Oddly enough, I’ve come to think that losing my hearing was one of the finest things that ever happened to me, as it led to the publication of my first best-seller. But it took a moment for me to accept that I was losing my hearing and needed help.
I consider that no matter how difficult things get, you can make them much better. I have my parents to bless for that. Because of my hearing loss, they never allowed me to think that I couldn’t accomplish something. One of my mother’s favorite sayings when I expressed doubt that I could do something was, “Yes, you can.”.
When I was a senior in college, I was born with a mild hearing loss but began to lose more of my hearing. One day while sitting in my college dormitory room reading, I noticed my flatmate get up from her bed, go to the princess telephone in our room, pick it up and start talking. None of that would have seemed strange, except for one thing: I never became aware the telephone ring! I wondered why I couldn’t hear a phone that I could hear just the day before. But I was too astounded– and uncomfortable– to say anything to my roomie or to anyone else.
Late-deafened persons can always remember the events when they first stopped being able to hear the essential things in life like telephones and doorbells ringing, people talking in the next room, or the tv set. When you learned that President Kennedy had been shot or when you learned about the terror attack at the World Trade Center, it’s sort of like remembering where you were.
Unbeknown to me at the moment, that was only the inception of my downward spiral, as my hearing grew slowly but surely worse. I was still vain and young enough not to want to buy a hearing aid. I struggled through college by sitting up front in the classroom, straining to read lips and asking people to speak up, sometimes once again.
I knew that I had to buy a hearing aid. I was still vain enough to wait a few months while I let my hair grow out a bit before taking the plunge but I eventually did buy a hearing aid.
Soon, my hair length didn’t matter much, as the hearing aids got reduced and smaller. They also improved and better at picking up sound. The early aids did little more than make sounds louder evenly across the board. That doesn’t work for those of us with nerve deafness, as we may have more hearing loss in the high frequencies than in the lower ones. The newer programmable and digital hearing aids go a long way toward improving on that. They can be set to match different styles of hearing loss, so you can, say, increase a particular high frequency more than other frequencies.
Once I got my auditory aid and had the ability to hear again, I could center on other things that were important to me– like my education, my career and writing that first novel! I didn’t realize it then, but that first electronic hearing aid actually freed me to go on to bigger and better things.
I had long dreamed of writing a novel, but like others kept putting it off. As I began to lose increasingly more of my hearing, it was a chore just to keep up at work, let alone doing much else. Then once I got the electronic hearing aid, I no longer had to worry about a lot of the things I did before, and I began to think that writing a novel would be the perfect hobby for me. Anyone can write irrespective of whether they can hear. I was also determined to show that losing my hearing would not hold me back.
My first novel was published in 1994 and my fifth in the summer of 2005. I honestly believe that I would never have sat down at the computer and banged out that first novel if I hadn’t lost so much of my hearing. That’s why I sometimes think that losing my hearing was one of the best things that ever happened to me.