The unseen battle... - West + Rose

The unseen battle...


I don't talk about it on here much, but I happen to be severely hearing impaired.  I am deaf in one ear and am hearing impaired in the other.  I wear a hearing aid in my better ear and it corrects my hearing a great deal.  When I was little, my parents were told by doctors to enroll me in a school for the deaf.  I am so thankful they did not heed the advice.  Instead, I was enrolled in normal schools, swam competitively on a USS swim team, graduated from Auburn University and was expected to advocate for myself and to never use my disability as a crutch.  My tough-loving parents, and how they chose to raise me, are a very significant part of why I am as high functioning as I am.  

I received a new hearing aid about a week ago.  One of my least favorite things to do is get a new hearing aid.  It is a very emotional experience for me.  I work extremely hard, day in and day out, to rid myself of vulnerability...I assume many people with disabilities work hard at this.  The hearing tests that always accompany a new hearing aid make me very anxious.  Growing up, hearing tests felt like a matter of life or death.  It felt nearly the same last week, as I sat in the little vacuum-sealed pod raising my hands when I heard beeps and repeating words meant for a 5 year old like "airplane" and "tree".  No matter how confident I feel, I always cry in that room...Sometimes a lot, sometimes just a single tear.  I can't fake it til' I make it in that room.  In my mind, that room reveals just how vulnerable I really am...

Once I got the hearing test out of the way, some of the adrenaline that was pulsing through my body begins to calm.  My shakiness and anxiousness begins to settle.  Then it was time to try on the hearing aid and get the acoustics adjusted.  There are a series of tests I had to go through and give feedback on sound quality...all of which is done in a private and quiet room.  Then, they sent me off into the very loud world for me to figure it out.  

Not being able to describe how you are hearing something is very frustrating because it is all subjective.  It is unnerving to not know how you should be hearing things.  Adjusting to the sounds of your surroundings is exhausting and new noises are startling.  You are essentially retraining the brain in certain ways.  The worst is hearing your children sound different than when you woke them up that morning.  Their sweet little voices sound different...not better or worse, just different...and it is a little devastating.  

The process of getting a new hearing aid serves as a glaring reminder of my differences and deficits.  I have worn hearing aids since I was three years old and can, honestly, say that I have harbored very little anger or sadness about being hearing impaired.  I have always accepted it graciously for the most part.  I have always known how lucky I am, when there are those who do not have access to hearing aids at all..Even still, ungrateful emotions rise to the surface...

The ugly emotions rear their ugly heads.  I am reminded that I am hearing impaired, which I often forget, and it makes me angry.  I am reminded how sad it is that I cannot hear my children's laughs and squeals while playing in the pool with them.  It is a scary reminder of how dangerous life can be sometimes...from not hearing fire alarms or tornado sirens...to not hearing someone trying to get into the house.  I am reminded of all the deficits that I have to fight every day...and am then reminded of how exhausted I am from working so hard to compensate. 



I am reminded of my strength and how I always come out on the other side of these transitions hearing better and being more capable.  This process reminds me how vulnerable I am, which I hate, but it also reminds me of all I have to be thankful for.  This process of adjusting to a new aid is one of the biggest first world problems I can think of.  There are children watching their friends and family get killed as they dodge bombs in Syria.  There are women who fear being attacked with acid, all because they want an education.  When I compare the battles I have to face with the, quite literal, battles of women and children around the world...Mine is extremely insignificant..and I am so thankful for that!



1 comment

  1. Sweetpea - your courage is that of a tiger. We must stand strong in the face of all challenges. You still make my heart soar like an eagle!!

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