Monthly Archives: February 2009

A good feeling

ellowToday, I was shopping at Best Buy,  I was talking with a sales girl about purchasing a Flip camera, and I was asking her all kind of questions.  Finally, she asked me a question, “what do you speak about?” She was gesturing toward my ears.  Well, that opened the door for me and Iproceeded to share with her my cochlear implant story, my speaking engagements, and we also conversed about deaf culture and overcoming adversities.  Ashley (sales associate) was actively listening to me as I shared and shared.   At the close of the conversation, I told her I was glad I shared with her and in turn, she learned something new today— she learned about cochlear implants.  Finally, she admitted to me, she didn’t know how to approach me with the cochlear implants.  As we all know, many people react in so many different ways when approached with their disabilites.  I have to admit, there were many times in my life, when I wanted to inquire to others about their physical disablities, but I hesitated and I didn’t, because I did not know how they would respond to my question.  I have no intention of offending anyone, I just want to learn more; however, I do realize everyone is different and the last thing I want to do is upset anyone.

Therefore, I was glad Ashley asked me, I am assuming we had a friendly rapport, thus the conversation flowed.  It was a big moment in my life, why, you may ask, as you all know I am still a newbie about sharing and being open with my hearing loss.  I was like most people who are hard of hearing,  I was in denial most of my life, I didn’t want to appear different in front of others, so I often hid my hearing aids and cochlear implants behind my hair.  Yes, I shared my story growing up and as an adult when I felt comfortable with the person and the situation. 

The big difference is this was the first time ever in my life, I had this conversation with a complete stranger and you know what, I felt really good about it.  I realized it was advocacy on a small scale;  However small, I felt like I did something really big.

As I mentioned earlier, I hid my hearing aids and CI’s behind my hair.  I prefer to wear my hair short and finally last week I got brave and got a short haircut.  It was not the shortness that was being brave, it was my ears showing!!!  Big moment for me.  Yes, my haircut partly covers my CI’s, but it is alot more pronounced than ever.  I was scared and a little self-conscious at first of my ears showing, however, I ventured to work and out in public and people still treated me the same.  Actually, not the same after today, I realized now I may be conversing with more strangers about hearing loss and you know what, I am perfectly okay with it now.  It is a small step in increasing awareness.

In addition, I work for Academy Sports and Outdoors as an Assistant Store Manager, and now I proudly wear my Cochlear lanyard around my neck with my Academy name badge and I had my first conversation with an Academy customer wearing a cochlear implant because he noticed my CI’s with my new short hair.  It was a very unusual feeling.  Wow, twice in one week, with complete strangers. 

As Ashley, quickly said, toward the end of our conversation, “you are more comfortable with your CI’s and sharing, thus, now you don’t mind having your ears show more.”  I couldn’t agree more and that just about sums it up.

“Share, you are only doing the world good!”

As Always, Have a sunny day.  Susanna

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Housing and Employment Resource Expo for People with Disabities

face_photo_croppedOn February 11, 2009 I was off from work, so I volunteered at the Houston Housing and Employment Resource Expo for people with disabilities  www.houstonhereexpo.org held at the George R Brown Convention.  I was at the Houston Hearing Loss Association booth.

This expo was hosted by the City of Houston and fully supported by Houston’s Mayor Bill White.

It was a big step for me to attend and help at this event. Why? Well, I knew it would be attended by disabled people.  I had never really been around many disabled people at one time.  To help you understand, most people with hearing loss are in denial most of their lives, because they do not desire to appear “different” to others.   I admit, I was in denial most of my life with my hearing loss.  I just recently came out of denial this past summer and started to share my story with others.  I am getting better at sharing and being open about my hearing loss; however, it is still a work in progress.

I finally got over my apprehension, and finally went inside and sure enough, I was surrounded by all kinds of “challenged people.”  I went to the HLA booth and got busy immediately giving out information and providing awareness of Houston HLA. I worked the booth with other members of Houston HLA.  I love to talk to people and meet people.  Thus, my discomfort went away, as I started chatting away with others.  It was great to meet all kinds of people.  I began to realize they are just like everyone else, with real needs for employment and housing.  It is a little harder or maybe even a lot harder for them to obtain housing and employment.  I was able to have empathy for their needs because I have been down that road before, especially the challenges with employment.   There is much to share about my personal challenges with employment as a hard of hearing person, thus it will be a future blog entry.   I do remember “wondering if I was ever going to be able to get a good job.  ”

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On the other hand, I walked away with a deep appreciation and gratitude, that I was blessed with my life, and that I have many wonderful qualities to share with others, in spite of my hearing loss.  I realized that there are many people who have physical and mental challenges that are much more severe than mine.  Therefore, it helped me to put my hearing loss in perspective.

