Deaf

I’m Deaf…Yes, Really.

May 19, 2009

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.

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

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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!

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34 Comments

  • Reply shannon May 19, 2009 at 5:19 am

    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.

  • Reply apricot tea. May 19, 2009 at 10:22 am

    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.

  • Reply Rachie May 19, 2009 at 12:31 pm

    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?

  • Reply sleepyjane May 19, 2009 at 12:38 pm

    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. :)

  • Reply steph anne May 19, 2009 at 12:51 pm

    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! :)

  • Reply steph anne May 19, 2009 at 12:56 pm

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

  • Reply Leila May 19, 2009 at 1:49 pm

    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 :)

  • Reply Nancy May 19, 2009 at 6:11 pm

    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.

  • Reply Peter May 21, 2009 at 5:55 am

    First time visitor. Great post. Thanks for sharing.

  • Reply Kyla Roma May 21, 2009 at 7:48 am

    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!

  • Reply steph anne May 21, 2009 at 8:46 am

    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! :)

  • Reply Lauren May 21, 2009 at 1:53 pm

    This was a great post – thanks for sharing it!

  • Reply Steph May 21, 2009 at 5:05 pm

    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.

  • Reply Yet May 23, 2009 at 5:50 pm

    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!!

  • Reply Yet May 23, 2009 at 5:50 pm

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

  • Reply AmandaBlogandKiss May 25, 2009 at 11:12 am

    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!

  • Reply Erin May 26, 2009 at 8:12 pm

    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.

  • Reply Mai May 29, 2009 at 1:30 pm

    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!!

  • Reply steph anne May 31, 2009 at 2:42 am

    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.

  • Reply fat mum slim June 1, 2009 at 2:31 am

    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

  • Reply Amanda June 23, 2009 at 6:18 pm

    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.

  • Reply Daniel Samuels March 15, 2010 at 10:04 am

    Hey,

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

    Dan.

  • Reply Kirsten March 18, 2010 at 8:05 am

    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.

  • Reply Windsor Grace March 18, 2010 at 12:48 pm

    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.

  • Reply Angelica June 25, 2010 at 9:58 pm

    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.

  • Reply Becky September 10, 2010 at 3:50 pm

    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.

  • Reply yummiee cupcake September 22, 2010 at 12:14 pm

    do you know the cause of your hearing loss?

  • Reply alycia October 24, 2010 at 8:49 pm

    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!

  • Reply SewTara April 20, 2011 at 6:29 pm

    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.

  • Reply KtMac March 26, 2012 at 1:09 pm

    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. 

    • Reply steph anne March 26, 2012 at 2:13 pm

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

  • Reply Bella May 14, 2013 at 3:16 pm

    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!

  • Reply Laura at Howdy Girl May 23, 2013 at 1:13 pm

    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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