Who I Am | Teen Ink

Who I Am MAG

October 25, 2016
By Anonymous

This is a completely true story about me. I can’t hide it anymore. I have hearing loss.

You are probably thankful for a lot of things, but what about your hearing? When you talk with friends in a loud situation, you probably think nothing of it. I can’t do that. I hear little bits of words, but not enough to understand. I’m getting a hearing aid soon, but it won’t make me “normal.” I’m hoping that at some point I’ll have yet another surgery. I want to hear everything. And I promise you I won’t take it for granted.

For you to understand my story, you need a little knowledge of how the ear works. Sound waves travel into the ear canal, which is like a long tunnel. The waves then bounce off the eardrum, which causes three little bones to vibrate. They send ripples into a tiny pool with little hairs lining the sides. When those hairs (called cholera) feel the ripples, they send electric currents to the brain. Those currents are interpreted as sound. The ear is split into three parts: the outer ear, the middle ear, and the inner ear. The ear canal and drum are the outer ear, the little bones are part of the middle ear, and the cholera are part of the inner ear.

I was born with normal hearing. Then, when I was five, I had surgery to remove my tonsils and adenoids. I also had tubes put into my ears. The tubes are eventually supposed to fall out, leaving a small hole in the eardrum that usually heals. The one in my left ear healed fine, but a hole remained in my right eardrum, causing hearing loss. When I was seven, I had surgery to fix the problem. Doctors took cartilage from my right ear and used it to patch the hole. My hearing was restored. However, six years later, a corner of the patch started to droop, resulting in hearing loss again. Once again, I had surgery to patch the hole. Once again, it failed. Now, more than a year later, I still have hearing loss.

I try to hide it. Only my teachers and friends know, and even fewer know why. After all, hearing loss is for old people who cup a hand around their ear and say, “Eh?” Hearing loss isn’t for teenage girls. But, soon everyone will know.

Some people probably have pieced it together already. I sit in the front of the class, I don’t talk much, I’m shy, and I can’t communicate easily. I can’t hear anything in loud situations, so I avoid them. I don’t go to school dances. I don’t talk at lunch. I refrain from social events. It’s lonely, but it’s how my life works. Someday, they’ll all know. They’ll learn who I really am. Will my peers accept me when they know? I’m not sure, but I’ll find out.

After all, hearing loss is who I am. It’s what shaped me. It’s what I’ve been brought up with. I’m like a phoenix emerging from the ashes of hearing loss at age seven, then burning up into ashes at age 12. When I get a hearing aid, I’ll probably struggle with who I am. Finish the next sentence for me: I am …. what? What are you? I am hard of hearing. Those five words are me; they contain a lot of pain, a lot of loneliness, and a lot of miscommunication.

Is it horrible? Yes. But it’s who I am. I am hard of hearing.

The author's comments:

This isn't made up. This is real. One in five teens now have hearing loss. Protect your hearing! Going to that loud party, or blaring music through your earbuds isn't worth a LIFETIME of missed words.

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