Can You Hear Me Now?
“Happy Birthday!” Screams of campers wishing me well pierced the woods. Yet, somehow, they failed to reach my ears. “Kayla. They’re talking to you,” a friend would gently tell me. “Oh! What’d they say?” By the time their greetings had been relayed to me though, it was too late, and my thanks were met instead with a cold smile, or an even colder shoulder. “She’s so stuck up.” Ouch. I heard that one.
What those I don’t know well don’t know is that I don’t hear well. My hearing is not completely lost, but there is a dramatic difference in what I hear, compared to what most others can hear. It wasn’t until I was in high school that I learned monthly trips to the ear doctor were not something everyone did. Simple things, such as alarm clocks, and bird chirps escape me. I’ve learned how to compensate with reading lips, but when I don’t realize someone is talking to me, I can’t pay attention.
So, why won’t I get a hearing aid? Or, more importantly, how has not getting one made me stronger? Firstly, I won’t get a hearing aid for the sole fact that they bother me. Every six months I’m stuck in a booth so small that it makes my heart race with headphones on my ears and a doctor, frowning, while she looks in on me. “Raise your hand when you hear the beep.” After the first few beeps, my face becomes twisted in frustration because I just don’t hear it. But a few years ago, she took me out of the booth, and told me she’d like me to look at hearing aids. I burst into tears. The same happened, of course, when my mom happily informed me she had scheduled an appointment for a fitting. Needless to say, that appointment didn’t end in much more than an angry Kayla, and an even angrier Mom. But, on the flip side, losing my hearing has shown me a few things. When I was put into French class, I panicked. “How will I understand French if I can hardly understand some words in English?” I asked myself. I decided right then and there that I would suck up my fear of embarrassment and tell the teacher my predicament. Of course when I told her, the world didn’t spin off its axis, nor did every one come running into the room to point and laugh. She was very understanding, and made sure to help with anything she could. By deciding to tell, I helped myself instead of hurting myself. Another thing I learned is that I can be anything or anyone I want to be, no matter how well I hear. Unless I wanted to be an astronaut (which I never desired to become) my dreams are still possible with my hearing loss.
The most important thing I learned is that I’m no weaker than anyone else. Figuring out ways to hear, and overcoming obstacles that I face day to day has challenged me, and made me realize my full capacity. Writing has been something that I’ve been able to turn to, no matter what the day was like. I can turn my sadness into a comedy, or face life through a poem, dripping with truths. I know that at the end of the day I will still be me, even if I missed a few words in the conversation. But no matter what I hear, and what I don’t, I’m still a strong, capable, and hard-working person. Really, that’s all that matters.