Recently, I’ve been writing about what I had to do to come to terms with my hearing loss. (For more details, go read Why Hearing Loss Evolution and not Revolution and Office Drama with Hearing Loss). A couple of years ago, after I got my second cochlear implant, I still had a nagging feeling that something in my evolution was missing.
Sure, I felt much more confident about “owning” my hearing loss, and advocating for myself. But what I didn’t know was still pretty heavy. I couldn’t tell you what type of hearing loss I had, or what my audiogram said. I couldn’t have told you if I suffered from conductive or sensorineural hearing loss, if my hearing loss was mild, moderate, severe or profound. I didn’t really know much about Assistive Listening Devices; Auditory Training was just a rumor, and I had virtually no idea about the laws protecting those with a hearing impairment. And hearing loops or captioning? No clue.
Since hearing loss was such a big part of my life, you’d think I’d have researched these areas. But I hadn’t. I guess I thought if I researched the topic, it would be the final cement labeling me as a person with hearing loss, and confirming the stigma associated with it. Fortunately, I listened to that nagging sensation in my gut, and started to educate myself.
Luckily I found Gallaudet’s two-year Peer Mentoring Certificate Program, and graduated in June 2017. Here are a few of the thousands of things I have learned:
I have a sensorineural hearing loss and it was profound before my cochlear implants.
I understand the anatomy of hearing (it’s fascinating) and how diseases affect our hearing.
I learned what vertigo and tinnitus are.
I understand what auditory training is – and how beneficial it can be.
I ramped up my knowledge, understanding and appreciation of assistive listening devices.
I became a huge advocate of the laws protecting children and adults with hearing loss.
And like I had hoped, I came to understand both the extent to which hearing loss can have a negative impact on us psychologically, and ways to deal with those feelings.
Knowing the technical, psychological and practical aspects of hearing loss has empowered me. Knowledge, as they say, is power. My deeper understanding of the complexities of hearing loss makes me stand taller, more confident and prouder in all areas of my life.
I’m sure I’ll still have my challenges but that’s OK. I now understand that coming to terms with hearing loss is an evolutionary process that will never end.
How do you feel? Does coming to terms with your hearing loss happen overnight or is it one step at a time?
Please watch for the launch of my new website Hearing Loss Evolution on September 1st – just two weeks away.