In addition, I walked away from this event, having tremendous respect for these other people and I admired their courage and determination to prevail against all odds.  After all, deep down they are not any different from anybody else, they have the same basic needs as the rest of us: such as a warm home, a place to work to pay the bills, and to surround themselves with loving friends and family.

Next time, you see a “challenged person,” please show them respect and kindness and be grateful for the positive things in your life!

As Always, Have a Sunny Day! Susanna

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Cochlear Americas

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 Hello Everyone!  It sure is good to be back.  Last night, I went to an enjoyable, informative event about Cochlear Implants at Memorial Herman Hospital Southwest.  The presentation was put on by Cochlear Americas (They are one of several companies that make cochlear implants).   Paula Moore who is the Houston Area Cochlear Network Manager,  presented the workshop with two other Cochlear Audiologists, titled “Connect with your Community. ”

       The event was standing room only! They had an exceptional turn out!  It was only supposed to be about 40 people, I bet they almost doubled it.  Light refreshments was served and you were welcomed with a smile from the Cochlear staff.

Once everyone was settled in, Paula , who is a bilateral cochlear implant wearer, welcomed everyone and she shared her hearing loss/cochlear implant story.  She gave pertinent information for those that were considering cochlear implants.  Next, Paula shared “the support system” at Cochlear whether it’s insurance, rehabilitation, networking, etc.  Then, Paula introduced the “professionals,” the staff at HERF -Houston Ear Research Foundation and the Cochlear Audiologists.  Dr. Walter McReynolds of HERF, a local respected Cochlear Implant Surgeon remarked,  “he was glad to see his “Cochlear Family” and was thrilled to hear the success stories of how CI’s changed their lives.”   Jan-the director at HERF,  gave some enlightening statistics about the growing trend of adults and children receiving CI’s.  Jan noted it was interesting,  “How more adults in Houston receive implants versus the children, whereas nationwide more children are implanted than adults. ”   I thought it was an interesting point, I am glad many parents are doing everthing possible for their child to be a part of the hearing world.  On the other hand, it concerns me that more adults are not receptive or considerated of the cochlear implant.  Does that mean we need to educate more adults on all the possible advantages of receiving a CI??  I truly believe many adults do not want to change, or they are believing in old outdated information, such as hearing loss can not be corrected, the stigma attached to hearing loss, etc.  Thus, this is were the advocacy comes in!  We must change all this!!!! today!!!!! 

In addition, MaryLynn McDonald a HERF Audiologist was there too.  She may not be the surgeon; however, she has the best and most important job, she helps all of us CI wearers to hear again, by programming and mapping our CI’s.  She is very patient with us, because I will be the first to tell you that this is not an easy process, but if you are willing and motivated, she will help you hear again with your CI’s.

Then, Paula introduced Assisted Listening Devices.  She shared all the wonderful gadgets that Cochlear introduced to help us listen in a variety of different setting.  Next, Paula introduced Teri Wathen of CAAG who presented non- Cochlear ALD’s, yet they are compatible with CI’s.  You can find out more about ALD’s in one of my earlier blog posts.

Finally, she let people from the audience ask questions.  There were a wide variety of questions that were answered.   Furthermore, several CI wearers in the audience helped answer questions.  This was important because CI users like learning from other CI receipients and it was good for people who are considering CI’s.  Why, because most of the responses were all positive in relation to their CI experience.

I was glad I went, I picked up some great pamplets to utilize for myself and to share with others.  It also gave me a chance to meet other CI recipients. I was also able to “thank” Dr. McReynolds, who did my surgeries and who I had not seen in more than 2 years.  The last time I saw DR. R was the day he operated on me for my 2nd implant, Dec. 26, 2007.  I told him ” the cochlear implants” changed my life for the better.   It was also nice to visit with the staff at HERF and Cochlear Americas.  In addition, several member of the Houston HLAA chapter was there, too! 

All in All, it was a great time! and most importantly, I want to thank the staff at HERF and Cochlear Americas for changing my life in the most awesome way!    Thus, I will be looking forward to the Cochlear Celebration in March in California at Disneyland! WhooHoo! Here I come!  —Look for a future blog about the Cochlear Celebration.

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