that when I got my new audiogram, the audiologist said hearing aids wouldn’t help me! Well they DO…unfortunately they are the expensive kind, but they DO help me.

So with my hearing aids on, I hear pretty darn well. But I can’t call myself hearing anymore. I haven’t been hearing since October 2006. I just didn’t want to believe it for a long time. After all, the doctors said I would be okay, so I figured I just had to wait. I’m sure this has happened to many other people who became deaf suddenly…the doctors think you will be okay, but you’re not. I went to the Mental Health Center on campus to talk about how I felt being labeled hard of hearing, wearing hearing aids, asking for help if I need it, etc. And I am coming to accept myself as a hard of hearing person. It is still a learning process. My place in the DEAF-WORLD is a strange one. The other day I told my story to one of my classes and the teacher said “welcome to the deaf world!” and another student said to let her know if I wanted to talk. So it’s been almost 2 years since I became hard of hearing, and almost 9 months since I started accepting it. I still act hearing a lot of the time, because with my hearing aids I can hear well. I hear 100% normal when I am interpreting in VRS (I use my hearing aids and a headset with two ears instead of one), and I hear about 98% normal when I am interpreting in other situations. One day recently, I forgot my hearing aids before work and I had to turn around and go back home. I can’t work without them. I can communicate okay without them, because I am learning what they call “communication strategies” like lipreading, making sure you can see the person, body cues, context, etc. So without the hearing aids I can still interact with hearing people, but I cannot hear well enough to interpret. I would never interpret without my hearing aids, that would not be fair to the deaf person.

So yeah…I wrote that original blog entry December 10, 2007. Now it’s September 23, 2008 and I’m a new person in some ways, and the same person in other ways. I can say it now: I am hard of hearing. When people see me react to sound and ask if I am hearing, I say no, I am hard of hearing. Because that is who I am. It’s a scary road to travel and a lot of people have been suspicious of me as I go through this transition. “What do you mean you’re not hearing anymore?” and “How can you be deaf now?” they say. Well, I am what is called LATE-DEAF. That is who I am. I am late-deafened, I am hard of hearing, I wear hearing aids, I need you to get my attention first if I’m not wearing my hearing aids and you want to talk to me, I am a HOH interpreter (and I’m not the only one, I know several others!), I am a Gallaudet student, I am learning, I am finding my place, I am me.

Advertisements

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s


%d bloggers like this: