• twenty-eight. deaf. married to my high school sweetheart. decorating our first home together in phoenix. mama to cozy & cheerio. dreamer. web designer! more?

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My parents found out I was deaf before I turned 1 year old. The doctor bluntly told Mom that I was deaf and would have to go to a private school, get help, and many other things. Hurt by the doctor’s response, Mom cried and felt helpless because she wanted nothing but the best for me. My parents didn’t take this lightly and just listen to the doctor, they did their research on options for me.

When I was about 2 years old, I got hearing aids and loved wearing them because I could hear very well with them. I would constantly make noises “ahhh-lalala” and other weird noises when it was quiet or if I was by myself because I wanted to keep hearing. It was a bad habit to break when I got older.

The deaf institute was out of the picture since I would have to go live at school during the week and come home on the weekends. I was enrolled in a private deaf school in Seattle where their method was teaching SEE (Signed Exact English) and every word was to be signed and spoken at the same time. Every day I met with my teacher for 15 minutes to practice and work on my speech – I found it annoying as I got older. The school program only went up to 8th grade so I mainstreamed at my local middle school. I was actively involved in soccer and volleyball but I found it frustrating sometimes with friends. I don’t do well in big groups because it’s hard to lip-read and understand them. If I asked them what someone said they would always say, “I’ll tell you in a minute, hold on” then eventually never tell me because they forgot or it’s not important anymore.

I started hanging out with my deaf friends and went to deaf camps in the Summer. They used ASL (American Sign Language) which is different than SEE. ASL includes facial expressions and postures of the body. I’m glad I had the experience of attending both the deaf institute (for a year during my sophomore year) and my local school. I’m proud to be Deaf and have no problem telling people about my deafness. If I don’t understand someone, I tell them that I’m deaf and to either write it down or speak louder and clearer. I heavily rely on lip-reading too and sometimes people don’t move their lips when they talk!

My sister and I are the opposite of each other. I have exposure to both the deaf and hearing communities and she doesn’t have any exposure to the deaf community. Because of that, she doesn’t like people knowing she’s deaf. She won’t even let her hearing aids be visible which is why her hair is always down. I hope some day she’ll grow out of it and be open about her deafness. We both can speak very well and we don’t sign with our parents but they do sign and use their voice at the same time when talking with us. When my sister and I communicate we sign with each other.

In college I had a lot of friends that had cochlear implants. I was easily persuaded to get one myself because they were hearing all these small details that I could not hear with my hearing aids. I have never had a surgery before so it was a little bit frightening making this decision. Although it was an easy decision since I was not really using my hearing aid on my left since it was not helping me. So I decided to get implanted on my left because I wasn’t really going to lose any hearing anyways.

dscn4729
Surgery July 2006. Some people thought I had brain tumor.

dscn4742
The day I had my bandages taken off

About a month after the surgery, I finally got it activated. I hated it at first because it was so loud and overwhelming. I still use my hearing aid on my right side and would use my cochlear implant on my left at the same time. I started hearing a lot of things I could hear before but it was more clear and sharp. Sometimes I wouldn’t know what it was or where it was coming from and I had to ask Tyler or my parents. The only annoying sound with my cochlear implant is when Tyler rubs his hands. I didn’t wear it every day and I’m trying to fix that habit and wear it more often.

I know some people have questions about being deaf or about my deafness, feel free to ask anything you want to know!

  • http://lovecommashannon.com shannon

    This was so interesting to read! Thanks so much for sharing this part of yourself. I didn’t realize there were different types of signing. I can imagine how those new sounds would be really strange, also.

  • http://www.apricot-tea.com apricot tea.

    I really appreciate you taking the time to write about this. I know people have a lot of questions about things they don’t understand, & it’s great that you’re allowing people to question you.

    My husband’s grandmother, grandfather & a 2 of his uncles — all on his mom’s side — were all born deaf. I haven’t had the chance to meet his uncles (his grandparents passed away); they live in different states. But I hope to meet them someday.

  • http://rachieann.com/wp/ Rachie

    I guess the only question I have after reading this very informative entry is how do you take your cochlear implant out? Or did I read that wrong?

  • http://sleepyjane.wordpress.com/ sleepyjane

    This was super interesting – I also didn’t know there were different ways of signing!

    And like Rachie I’d like to know more about the implants. :)

  • http://www.luxechandelier.com steph anne

    I can’t take it out unless I have surgery to have it taken out. They surgically implanted a electronic device (so technically I’m a robot…jk) and it doesn’t work unless I wear my cochlear implant where I place the magnet behind my ear and I have a volume adjuster so I can turn it up and down.

    Here’s a picture that describes it better if I confused you – http://tinyurl.com/pv6nqp

    I hope that answered your question! :)

  • http://www.luxechandelier.com steph anne

    There are also different sign languages. British sign language, Italian sign language, Japanese sign language, Chinese sign language, and etc. It’s fascinating!

  • http://www.thatrandomleila.com/ Leila

    Thanks for writing that up. I found it very interesting. I’ve never had a chance to meet someone who is deaf so I found this very insightful.

    Thanks again :)

  • http://www.spiffykerms.com Nancy

    Hey that was great that you posted about your deafness. I actually watched an episode of House last week where the teen had a cochlear implant. As a child I was a bit deaf in both ears (just 25% though) and always had to have “tubes” inserted into my ear drums. I think eventually I grew out of it and everything healed.

    Again, thanks for sharing your story. I really enjoyed reading it.

  • http://www.peterdewolf.com Peter

    First time visitor. Great post. Thanks for sharing.

  • http://www.kylaroma.com Kyla Roma

    That’s so cool! I had a number of very close deaf friends when I was little, it was really interesting – their parents didn’t allow them to learn sign language so they wouldn’t be ‘different’.

    That’s so interesting – so when you say you don’t wear it everyday, does that mean you can turn it on and off? And if it’s broken do you have to have surgery to fix it?

    Such a whole other world! Thank you for sharing!

  • http://luxechandelier.com/ steph anne

    Yeah, I know some friends who grew up not knowing sign language until they went to college and met other deaf people.

    I can turn it on and off and take off the cochlear implant (external device) which looks like a hearing aid but also has a magnet attached. Once the magnet is on my head behind the ear, it’s on and if I take it off then it’s off.

    Picture of a guy wearing his cochlear implant – http://i44.tinypic.com/2rduux0.jpg

    The only time I’d need surgery is if I want to remove the electronic device inside or if something went wrong. My cochlear implant wire to the magnet broke off so I need to get that wire replaced so I can wear it again. I love wearing it when I listen to music! :)

  • http://halfdesertedstreets.com Lauren

    This was a great post – thanks for sharing it!

  • http://thosecorwins.com Steph

    Wow this was super informative. I’m really glad you wrote it. I’ve never really had any experience with signing or talking to deaf people, so I’m always interested in learning more.

  • http://yesnonmaybe.blogspot.com Yet

    How fascinating!! And I think it’s pretty cool that you could know what people are saying all the way across the room!! Reading lips is an extra great talent!!

  • http://yesnonmaybe.blogspot.com Yet

    Oh by the way, just stopping in from 20sb we love comments!!

  • http://amandablogandkiss.wordpress.com/ AmandaBlogandKiss

    Hey this was such a cool read! Thanks for sharing! Do you ever meet random non-deaf people who know how to sign? Your sister is deaf too? Is it hereditary?

    I tried to teach myself ASL when I was maybe 15, because I thought it would be neat to know. How naive to think I could learn a whole language from a book (that wasn’t the last time I thought that either!). haha oh well, never did learn it, not that surprising I suppose!

  • Erin

    My best friend is a deaf education major at our local college. She is currently getting her Masters so she can teach. When I was younger we had some family friends that were deaf. My mom knows ASL and I’ve been with her to a few deaf events. Unfortunately, I don’t know ASL but I love learning about being deaf. My best friend is always willing to explain things to me. I’ve told her about your blog actually. Haha.

  • http://maisquared.wordpress.com Mai

    Very interesting. Two of my friends are deaf and I always forget that they are (probably annoying to them), since I speak really quietly and sometimes look down or cover my mouth a lot when I speak!! One of them did one of her thesis studies on the deaf community (which she really wasn’t a part of) and we later discussed how closed they are about letting deaf people, who mainly associate with hearing communities, into their circle.

    also stopping in from 20sb we love comments!!

  • http://www.luxechandelier.com steph anne

    Yeah, I’ve met some people who know how to sign but they normally don’t remember much because they don’t have anyone to sign with. Also some people I meet are children of deaf adults (CODAs) so they know how to sign. My sister’s deaf and we haven’t done any family research to find out but I think my parents both have recessive genes.

    Haha, I think that’s awesome! It’s easier to learn when you have someone to practice with or use it with. I know some people are better at reading sign than signing themselves.

  • http://www.fatmumslim.com.au fat mum slim

    That was a lovely read. Thank you for sharing something so close to your heart.

    You are such a positive soul, and I find you so inspiring. xx

  • Amanda

    This was a lovely post, thanks for sharing! I’m a mamma to three children, my middle daughter Mia is 4 and she is also deaf. Her hearing loss was caused from birth trauma but was not diagnosed until last year so it’s all relatively new to us. She has a moderate loss in one ear, and a severe loss in the other. She gets great results from her little pink hearing aids though.

