Some of us individuals with hearing disabilities remember a time in our past when we could hear and recognize a voice calling our name. Then, all of a sudden we started hearing less. It’s frustrating trying to hear, knowing your hearing will not get any better unless you wear a device that helps you hear.
Growing up as a child, I remember there were days I could hear my mother’s voice. Other days, I was puzzled by the fact that her lips kept moving but I heard no voice. I wasn’t aware at that time that my hearing worsened. In fact, I was very quiet and did not socialize. When my family members and friends refused to play with me, I never cried but I felt lonely and afraid. Playing video games and 2,500 jigsaw puzzle pieces alleviated my loneliness but it did not help me socialize any better. It did help me read and count faster. My mother seemed sad and angry but she was the only person who made my days better.
As years went by, I learned how to read lips on my own. My mother noticed but she never said anything. When I was nine years old, I remember the day my mother took me to see a hearing vendor and she seemed nervous. The licensed hearing instrument specialist inserted both hearing aids in my ears and turned it on. The first thing I heard was my mother saying “Alicia! Can you hear me?” I didn’t say anything but I smiled as tears were running down my face. That was the first time I really, truly cried!
I recognized that I had a hearing problem. After crying, my mother kept saying “say something.” So I yelled happily “Yes, mommy, I can hear!!! Look, I can hear your voice!” She laughed and cried because there was hope for me to socialize and improve my hearing. My first hearing aids were behind-the-ear (BTE) and I wore them for eleven years.
They were big and I was bullied a lot so I started wearing “in-the-ear” (ITE) hearing aids about six years ago when I went to college. Both hearing aids improved my hearing level and I’m very grateful because thanks to my Audiologist and the hearing vendor, I regained most of my hearing and self-esteem.
Earlier this year, I noticed my right hearing-aid was very low on volume. No matter how much I try to raise the volume or insert new batteries, nothing works. My audiologist did not recommend the repair because I needed to wear better hearing aids that support my hearing level. Now that I’m older, attending graduate school and interning, it’s impossible for me to purchase hearing aids. A friend of mine helped me start a fundraiser in June 2012. Many friends donated and supported my fundraiser. In fact, one friend applied for a grant. On September 21st, I got approved for the grant and will soon hear better.
I am so excited and thrilled to wear new hearing aids since my current hearing aids are obsolete. Hearing aids are part of my life because without them I would never be the person I am today. Today I want to make you smile and remind you that you are not alone, so don’t be afraid to ask for help because there are people out there who are willing to help you. Hearing aids have helped me and I will continue to wear hearing aids as long as my heart can take it. So my advice to you, “accept who you are and embrace life.”