You don't know what you've got until it's gone. I've learned that through multiple things. When I bake cookies, I immediately miss them the second I have eaten the last one. Last summer when I left summer camp, I didn't realize how great it really was until I got home. What happens, however, when that happens to one of your senses?
My mom is deaf. There is no need to feel bad for me, or her, or her situation. She is my hero and would be whether or not she was deaf. My whole life people have asked me questions. How does she wake up in the morning without hearing an alarm clock? How does she talk on the phone? How does she drive? I've answered all of those questions easily, but I was never the one actually in the situation. I was just answering questions.
But what would happen when I actually began living it?
A few months ago I woke up deaf in one ear. I did not pay much attention to it. It felt like I had water in my ear and I assumed that was all it was. As it got later and later in the day, I began to hear less and less out of that ear. It felt more and more clogged, and I even had to ask people to talk into my other ear so I could hear them. Being a child of a deaf adult, I was skilled in reading lips and sign language, so that was helpful. The danger did not start until later in the day. I was sitting on my bed doing chemistry homework -- and then I fell off of my bed. I simply lost my balance. I was not hurt, but when trying to get up, I was incredibly dizzy.
Fast forward to a few days later, after a visit to the emergency room. I went to go see a doctor who told me that my hearing loss was common, however, it was usually bilateral, or occurs in both ears, and that my hearing should come back within a week. I was put on a heavy dose of medicine and sent home.
After about a week the dizziness eventually went away, but the hearing loss did not. The medicine helped and I gained some of my hearing back. After many hearing tests (or audiograms), MRIs and blood tests, it was determined that I should wait three months, and whatever hearing remaining in my ears at that time could be assumed to be permanent.
Here I am, a few months later, with permanent hearing loss in one ear. This hearing loss was mostly in high frequencies, or high pitches. Consonants, women's voices and group conversations became hard to hear and understand. School became harder because I couldn't hear my teachers. I could no longer tell where a sound was coming from. For example, if my cell phone was ringing, I could tell that it was ringing, but not where it was coming from.
To help this, I got a hearing aid. It converts the sounds that I can no longer hear into lower pitched sound that I can hear. With the hearing aid, my hearing is almost back to normal! It makes school and group conversations easier.
This may sound like a story asking for pity or even a diary entry, but it is not. It is, however, a story about how we all face challenges in our lives, big or small, and how we can make the best of them.
My friends, teachers, and even complete strangers ask me questions about hearing loss all the time. I never get offended because I know that this is even newer to them than it is to me. Finally, I can answer from my own perspective.
At some point, everyone will face a challenge, or many challenges, in his or her life. Whether it is hearing loss, a fear of public speaking or even the tendency to be disorganized, life throws things at all of us that no one expects. What I have learned from this particular situation is that when things are thrown at us, there is something good that can come out of everything. It has given me an opportunity to teach people about something new to them and it has taught me about the meaning of hearing. It is really not about what you can physically hear, it is about what you can take from everything that you listen to.
So, what can you take from this? Everyone faces obstacles. It may seem like the end of the world at first, but in the end, it can teach you something about yourself. You can also teach others something valuable about the world around them.
Everyone has a story, but it is what we do with our stories, what we learn from our stories and how we impact lives of others that will end up making the difference.
This story appears in Issue 38 of our weekly iPad magazine, Huffington, in the iTunes App store, available Friday, March 1.