A week ago, I was profoundly deaf in both ears. Now, I am profoundly deaf in one ear, and deaf in the other ear. It’s all I can think about the past few days since I tested the implanted ear with my phone. My head knew I would not hear anything, after all, that was the side effect of the cochlear implant. My heart broke nonetheless at the true realization of it, and the ramifications of how I will have to compensate when I am only wearing my hearing aid, how my family, my husband, my children will have to adjust in the months coming as I acclimate to the implant. The weight of it is on my shoulders, and with a heavy heart, i know I will have to do most of the work to make this succeed. I cannot fail. I will not fail to achieve the goal of the implant, which is to hear more, comprehend more and thus have a richer, fuller life. Not that my life was not already full and rich, it was, it just will be a different quality.
I have been having trouble sleeping as I have been thinking about this nightly since Saturday. I have been grieving the loss of my identity. I saw myself as largely hearing, as that was how I lived my life. Now, I need to see myself as deaf, and adjust accordingly. My identity, self esteem, has been so tied into how well I had succeeded in school, in life, despite my hearing loss. Despite wearing two hearing aids, and the success of my lipreading skills, and my speech comprehension. I am afraid of failing. I am afraid of the possible inability to continue to achieve all that I worked so hard for, to regain those skills, to regain that sense of independence and self worth.
The onus is on me to eliminate background noise when it is interfering in my understanding of my husband and children (and others), to repeat what I hear to ensure I heard correctly, to tell others what I need them to do, in order to assist me in this rehabilitative process. Focus and concentration is not all that is needed. Understanding and support from my family, children and husband. A willingness by others to take the steps needed, step closer, turn off the tv, to look at me, make sure the lighting is good, wait for me to put my glasses on etc. etc. etc.. All those things will need to be reinforced by me and them. Practiced and enforced. That will be the only way this will succeed in accomplishing what I want the most… the ability to live my life with less frustration and aloneness, and isolation from others.
I will never have normal hearing. I will never be a hearing person. I am Deaf. I need others to understand that, and understand that the hearing aid and the implant, are only meant to assist me in hearing more than I would without them. Without them, I am Deaf. With them, I am Deaf, but assisted in hearing with the use of a hearing aid, and a cochlear implant processor. If they are not on, and turned on, or the batteries are dead, they are useless. I am Deaf. That is my reality now.
I hope, that you, as my friends and family read this blog, and all the entries,will try to understand this. Will try to help me as i adjust to my new life, my new reality as a Deaf person. I pray for patience, understanding, cooperation, and empathy. I pray that those closest to me, will recognize when I am having a bad day, frustrated, sad, hurting, and scared and will give me the leeway and support I need, and give me the hugs i need as I work through this. I cannot do it alone. I will fail otherwise.
My reality is: I am Deaf. Nothing will ever change that.