    It’s so wonderful to hear a real story like this, she absolutely loves her aids (and always asks to wear her hair up to show them off) but I always wondered what she would think of them as she got older.

  • http://www.twitter.com/danielsamuels Daniel Samuels

    Hey,

    I found this site randomly whilst searching for a completely unrelated thing. I have two BAHAs myself and I love them!

    Dan.

  • http://storyboutagirl.org Kirsten

    Thanks for sharing. I have a young cousin who is deaf. She also has hearing aids and seems to be able to hear quite well with them. They did not know she was deaf until she was almost 3 as she started talking and seemed to understand what people were saying to her. However she actually taught herself to lipread enough that no one questioned her hearing. I found it quite interesting to read about your cochlear implant. She has been looking into it. But is not sure she wants to go through with the surgery. So reading what you’ve wrote makes me understand a bit better her decision even though you got one.

  • http://www.knitinpublic.com Windsor Grace

    Thank you for writing that. It was so informative. It’s amazing how people who have to overcome things as children (wearing hearing aids, bowed legs, the eye patch glasses) are so traumatizing (being made fun of and bullied) can’t get over it as adults. I have friends with situations that were hard for them as children and their self esteems are still so low even though no one would ever know now. I love your story! And, as adults, people don’t care as much about hearing aids and such on others.

  • http://www.whirlwind.nu Angelica

    I found this to be a interesting post since I suffer from bad hearing as does my mother and my grandfather. My hearing isn’t extremely bad but mum and grandpa have hearing aids and rely a lot on lip reading.

    It’s great that you’re proud of being deaf. I used to be ashamed of even having slightly bad hearing when I was younger. That was utterly stupid since it only complicated things. Pretending to hear what people said rather than asking them to repeat themselves three times made conversations confusing at times. I realy on people repeating themselves if I don’t hear what they’re saying so I think what your friends did when they didn’t fill you in on what you weren’t able to hear was very unconsiderable. People do that to my mum and she hates it. She feels that even if they don’t think it’s important who are they to judge if she would find it to be?

    Anyway, like I said, interesting post and glad to find someone not ashamed of hearing problems. I have to admit maybe I could use a hearing aid. I don’t know because I don’t want one. It’s silly and stupid but I’m the same with my glasses which I never wear. I managed without glasses for 24 years and I’ve managed without a hearing aid for almost 27 so I feel weird adding them now. Stupid I know. I should think more like you when it comes to this.

  • http://www.loveeverydaylife.com Becky

    This was really interesting to read. I think like a lot of people, I feel really un-informed about things related to deafness so thanks for sharing all this information.

  • http://yummieecupcake.wordpress.com/ yummiee cupcake

    do you know the cause of your hearing loss?

  • http://thecuriouspug.com alycia

    i found your blog through kyla roma’s blog and i’m so glad i did! very insightful story :) i took ASL in college in addition to my speech pathology courses because I wanted to work with kids who received cochlear implants, but grad school never worked out for me so now i’m an xray tech. but i still enjoy signing when i can. i sign to songs on the radio to keep it up lol. i’m going to follow your blog too!

  • http://sewtara.com SewTara

    I just stumbled to your blog. This is really great that you’re sharing your story for everyone!

    I’m a teacher and my school is the one in our entire, and ridiculously large, school board with the DHH (deaf and hard of hearing) program. We have 3 classes of students who are integrated for some subjects and on their own for others. We have 3 deaf staff members and numerous intervenors, interpretors and staff who can sign. Hearing aids and implants are every day sights for me. My school also has many other kinds of special education classes, some with children with hearing loss. I’m frequently wearing an FM transmitter :)

    It’s been really neat to get to be a part of the program at our school and learn loads about deaf culture. Loved reading your story, again, thanks for sharing.

  • http://kitkatktmac.blogspot.com/ KtMac

    Haha, I totally catch myself making “tsk, tsk” sounds with my tongue when everything goes silent just to see if it’s my cochlear implant battery or just suddenly really quiet. I did it automatically when I read that in your post. 

    • http://www.luxechandelier.com steph anne

      Haha and I just did it too while reading your comment. :)

  • Bella

    I enjoyed reading about your deafness, but I am curious, you say you are proud to be deaf so why don’t you embrace it fully? The main deaf language is ASL so why did you chose to have the cochlear implant done instead of trying to speak fluent ASL? I look forward to hearing your reasoning, thanks!

  • http://howdygirl.com/ Laura at Howdy Girl

    So, I totally found your blog on a whim. One blog led to another and I saw your ad on the sidebar and clicked on it because I liked the design. Your story is so inspiring! I started learning ASL this past semester at college and my professor is deaf, doesn’t really talk, but with hearing aides, he can hear a few things. What a wonderful story you have!

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