I was out walking my dogs last night and ran across our neighbor Jack and his dog Mollie. Jack and I have been talking for the past 6 months or so and he has a pretty profound hearing loss. Unfortunately for him, it is getting worse and his audiologist has told him that hearing aids won’t help him – he needs a BAHA (bone-anchored hearing aid). Last night, he decided to ask me what my surgery was like for my implant and admitted that he’s scared of the BAHA procedure. This is why I tell my story: so people like Jack know that they are not alone.
I told him the truth. Part of why it took me years to get an implant after I knew I likely finally qualified was because I was scared of it. Of the surgery, the recovery, the technology. I didn’t really know anyone else who had one to talk to about it. When I joined Hear Indiana at the end of 2014, I finally met people who had been through it all – people who had implants, people who programmed implants, people who performed implant surgery. They all helped me realize that, to quote my favorite song of late, it’s no better to be safe than sorry. The odds of things going wrong or not working were far lower than the possible benefits. By staying “safe”, I was losing out on a lot. This is what I tried to impart on Jack last night.
Anyone with any degree of hearing loss knows just how isolating it can be. Even surrounded by other people constantly, you’re lonely. When you’re at work in a meeting or in the break room and people are talking about the latest movie, first you either have no idea what they’re talking about because you didn’t get the name of the movie, or you do understand but you don’t know anything about it because the previews are not closed captioned or you didn’t go see it because captioning at your local theatre is constantly malfunctioning. Or worse, you did go see it with friends/family just to try to get out of your isolation, but still didn’t understand what was going on. Not that I’ve been in any of those situations myself… Yeah, right, I’ve been in all of them. And so has every other hard of hearing person you know. Or maybe it’s you.
And I look at this from an adult’s perspective. Imagine what that must be like as a kid in school.
My point is that you are not alone. Jack is not alone. I am not alone. There is someone else who has been there and understands. I would not have found that without Hear Indiana, and I hope that I can pass what I have learned from them on to others. That is why I tell my story.
Please consider giving to Hear Indiana today for #GivingTuesday on my behalf and support those children with hearing loss and let them know that they are not alone: www.hearindiana.org/donate