I can’t tell you anything from memory about my diagnosis as I was just three years old. I have no recollection of my first ever hearing test or being told I had a hearing loss.
My first memory of it,is being four years old and walking into nursery with my one purple and one yellow hearing aids. What possessed little me to choose those colours is beyond me. I remember the teacher explaining to the class that I had ‘magic ears’ to help me hear and everyone wanting to try them out. I also remember constantly “loosing” them in the playground and everyone on their hands and knees searching for them. I did this regularly in hope no one would find them and I wouldn’t have to be different.
I was never singled out or treated any differently by my classmates. I still joined in games in the playground and communicated the same way everyone else did..or so I thought.
In classes, I struggled to hear my teachers even if I was sat near the front. I never picked up on why but as a result I spent primary school copying all my friends work. Honestly, I had no idea what was being said or what was going on.
I was always too embarrassed to repeatedly say “pardon” or “what?” And I wouldn’t dare tell strangers I was deaf as I’d be greeted with hundreds of questions. Including the forever stupid question of “what’s it like being deaf?” Like I don’t know,dear-what’s it like hearing?
It wasn’t until I was thirteen and in highschool,that I went for a regular hearing check up that someone finally picked up on it. An Australian temporary hearing test man thing,who had replaced my usual doctors- did all the regular hearing tests and then as he spoke to me,simply covered his mouth with his hand. I couldn’t hear a single word.
I had been lip reading my entire life. The reason I couldn’t hear in class was because teachers often faced the board as they spoke so they could write things at the same time. The only reason I could hear my friends in the playground in primary school was because they were all shouting. As I got older though,my hearing deteriorated which meant at eleven,joining highschool I could no longer hear in louder environments with loads of background noise.
This made making friends really difficult. I had this fear of being too loud and getting into trouble for shouting,so I was incredibly anxious and shy which caused me to be selectively mute. In fact,growing up I had several people ask me if I could talk.
Even though I struggled hearing my own first language,unlike every other deaf or HOH student in the school I was forced to take languages. This made my life absolute hell. The lack of understanding from not only the students but the teachers too was incredibly frustrating. My pronouncements were horrific and I became the class joke. Everyone would laugh at me whenever the teacher picked on me to repeat the sentences or whatever.
It annoys me so much to this day because a little more guidance and I would’ve been fine but it’s hard when there’s one teacher and a class of twenty pupils. Again,they did that talk and write on the board thing. If I’d been given chances to lipread the word more than once I would’ve picked up on it.
There were also these two boys in my French class,who appeared to find my hearing loss the most amusing thing ever in their sad little life’s. Still to this day one of them still goes on about it like its the funniest thing he’s ever come across-which makes me feel very sorry for him.
One of my best friends of four years,she had no idea I had a hearing loss. One day we were leaving science class and my battery died. I announced it by saying “I need a hearing aid battery” and she goes”wait what?You’re deaf??!”I spent almost every day with this girl and she didn’t have a single clue.
I come from a hearing family. I am the only person with any form of hearing loss(Apart from my Grandad who joined me recently due to old age). Due to this I never learnt sign language and communicate with speaking. Almost ironically,my Grandma learn sign language the year I was born and continued to work with deaf children until she retired about a year ago.
I think learning sign would’ve helped me out so much growing up. I missed out on so much education etc simply because I couldn’t hear.
In Jan 2011 and Jan 2012 I had operations to fit hearing implants behind both of my ears. Most people assume they’re the cochlear implants as they’re the most common but they aren’t suited to my hearing loss.
Instead I have BAHAs which stands for Bone Anchored Hearing Aid-which is as disgusting as the name indicates.
My hearing loss, is due to my ear canals being tiny. At my last check up they were described as “smaller than a pinhead”and they will just deteriorate more as I get older. Having my operations saved my hearing,as the sound travels through my BAHAs straight to my ear drum.
When I first got them switched on,it was the most magical moment of my life. The world was just filled with excitement and noise..like I blind person seeing colour for the first time,sound was my colour. I was hearing absolutely everything.
On the drive home,Adele Rolling in the deep was playing and it was the first time I could fully appreciate a song. Every instrument,every note,every single word-it was the best and I cried a lot.
I could hear cars driving past and wind,when I got home I tested absolutely everything to see what noises they made. I opened and closed doors,cupboard,played music none stop and cried when I heard the tap water running.
There were so many things I didn’t know made a sound. I shit myself the first time I heard an airplane and a firework.
My silent world became colourful.
Every little noise made me so excited but also gave me extremely bad headaches. I was advised to wear them a few hours a day until I got used to them but there was no way I was missing anymore.
The last thing I do at night is take my implants off and the first thing I do in the morning is put them on.
Even know I’m still learning and discovering new sounds. My favourite sound is when I heard Willows little whimper when she was first born. If it wasn’t for my magic ears, I never would’ve heard it.
Willow got tested a few weeks after she was born and given the all clear! Audiology will contact us when she is about four to test again, just incase,as I was around that age when I was diagnosed.
In the future, I plan on learning sign language as I know my hearing is worsening and BAHAs may not work forever. I have a 95% hearing loss at the moment so it isn’t looking great.
I also know there is a higher chance that Willow or any future babies may inherit my hearing problems and I don’t want them to struggle the way I did and want them to have access to the most helpful resources.
I think that just about covers everything! Thank you for reading this if you made it to the end!