Wednesday, August 16, 2006

My Hearing History

Two people commented on my last post that they wanted to know more about how I lost my hearing and what got me to this point. I think I have covered it somewhat before on this blog but will try to give a synopsis of it.

I lost my hearing when I was 5 years old and caught the mumps from my brother. At the time, about one in every 200 cases of the mumps causes an infection in the inner ear. I was one of those lucky cases. I developed virus like symptoms and my Mom called the Doctor. He felt that it was just a virus and not related to the mumps so he did not have her bring me in. About two or three months later, my parents noticed that if I was not looking at them I could not hear them. Children adapt and I had learned to lipread.

My parents took me to the Speech and Hearing Center in Houston (about a 2 hour drive) every day for two weeks. My Dad would work the graveyard shift, get up and drive us to Houston, we would spend most of the day at the center. They were testing my hearing, fitting me with a hearing aid and counseling my parents regarding my hearing loss. Then they would drive us home and Daddy would go to work that night, only to do it all over the next day.

My hearing loss was such that the hair like nerves that line the cochlea looked like someone had taken a lawn mower and mowed out patches. The doctors recommended that they place me in the School for the Deaf in Austin. My parents refused. I was fitted with a hearing aid in one ear, the other was considered un-aid able because there was no speech recognition. I could (and still can) hear sound in my right ear but can't understand words.

So my parents sent me to a private Kindergarten (they had already planned to do this, as my brother had attended this school 5 years earlier) I did well in kindergarten and even skipped the 1st grade completely. I was mainstreamed into public school. I took some speech classes because of problems with the S and SH sounds, but I speak remarkably well for someone with such a profound hearing loss. I sound like I have an accent but I do not sound hollow like profoundly deaf people often do. I was a very verbal child and that helped me retain my speech.

School was hard for me, I was teased a lot for the hearing loss and because of my weight, some of which I am sure is genetic but a good portion I am sure was a coping mechanism too. I passed everything in school but only excelled in the subjects that I was really interested in. Everything changed during my Jr. year in high school.

The Aggies For Christ came to our church that Fall. I loved everything about it and decided come $#&& or high water I was going to A&M. Everyone told me it could not be done. My grades were not good enough, I would not score high enough on the SAT, my Dad even tried to bribe me into going to a local college (with a car and a phone in my room) but I was determined. In the end I was accepted into A&M University.

I did not recieve any special help while I was at A&M. I went to class just like everyone else, I tried to sit in the front so I could understand better and I made sure my professors knew that I might have to ask more questions than most students. It took me a little longer than most to graduate (I changed my major a few times and took a year or so off right in the middle)

While I was at A&M I became interested in learning Sign Language. I had never learned to sign before, but the A&M Church of Christ was developing a deaf ministry and offered classes. My husband and I both took classes while we were there.

We have been involved in deaf ministry ever since, with the Clear Lake Church of Christ in Houston and then later (after a job transfer) with the Fairfax Church of Christ in Fairfax, VA. I know sign language well now but have never relied on it for my sole communication.

Last Fall, I was at church and my hearing aid quit working(or so I thought). The next day I became really sick, virus type symptoms again. After many doctor appt with specialists, they still do not know what happened or why. But the end result was that my "good" ear(the one I wore the hearing aid in and could understand speech with) was gone.

The doctor told me that my only hope for hearing was with a cochlear implant. I had always resisted an implant because they often destroy what is left of your hearing when they put in the implant and I never wanted to give up what I had for fear it might not work. I had the surgery done on Dec. 29th and it was turned on in Jan.

You can go back in my blog and pick up the story there if you want to. The progress with the CI has been really slow but seems to be picking up recently. Maybe my brain has finally clicked on and is understanding the signals a little better. Hope this is what you wanted to know, feel free to ask questions. I might even answer them for you! :)


aggiejenn said...

Thanks for answering! What an incredible story. You are one determined lady!! :-)

jettybetty said...

I have read your blog for a long time--but I still appreciate you bringing everything together! What a story you have!

AFC is such an incredible blessing! I sitll have have sweet, Christian people ask me why we didn't make Aggie-ed go to a "Christian" college. I try to be patient, but they obviously don't know about AFC!!!

Thanks again for this quick story of your life--now I love you even more!!!

aggiejenn said...

In reply to your comment, yes I knew the Allens VERY well while I was in Thailand. Michelle was my mentor. :-)

Tanya said...

That explains how you know my in laws :)

I'm a preschool teacher. Last year, I had a preschooler with a cochlear implant. I was totally amazed at how the whole process worked - WOW! During circle time, my co-teachers and I had to use either a "hand held" microphone or a "head set" microphone so she could hear us more clearly. We had speakers set up all around our circle rug area. It was really neat!

Thanks for sharing your story with me!

Dee O'Neil Andrews said...

Thanks so much for your "story" -

I didn't know you'd lived in Fairfax! Years ago we lived in Falls Church and were there when the Fairfax congregation first began with some good friends of ours! How neat!

Also - one of our ministers and his wife had a daughter the age of my older son who had profound hearing loss. It was because while my dearest friends were living in England, she became pregnant and had German measles.

She could have "legally" had an abortion there in England, but refused to do so, so their older daughter (they had 2) was born with a profound hearing loss.

That reminds me that I need very badly to write to them to see how they are doing these days. It's been way too long.

As for m friends who helped start the Fairfax church, one couple is not in Texas (Austin, I think) and another in Memphis for a number of years ministering to those less fortunate.

I so hope the cochlear implant will prove successful for you. Tom has (for some unknown reason, really) a severe hearing loss now in his left ear, but got a digital hearing aid last August about a week before Katrina. He has done well with it and it helps him a lot.

Both of us suffer from some hearing loss, though, just from "old age," I guess and too many years (in his case) in front of the heavy duty speakers at Jazz Fest in New Orleans (and other venues).

In my case, I guess I have to blame my hearing loss (in my left ear, too) to too much loud, flamboyant preaching, what do you think?! ha!

Wishing you the very best!

Cheers! Dee

P. S. BTW - check out Tammany Oaks website, at Tammany Oaks, for Becky's interview I just got set up and published a couple of days ago! It's there, along with David's, under "Leadership Interviews."

Brett and Jenny Perkins said...

Wow MAK -

What a story! It's amazing and inspirational how the mix of your determination and current technology has come together.