Holler if You Hear Me: Facing the Stigma of My Invisible Disability

I have poor eyesight, poor hearing, weak joints, I’m short, and I’m still sicker than your average. In a good way.

I have never shared this online before this week–mostly because I never saw a need to–but I live with permanent hearing loss.

Doctors diagnosed me with hearing loss when I was about 9 years old. I may have said “huh?” too many times for my mother’s liking, and she took me to the doctor to get it checked. I remember sitting in a booth shaped like a tall, narrow box. The audiologist sat me on a black leather stool. He asked me to slip on a pair of headphones that were attached to the wall of the booth by a springy cord.  The headphones were like comfy earmuffs, enveloping my ears so I could hear nothing.

The technician would play a sound from outside the booth and I had to raise my hand when I heard it. The world was quiet for a long, long time. Then, a low beep sounded, as if from the end of a long tunnel, finally audible. I waved my hand and smiled, relief washing over me. I wasn’t totally lost.

But I would lose more of my hearing over the years until it became glaringly apparent in every aspect of my life. I play my music loud enough to read bass vibrations as Braille beneath my fingertips. When my husband and I moved in together, he brought to my attention that I would reflexively ask, “What did you say?” after nearly every sentence. I did this because I expected not to hear.

Read more at Truly Tafakari!

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