I know I have mentioned this a couple times on my blog before but in case some of you haven’t read that far back . . . I am deaf. Not just saying that. I really am. I can’t hear at all out of my right ear. Well, maybe a little bit. I guess the best way I can describe what little I *can* hear is if you were to put your face in a pillow and talk. That muffled sound through the pillow. That is the sound I hear if, for instance, I plug my left ear. I call it “The Good Ear” even though it’s not that great either.
I always hated telling people that I am deaf. Most the time I don’t even mention it. And when I did tell people they would always forget which ear was the good one. So when I would be out at parties in college my friend might walk up and tell me something in my bad ear. I would be too embarrassed to ask them to repeat it in my good ear so I would just nod and hope that I had the right reaction. I’m pretty sure by doing this I probably missed out a good bit of party gossip!
When I do tell people that I lost my hearing they always ask me how. I have to explain that the cause of the hearing loss is unknown. I hate that word. Unknown. I want to know WHY I can’t hear like other people do.
Apparently, my parents found out I was hearing impaired when I was in the first grade. I always got sat at the back of the room because seat assignments were created in alphabetical order. And since I was a “W” I was in the very back. I guess I didn’t pay attention and started having some behavioral problems for which I would be reprimanded. Little did anyone know that I had a hard time paying attention because I couldn’t hear what my teacher was saying! I remember my first grade teacher being really sorry after I had my first ever hearing test. For the first time in school I got moved to the head of the class : )
The next months were filled with hearing tests, doctor’s visits and speech therapist appointments. They couldn’t really pinpoint the cause of the loss. In fact, they weren’t even sure if it was a sudden loss. Maybe it was hereditary and I had it at birth but it was never discovered. There was also the interesting, but very real possibility, that a cat had caused my hearing loss. Yes, you read that right. A cat. You see, when I was 1-year-old I was out on the back porch with my parents softly petting a cat who suddenly turned around and attacked me. Dramatic, no? Apparently, the cat scratched me up pretty bad. A day later I developed an extremely high fever. Dangerous levels. Basically, they thought I had developed “Cat Scratch Fever.” Yes people, it’s a real disease.
One thing was certain, however. There was no hearing aide that would help me hear better at that time. It had been determined that whatever the cause, my loss was irreversible. Permanent nerve damage. Each year I would go to get a hearing test and each year I lost another percentage of my hearing. It was then determined to be progressive hearing loss.
In 2002, at 23-years-old, I was fitted for my very first hearing aide. A digital one with all kinds of cool buttons. Most people get excited about their cell phones and MP3 players. While I get excited about technical advances in the exciting world of hearing devices. I assure you, I am 30-years-old, not 70! The made a mold of my ear and then when it was fitted perfectly to my ear lobe I got to go into my audiologist’s office and try it on. It wasn’t the most comfortable. Due to my type of hearing loss I can’t have one of those tiny baubles that fit in your inner ear and can’t be seen. I had to have one that fits in your ear and goes over the backside of your ear.
I wasn’t very convinced that it would help. But then my audiologist pushed the button and it’s was the weirdest sensation ever. To not hear out of that ear for so many years and suddenly, sound is rushing in. It was very strange. A good strange. I smiled and said that it was louder. Not necessarily clearer but definitely louder. I cried. My Mom cried. It was a great day.
Why did I decide to blog about this today? Because I recently noticed that when I am under stress I get a lot of ringing in my ears. It always scares me to death. I am lucky that this is my only health problem but I foresee this being a huge issue as I get older. I worry that I could be fully deaf in both ears by the time I’m 50. It’s a terrifying thought. But what was even more terrifying to me was that if my hearing loss was hereditary . . . would I pass that onto my son?
During the second day of our hospital stay after Landon was born a nice lady came in to do Landon’s hearing test. I must say, I was more nervous about this moment than the labor itself! I was so scared during the test. I don’t think I took a breath during the test. Naaman held my hand. He knew how afraid I had been of this moment. Suddenly, she told us that both ears had passed the test. PASSED! I cried tears of joy! I don’t know what I would have done if Landon had not passed the hearing test. I would have been beside myself knowing that he might not be able to have the simple joys of hearing my voice, listening to music or even hearing the crackle of leaves under his feet in the fall. I realize that so many parents deal with issues like this everyday and I thank the Lord every day for giving us a healthy son.
I can live without hearing in one ear and try to take it one day at a time. But it’s always in the back of my head. Will I be totally deaf someday? And what will that mean?