Through the years, I have always been open about my hearing loss. The last ten years or so, I’d put up my hair into a ponytail whenever I could. I was “comfortable” with that. That way people could see that I was wearing hearing aids, that is, if they were paying attention. Then I didn’t have to explain why I didn’t hear them. I could point to my very visible evidence of my hearing loss and say, “I’m deaf or hard-of-hearing.” It’s such an invisible disability and most people aren’t exposed to people with hearing loss. Most of them make the mistake of raising their voices in such a way that it just becomes “noise” to me. It causes their speech to become even more distorted and incomprehensible. “Just talk like you normally would, only clearer,” I’d tell them.
When I lost the ability to hear speech in my left ear with a hearing aid (HA), my right ear took up the slack. Two years ago I was shocked to see how bad my hearing loss got, for both ears. That was why I did my homework on CIs (cochlear implants) and contacted a lot of people who had CIs. I gleaned a lot of information from other bloggers who wrote about their CI journey. I even did a research paper on the controversy of CIs and Deaf culture. (It had to be an argumentive paper, though it did help me learn about how a CI works and what it can do.)
Right after I was activated with my new CI, I was still open about my deafness. I didn’t care if anyone saw me wearing hearing aids or my CI. Sure, there were times when I did wear my hair down, but it takes a lot of time to style it and I feel like “me” with a ponytail.
I was thinking about the Biblical times when Jesus performed miracles, such as curing a man of his deafness. The man could instantly hear. I was wondering if that man could instantly recognize everything he could hear. Did it take time for him to adjust to hear? I’d like to think that it was instantaneous. It was miraculous. It was done by the power of God. The CI is a man-made modern day miracle, but a miracle nonetheless. It isn’t a cure. Some people have better results than others. I pray that they, too, will hear better with time.
Yesterday, I had pork tenderloin simmering in the slowcooker and I was out of a Hubby-veggie: Potatoes. My refrigerator is almost empty. I am badly in need of a trip to the grocery store. I know that Hubby will be taking me there sometime this week. :)
So I told Hubby that I was going to run to the gas station and get a potato. Yep. I went there to just get a 19 cent potato. LOL. As I was walking down the sidewalk, I hear a woman’s voice say, “Ma’am.” (Doesn’t that make you feel old? Winks. Yeah, I admit it’s better than “Hey you!!” LOL).
Anyway, I turned to look at her, thinking to myself, did I forget my change or my sunglasses at the counter? Nope. Then she said, “Are you wearing a cochlear implant?”
No one asked me that before. I’ve been wearing it for almost two months!! I’ve asked Flare if anyone stared at my ears at the stores or anything and she always said that she didn’t notice anyone staring. Maybe people didn’t know what they were looking at, didn’t want to ask, didn’t notice, or just minded their own business.
I guess I blinked for a split-second, in shock. She knew what a CI was. Granted, people who don’t know about CIs would assume it was a hearing aid or maybe even a bluetooth if they didn’t really know too much about bluetooths, either. After all, some people have had their CIs stolen off their heads by thieves thinking it was a bluetooth. .
She said she saw me walking by and spotted my CI. She just had to ask me. Her nephew was getting a CI soon-maybe. The mother was getting pros and cons about the CI. The little boy was two. I have only seen two people in my lifetime, in person, who wore a CI. The first time was about 10 years ago, a teenage boy was wearing one and then about four years ago, I met a little girl in the waiting room at the clinic. I spoke with her mother about her CI and I even used some sign language to talk to her. It was such a weird experience. So I imagine, for this woman, when would she have another opportunity to meet another person with a CI? She even said she just had
to talk to me about it.
We kept talking for a while and then she asked me for my name and phone number. I didn’t have a pen and paper on me and neither did she. She went into the gas station to get a pen. I know, you don't go around giving your name and phone number to strangers, but I trust my instincts on this. She was not a psycho, just someone who wanted information about CIs.
So there you have it. I just had my first “advocacy” moment, talking about CIs. I was giving positive feedback about my CI . I am very happy with it. I know it’ll still take time to get that “helium” out of the voices, but every day it gets easier. Every. Single. Day.
(Since we are having trouble with our toilet flusher-thingy, I can hear the water running and give that handle a good tap to fix itself. The water bill is getting expensive enough without having to have that toilet continuously running water. I am so glad I can hear that when I am sitting in the living room or walking around in the dining room, which is at least 10 feet away from the bathroom).
I didn’t mind offering her my opinions about my CI experience. Everyone’s CI journey is different. I am loving mine. I hope that the boy’s mother will contact me. Maybe I can help her make an informed decision about whether or not to implant her son. I will not push her to any one brand of CI. They are all good. Neither will I push her to implant her son if she didn't feel comfortable with it. It's so much harder, I think, about making a decision to implant a child with a CI, even though records show that it is more successful in children under 5 (pre-lingually).
I really felt good talking about it.
This lady knew a lot about CIs, too. She certainly did her homework on it, too. She was saying that the CI was like a computer. Technology gets better all the time.
Only thing is, I’m glad I have my CI now. I am glad that I didn’t wait for something better to be invented or wait for a cure would be found. The CI is backwards compatible, meaning I can always upgrade to a newer model without having to replace the internal implant. So I didn’t have anything “better” to wait for.
Still, it was so cool to meet a stranger and be comfortable talking about CIs.