Losing and Regaining the Gift of Hearing
By Jennifer B.
Like most people, I was blissfully unaware of a condition called "Sudden Sensorineural Hearing Loss" that, for reasons usually unknown by medical professionals, can render anyone with normal hearing permanently deaf in one or both ears within a matter of seconds.
I suddenly lost 100% hearing in one ear and about 50% in the other ear overnight. Even hospital staff shrugged this off as probably a "clogged ear" and advised me to just follow up with my ENT later. Neither I, nor to my shock the hospital staff, knew that this was a medical emergency that they should have addressed immediately. By the time I understood what was happening to me, it was too late for any treatment to be effective. My deafness was due to Sudden Sensorineural Hearing Loss, and because it was not treated in time, my sudden deafness was permanent.
As a public school teacher, it was devastating trying to explain to my principal that I was suddenly nearly deaf. I could barely understand my students, I missed important information given at faculty meetings, and I nearly lost my job as I struggled to hear.
I quickly got a hearing aid for the partially hearing ear, then it took a year to finally get approval and scheduling for cochlear implant (CI) surgery for the deaf ear. For most of us, getting a CI is a similarly long process but one very well worth the efforts.
Five years later, I still rely mostly on my partially hearing ear for speech comprehension, but this could still be improved, even now, with specific CI practices. My CI is a complete game changer that has blessed me with fuller sound, directionally (which can only occur with TWO hearing ears), and a general ability to communicate and function in society without the devastating isolation of suddenly being a deaf person in a hearing world. Words cannot describe the gratitude I feel for receiving, once again, the precious gift of hearing.
Sharing our stories gives such hope to those who live in a world of silence and isolation, especially those who are unaware of the possibilities available through the technology available for us today – technology that grants us, once again, the miracle of hearing.