So here’s the thing, let’s talk about something that is never talked about.. developing a disability. In our lives we talk about people who are born with disabilities and we talk about people who have obtained a disability through an accident; however, we never talk about people who have developed a disability due to an underlying condition. We don’t talk about what it’s like to slowly lose an ability you never thought you’d lose. So let’s talk about Otosclerosis.
Otosclerosis is a genetic condition that causes the inner ear bones to slowly freeze over time, meaning they can no longer amplify sound by themselves. Thus, causing the effected person to require hearing aids in their day to day lives.
Now, this doesn’t sound that bad, as long you have a hearing aid, you can hear. What’s bad is the process of losing your hearing before and after the diagnosis. Here’s my story:
When I was in highschool I had no idea that I had a “disability”, I thought my ears worked just like everyone else’s. I also thought that my left earphone was always broken. I would buy a new set of earphones about every two weeks because I thought the left one was faulty. It made no sense to me. Then one day I was sitting with my parents, complaining about the inconvience when they suggest I put the left, broken, earphone in my right ear.. It worked perfectly. That was when we decided to get my first hearing test.
That first test gave us little results, they basically said that I could benefit from hearing aids, but it was not a necessity, so obviously I passed. I didn’t want to be labeled as a weirdo with hearing aids in highschool, it wasn’t fair.
However, fast forward a few years and the word “what” becoming a staple in my vocabulary, I decided I needed to be checked again.. this time the results were different.
This test told us that my left ear was severely impaired and my right ear had mild impairment. After running a few more tests it was decided that I had Otosclerosis and would most likely be deaf by the time I was 24. So I had to make a decision. Be the college kid with hearing aids, or never hear again. As you can assume, I chose the hearing aids.
Now, it’s amazing because I can hear all of these sounds I didn’t know existed before! Did you know that a blinker makes a noise? Or that when writing with a pencil you can hear the way it scrapes on the paper? Zipping up a bookbag actually makes a sound! The TV on volume 40 is actually really loud… and so many more things I hadn’t known or had forgotten.
While there is this amazing upside to hearing aids there is also a few downfalls. When I take them out, I lose a majority of sounds. Talking on the phone is extremely difficult. If my hearing aid gets to close to something it gives an awful feedback. Also, insurance does not cover them.
According to the insurance companies hearing aids are not a need. You can live without them. My glasses are covered under insurance, but hearing aids that allow me to communicate and live a normal life are not. How is that allowed? How is it not a necessity? Without my hearing aids I don’t know where I would be. I wouldn’t have the job I have, I would not have the life I have, nothing would be the same.
So long story short, sometimes life is not fair. Sometimes you lose an ability and sometimes insurance doesn’t cover it. However, I have become not only a much stronger person, but also a more understanding person. I no longer pitty people with hearing aids and I no longer see it as weird. I am a 21 year old with hearing aids. Why should that be weird? I mean I’m also a 21 year old with glasses. It’s the exact same thing. Both just enhance the quality of life.
Back to the original statement of opening dialog and talking about what’s not talked about, I beg you, ask questions, seek answers, and never pitty. Losing an ability is hard, but overcoming the challenge is everything.