Tag Archives: late deaf adults

Suffering an unsound situation

A little piece of electronics fell a distance that was just over five feet.  60 inches of travel, making contact with a wooden floor. It wasn’t a heard action. It wasn’t an outright noticed incident either. It had fallen from behind the ear of this author as he sat on the edge of his bed and made preparations for use of the device itself.

And the only action derived from noticing the fall and reclaiming the object has been silence.

I went stone deaf in 1997 after a necessary operation to reduce/remove an acoustic neuroma; an inter-cranial benign tumor from my head. That tumor had already played a part in me losing hearing in both my ears during the previous four years. The surgery, for the sake of having a life, had to happen though.  When the operation occurred in December ’97, I was also implanted with what is known as the Auditory Brainstem Implant, a variation of the Cochlear Implant – a device that brings the hearing world to those who are implanted with it and who use an external sound processor to enable it. For a deaf person to adopt this technology is a chore – to learn a new dimension of life. For a late-deaf adult? It’s a miraculous resumption of a realm of living.

I’m living in silence right now and I’m in hell.

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Ten years gone; the life and times of a late-deaf adult

1997.

As I said in October, I had graduated from High School that year, forgotten in a huge senior class at East Lake High. There was one quality I had, though, that stuck out which people may remember me by — my hearing was shit.

After graduating in June of that year – with about 25 percent or less of my original hearing, I basically did nothing. I was reached out to by no one and didn’t attempt it much myself because I was the wall-flower… I couldn’t hold a conversation with thanks to not being able to understand what people were saying (even with the help of a hearing aid). And at age 18? Who’s going to put up with that?

I sank into depression and my health deteriorated. This hearing situation had already led to my decision not to attend Flagler College in St. Augustine (where I had been accepted the previous spring) and now I was isolated and alone in a world I couldn’t take part in. My balance became somewhat less dependable than tuning into MTV and seeing a music video playing. I wobbled and swayed all over the place and depended on leaning where and when I could, onto stable and solid things… Anything to keep me upright.


that’s little ole’ me, circa November 1997

It was sometime in October of that year that I had an MRI performed on my head, and in a matter of days had a doctor tell me flat out that I could go to bed one night and not wake up the next morning. A 7 centimeter tumor effecting blood flow and cramping the brain will do that to you. Acoustic Neuroma is the scientific term to describe this, but the truth is it was the end of one life and the beginning of another…

It’s been ten years – not by choice, not by design, but by inevitability – that I’ve been deaf. Ten years since the natural hearing world escaped me and I was plunged into a more difficult version of society where one attempts to fit in while feeling like an outcast. Sure, I use a variation of the cochlear implant now (and have been for six years) and am doing quite well with it but I still haven’t turned a corner to make conversation easy to understand and take part in with strangers. I miss that the most…

It also doesn’t begin to describe the immediate aftermath aftermath — being trapped between worlds:  A deaf person in a hearing world, a hearing person in a deaf world where those around me refuse to adjust and demand my adjustment to them. Or being thrust into the paranoia filled bigotry of the deaf community where the hearing (or late deaf) were not welcome unless their commitment to the deaf life was total and utter.

Of course the flip side of this is that it got me involved on the Internet, which led to a job, which led to my web design talents, which led to a certain legal threat and a lot of pluses and minuses along the way.

10 years gone, and I’m still standing.

10 years gone, I’m still left wanting.

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