2 years ago I found out I was losing my hearing.
I was 30 years old at the time, and my wonderful doctor looked at me and said I was losing my hearing and I needed hearing aids (HA). My initial response was, "Oh no I do not!" I didn't even give myself a chance to realize times have changed and so has technology. I just pictured these big clunky hearing aids my biological mother used to wear when I was a child. I didn't even give myself a chance to actually process what my doctor was telling me when he said I was losing my hearing, I just heard I needed to wear hearing aids. It didn't really hit me until I got to my car and knew I had to call my parents and tell them that my life was changing and really so was theirs. I wasn't sure just how much yet and that was what was the most scariest part. That's where my hearing journey began.
When you're growing up you don't think to yourself, "Oh one day I am going to start losing my hearing". For some people it just kind of happens. For me, one day I started having ringing in both my ears and thought it would just go away. Fast forward 5-6 months later, I still had ringing in both my ears and I started noticing I needed to turn up the volume more and more on the TV. Finally, I made an appointment with my ENT to get a hearing test done. And thankfully I did! At this point I had probably put off seeing my doctor for about 9 months, and that was 9 precious months that we could've been testing and finding out what was really going on with my ears.
Fast forward about a year, and my doctors have done as much as they can for me, except genetic testing. Which I will have to do with another set of doctors at the University of Pennsylvania. The next step for me is starting to learn ASL, American Sign Language, for my future. My family and close friends will also be joining me along my new journey. I'm not sure exactly what this future holds, but I know it will be exciting (once I get over the first scary hurdles). I've lost quiet a lot of decibels of hearing in a short amount of time, and there's no way of telling how quickly or when it will go. It's scary to not have answers when you need them so badly, but sometimes that's the dice we roll and we have to roll with it.
Now gradually I continue to lose my hearing, and every day is a matter of putting one foot in front of the other. I still have yet to get my genetic testing done, but that is because of my own fears holding me back at the moment. I plan to get them done soon, so I can hopefully have my answers soon. As I move forward in my hearing journey, I am meeting new people who share in my same journey and are helping me day by day. It's helpful to know there are so many other people out there who can help validate the feelings I'm having and can help with these next steps I'm facing. They've all been where I am right now at one point or another. I also have a beautiful support group surrounding me all the time. Any time I feel like I am falling, one of them is always there to pick me up and remind me that I got this! Whether it's making sure people around me know I need them in front of me speaking so I can see their lips, or that I can't hear them if they're in another room; they are always there for me having my back!
I am looking forward to this Walk4Hearing and raising money for awareness for 2 reasons. I hope that I can at least help 1 person or more realize how important it is to get their hearing checked whenever they feel there may be an issue...or not. Having your hearing checked is just as important as a physical. If you notice even a slight difference in your hearing, you should seek out a doctor as soon as possible. It's better to be safe than put it off for months like I did and waste away time that's important in the long run. I'm also looking forward to this walk because if the money I raise can help 1 person and touch their lives then that means I was able to make their lives easier for at least a moment. A diagnosis like this leaves you wondering "What do I do next, what can I do to fix this or make it better?" And once you find out how much hearing aids cost and sign language class is, you feel at a loss.....at least that's how I felt. I wasn't sure how I could do these things without insurance and help from the people in my life. I just want to make a difference in one person's life. Let them know they aren't alone and we're all here to support them.