It wasn't a great week for me, as I was told I am NOT moderate-severe, but instead severe and slightly profound. Mainly severe though. I must admit, it did make me feel sick in the stomach! This was not a medical professional who told me, but instead someone who was experienced in this area as she is deaf herself. It was not something that I wanted to hear, but I maintained a brave face and tried to ignore that painful lump in my throat. I kept thinking to myself, "Louise, MAN UP! You are 20 years old, you are not a child anymore!". It wasn't until the subject swiftly moved on to cochlea implants. My Mum knows how I feel about these... (uncomfortable!). I do appreciate how technology has developed over time, but for a person of my age who wants to 'fit in' with the younger generation, it was difficult to feel comfortable with this topic, especially when I felt pressured by the lady to consider an assessment for a cochlea implant.
As you can imagine, I shifted in my seat, also trying to maintain my composure. After a difficult 40 minutes on that topic, she left and I soon ran upstairs and locked myself in the bathroom for a good hour feeling incredibly numb!
I am still (after 13 years) trying to come to terms with my hearing loss, but I am pleased to say that I am SLOWLY learning to deal with it. I still have a long way to go, but I know one day I will gain confidence as I age. Each day, each year I learn new strategies to deal with my hearing loss and I find ways around things which makes me feel less anxious in certain situations.
Anyway, a couple of days after the meeting with this lady, I admit, I did not feel myself. I felt incredibly low. How could I not know I was severely hearing impaired all this time?! Bearing in mind she was looking at an audiogram that was dated back to 2013. It made me feel sick, but I kept trying to think to myself, I have come so far (passed my GCSE's and A Level exams etc.) and I was not aware that I was severely hearing impaired. After a week I felt almost back to my normal self. It was hard to process the information...I felt so numb afterwards. It felt like I had lost someone/something and was grieving. I found myself crying and feeling emotional at some points. Now I feel almost back to my normal self, I have my moments when I feel really depressed, but I tell myself, I have to keep going!
One thing that really 'got me down' last week was when we did an exhibition as part of our University assignment. Each student had to create a lesson plan for an activity that promotes learning in an area of the National Curriculum. Long story short, we had to present these activities to people who came by to look at our individual exhibition stands. One 3rd year student looked at my stand and asked me a question, as usual I answered her question until she turned away, I did not catch what she was saying (especially as there were lots of us in that area talking, so it was quite noisy!) My note taker who was nearby at the time dropped in to say that I was 'deaf' and the girl pretty much bolted off! She just tensed up and just walked off. Now, I must say, that did upset me a bit.
Firstly I thought "it is her problem not mine", but at the same time I felt embarrassed. Now I just feel angry and upset thinking about it. I am happy that my note taker pitched in, otherwise it would have been very awkward! But it just annoyed me how the girl reacted so immaturely. A mature person perhaps would have been more understanding and apologetic. I guess you can just put it down to 'ignorance' because of the lack of awareness. It motivates me to keep telling people and perhaps maybe next time I could be a bit more relaxed about it? (Easier said than done!)
It certainly was a learning curve for me! I need to 'man up' and not worry about ignorant people like that! There are SOME lovely people out there who are kind, patient and understanding. It just takes time to find them lovely people! I am lucky to have a few who are like that in my life. It certainly makes me cherish them more! I love them all to pieces!
On another note, I had a support review meeting at Uni last
week (reviewing my support pretty much!) I addressed a couple of issues that I was having: no subtitles in video clips, my need for transcripts, difficulties lip reading the lecturers because they will not stand still etc.) I feel confident that they listened to my problems for the 3rd time round and hope that they will bear these in mind in future. I feel that things are beginning to improve (but I will not speak too soon!). For example, they have given me a contact number for the text phone absence line so I can do something myself (basically meaning I can text them when I am absent, rather than relying on my Mum to call the University for me!) - I will update you all how this goes on my Twitter page which I try and tweet on a daily basis (Goldy Deaf Awareness).
When referring back to the conversation about the cochlea implants and my level of hearing, I just want to clarify, I am not 'dissing' cochlea implants at all. Like I said, I really do appreciate how much technology has developed over the years. People have differing views on cochlea implants, some choose to have them and others perhaps may not. I appreciate if you could respect my views as they are just how I feel personally as a young person about them. I really love my hearing aids and I have slowly developed in confidence up to the point when I don't mind showing them in public.
Without my hearing aids I would.... well, be deaf! I would not swap my hearing aids for the world! Well, unless there is a miraculous cure that would mean I can regain my hearing towards normal hearing! That would be amazing! - Haha! But I just wanted to clarify to any cochlea implant users out there, I really am not 'dissing' them! Like I said, people view things differently! Who knows? Perhaps one day when I am older I might decide to have one? But not today!
I'm determined to live my life to the fullest! I feel that this has given me a different perspective on life. A very wise person who I spoke to at the time told me that I need to focus on what I have. I must admit this is very true and certainly made me feel more positive! There certainly are some inspiring people out there, deaf and hearing people. One person who particularly inspired me to be proud of myself is a young lady called Molly Watt who is round about my age! She is severely deaf herself but also severely blind (a condition called Usher Syndrome) and I honestly think she is an inspirational person. I am sure life for her is a lot more challenging due to her sight loss, meaning lip reading is incredibly difficult! It made me look at my life in a different way. From what I see in her articles, blog pages etc. she copes brilliantly which I think is amazing! She really is truly inspirational! I wish her the best in life!