September 2013

Boy, when I started this blog I fully intended to write frequently, so I could have a diary of my progress. Life doesn’t work as we intend so I suppose this shouldn’t make me feel guilty. The past year has been a roller coaster ride with work, finances, and my emotions over the whole process.

Where am I at right now you wonder? A year ago I was full of mixed feelings about my decision to implant, which included the panicky feeling of: “What have I done to myself?!” My return to work was anything but enjoyable for more reasons than one; missing my baby boy, missing co-workers who had been let go in my absence, and the unrealistic expectations of my boss in terms of my rehabilitation process and ability to resume certain tasks in my job. I was despondent, dismayed, and angry as a result of the lack of support I received from my boss. Even as I noticed things daily, sounds, and differences from before, they paled in the midst of the discrimination I was experiencing, and the not so subtle attempts to force me to quit. Once I became unemployed, those feelings magnified, and as my post illustrated a year ago I saw myself in ways I never had before. For the first time in my life I sought help from an organization for deaf people, the Canadian Hearing Society. I needed help finding a new job, and determining whether to file a claim. (I did, and this claim is in process, and I will update more at a later date.)

I spent many days quietly holding back tears until my baby was in bed, and vented and raged and cried to whomever would listen. Family and friends were understandably empathetic, but were also at a loss as to how to help me through this. I had always been capable, independent and more like a hearing person than a deaf one. Seeing me so negative and despondent over my deafness was a new one for them. I turned to my baby sister who encouraged me in my job search, even passing on jobs she knew I could do. For months she did this, and it subtly increased my confidence in myself again. I still feel skittish and unsure when I apply to jobs, but I am better able to select the right ones. I may not be getting calls, but that’s ok.

Months later I returned to work in March briefly, and my last post that month, illustrates the sudden turnaround of my feelings about the implant. Comments about my speech, my interactions with customers, and co workers only served to remind me just how capable I truly am. I also began to notice that I had made more progress, despite being home with my youngest and not having much interaction with others.

I have been looking after two children part time since February, but it has been difficult finding more children here. I even had one parent decide not to meet me in person once I revealed my deafness and weakness in using the phone. Her decision infuriated and depressed me because it was made without meeting me, which would have eliminated any concerns she had. She didn’t say that was the reason, but the evidence points to it. My husband said it was her loss and was less than impressed with her himself.

So now, as I seek another job, and struggle with feeling as if my deafness will compound the search; I still feel hopeful that I will find the right job again. Finding the right job and fit will not be easy, but i will persevere. I may even take some more courses in the new year if nothing comes up by then.

I notice new things every day, although I still have to stop and make myself recognize things daily. My speech comprehension is improving, both in face to face conversations and on the phone, although I am still reluctant to use the phone more than necessary. I can identify and hear the school bus before I see it, when I pick up my daycare kid. I can hear most times the beeps of the timer on the stove from the family room. I can hear the softer sounds in my speech and have noticed that its much sharper. I can hear and almost localize birds, conversations outside. I definitely hear more than I did before, even if I don’t always recognize things or acknowledge them. The biggest challenge is the acknowledgement of these milestones and sounds since a two year old cannot reinforce to me that “yes mom, that is what you heard”. I know they’re there though, even if I cannot list them to you right now.

My feelings today about the implant, is that I know I made the right decision. I enjoy music and movies more because of the additional sounds I hear. I can identify more songs on the radio, and words spoken by the announcers. At the two weddings we attended this year, I danced with more joy because I heard so much more, and recognized so many more words. I did discover that hearing more did not instil an appreciation for rap or hip hop, which amused those I with. My life with a toddler is better, even if I cannot for the life of me decipher his toddler speak. I can hear him from two rooms away, and can hear him crying from his room while standing at the foot of the stairs, which I had never been able to do before with my older two children.

And now, I am about to embark on a journey with an Auditory Verbal Therapy study. My hope is that this will further my progress. Their hope is that in the end, they can prove to OHIP (our provincial health plan) that even adults can benefit from rehab therapy, just as children do, and should be provided at no cost. Imagine how much better, faster my progress might have been had I had access to this a year ago. Or how my ex husband would have benefitted twenty years ago with his implant. I am excited about participating in this study and hope that in the end I have made a solid contribution to their project. I intend to try to chronicle my progress in this study, not just for myself, but also for them, so that they may be able to reference it in their presentation to the Ministry of Health.

Overall, my feelings are becoming much more positive and hopeful. I am still regaining confidence in myself, but I know that will come. I don’t feel Deaf anymore, as evidenced by an appointment with my daughter last week, where the Dr asked if both parents were Deaf and I answered “No”. My daughter had to correct me and it made us laugh because clearly, my “no, yes” response showed that I forget sometimes that I am Deaf, because I function so well again. That was last Friday, and I suppose that is the best sign of where I am at now.