Due to declining hearing, I found myself saying “what” several times. I began getting frustrated. My husband finally talked me into getting my hearing checked. After much thought, I figured it wouldn’t hurt. I got myself ready for maybe a hearing aid – at the most extreme point of the doc’s verdict. The day came for the appointment, and I was still telling myself it was a waste of time – I was fine. The result: not 1, but 2 hearing aids. OK, not a good surprise at the time.
As time progressed, so did my hearing loss. I went through a few sets of hearing aids, each more powerful than the next. Finally, I was told that this last pair was the strongest they make. My hearing over time would continue to decline until there was nothing. With each new lower level, I adjusted, then realize that something new was needed. Finally, I was encouraged by my family to check with a service dog. At first, I resisted. Other people needed it more than me. However, deep down, with some research on the topic, I realized that it might not be a bad thing. I just couldn’t understand other’s speech or hear certain sounds. I wasn’t giving up on life – personal or professional. So, I decided to bite the bullet and make contact, then an application to Canine Companions. And was accepted to be put on the waiting list until a service dog was available.
The call came and I went for training. It was amazing what I thought I needed vs. what I did need. I was matched with a hearing dog. I began opening up to the experience. In just that short of time, I was accepted for me and realized just how much that extra help from a furry team member was already making in my life. The only thing that made me stop and think was that now, I couldn’t hide my hearing disability from others. I had a furry team mate with a vest that told others that I needed help. I was a bit self-conscious about it. But as time and experience traveled on, I realized that he completed my life. He gave me my confidence back and helped me in ways I really wasn’t aware I needed.
He’s been with me a couple years now. I can’t believe the difference. We go everywhere together. We really are a team. It still surprises people when they learn of my disability. To look at me, you can’t tell that I have hearing issues. I have heard the statement: “You can’t be deaf – you speak.” I have dealt with stares, questions, taught people about service dogs, and even about disabilities. By not hiding, I have helped others learn. I have accepted who I am. I am still me. I can still teach, counsel, and do the things in life I have done in the past and wanted to do. The only limitation is the physical sense of hearing. Other than that, I can be productive just like everyone else. Everyone has limitations, but not all are related to a disabling condition. We all make adjustments for these limitations. We just simply move forward if we want.
They say that many things are Mind over Matter. I mind what I feel matters: living my life, not just existing through it.
(You might also want to read my blog called Alterations.)