So I have been asked, why, if you are happy being deaf and happy being Deaf, why in the world have you decided to get a cochlear implant? The question is simple, the answer not so much.
I have never had normal hearing, so I’m not sure what it means to hear normally, but I have always heard some things, at least with my hearing aids. I could hear music (not the complexities people describe, but I could hear it, and i could enjoy it. I could hear dogs barking, children crying, the joyful sound of laughter children make when they just can’t contain themselves, my partner telling me she loves me. my mom singing me to sleep… but now all of that is gone.
this is what I want to get back. I want to be able to hear music, and enjoy it. I love the feel of music, but I can’t distinguish what song is what, if it is a good song, or a bad song, if it is sung by someone good, only… only that there is a lot of base, or not enough.
I can see (and I am so thankful that I can) when my partner signs I love you, and I can see it in her eyes, feel it in her touch, but sometimes, I miss hearing it in her voice. I also miss the ups and down that go along with hearing peoples words, even if you can’t understand those words. being able to hear inflection, is a huge part of coming to understand what someone is saying, the message behind the meaning. I can read body language, but that doesn’t always tell you everything you want to know, that doesn’t always tell you the depth of their words (not to mention, lipreading, something I have to do almost all day is so exhausting).
My mom, she is trying, she is trying so hard to be able to communicate with me on my level, in my language (and ASL will forever be MY language), but it is coming along slow. When I call her I use either VCO (Voice Carry Over Service) or captions. Both have their ups, both have their downs. With VCO, the information comes much faster and much clearer, but captions work when I have a cruddy internet connection, and I can save the conversation. But there are times when I get horrible interpreters, or horrible captioners, and the message doesn’t come clear. There are some interpreters who do a wonderful job with showing the tone of someones voice, then there are others… who although they get the signs and the grammar right, show no emotion while doing so, leaving out a crucial part of the message, leaving me to guess. With captioning, there is NO way to understand a persons tone, no way to know if they are angry, or sad, or excited, only the words. When I get my CI, I know I will still use these services, and be so happy (still) that I have them… but then, I will, maybe, just maybe, be able to hear the inflection, hear the hidden message behind their words, even if I am never able to understand the words themselves.
also, I know, that with or without hearing anything, I will be a wonderful parent (when that day comes), but one thing that scares me, with
not hearing a single sound my level of hearing what happens if my child gets hurt, and I don’t see it, what happens if someone breaks into my home, and I don’t hear it, what happens if there is a splash of water (never really heard before) and I don’t hear it, I don’t see it, and I loose my child? My children will sign, that is non-negotiable, but I also want to help them (if they are hearing) learn to talk, go to their school concerts, and be able to say, oh sweetie, yes, I heard that, it was wonderful.
Another huge reason I am choosing to get implanted, which is just over a month away, is because of my Job. I fix computers, yes, but I would like to be able to understand all of my clients, or hear when the phone is ringing, or be able to not always be 6-10 seconds behind while on the phone as I am now. Yes I am thankful for my sometimes accurate phone, it would be nice not to have people wondering why I am so far behind on the phone.
there are times, though I know it would be illegal, that I am scared for the safety of my job, because of my
hearing loss deafness. I am scared, that every miscommunication will be blamed on the fact that I can’t hear, that I can’t understand 100%, or sometimes even 50% of what people are saying (with lipreading), but that I will be told I need to find somewhere else to work because of it. because I am profoundly deaf, and that I will be stuck working minimum wage at a fast food place, sweeping the floor or doing the dishes… because people think thats a deaf persons place that is all I am capable of doing.
These aren’t the only reasons, but they are some of the major ones… and music, oh how I miss music.
I hope this helps people understand why I am choosing this path, why I am having my head drilled into for the possibility to hear… something, and maybe, maybe it will help people who are thinking about it for THEMSELVES to decide if it is something they WANT.
But I can not stress enough, adult, born deaf, late deaf, child (especially children) the importance of having a FULLY accessible language, through sign language. This will NEVER leave me, nor will my
friends family in the Deaf community, there I feel normal, loved, never a burdon, and that is what every deaf, Deaf and hard of hearing person needs.