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