By Shawn Jackson
Losing your hearing can be a frightening thing. How many times have you heard someone say, “If I lost my hearing, I’d die!”
But more than that, you’re losing a part of yourself. Losing something you’ve always had, and perhaps took for granted, is a proposition that few truly can understand unless they’ve gone through it. And so, with losing your hearing, the feeling of loss can be very profound. Depression, denial, grief… these are all true and valid feelings one may experience with losing a part of themselves. In some ways, it’s akin to losing a limb.
Using myself as an example, I went through a deep depression that lasted well over a year. Though I did not encounter denial, grief was a constant companion. It was like the stages of grief, minus a couple of stages. I fought hard to feel normal, but the feeling was difficult to recapture. It took a long, long time before I passed onto the final stage of grief: acceptance.
Believe it or not, the thing that allowed me to accept my condition and situation was learning American Sign Language and being able to use it in a nearly every day capacity. Two of my co-workers were deaf and it was like a new fire lit under me and the fog that I had been stumbling inside of had melted away. Like the song goes, “I can see clearly now the rain is gone…”
For some people who lose their hearing as an adult, they simply do not want to learn ASL, nor do they feel as a part of the Deaf Community… especially if there are very few, or none, deaf people in their town or city. It then would be an exercise in futility to not have anyone to sign to. Family can be a tough nut to crack in trying to get them to learn ASL for you. Perhaps the answer is to get a Cochlear Implant?
Yes, I have a Cochlear Implant, as seen in the opening image when you clicked this link, but no one should rush into such a big decision. There are two main CI companies: Cochlear, Inc. and Advanced Bionics. Both offer comparable and powerful CIs and Sound Processors. The choice will usually come down to preference in features and accessories. But people who decide to go with it must be realistic. The hearing you recapture won’t be the same as it was before you lost your hearing. In fact, it may take some time to re-acclimate yourself to sound again. And you will be hearing everything!
This is just the tip of the iceberg in options when it comes to your personal hearing loss. While we may all have similar experiences and feelings, it is deeply personal what we all go through, and thus unique.
“In life, risk is part of the equation…”