Monthly Archives: June 2011

People Can Be Something Else

User:ProtoplasmaKid explaining Wikipedia and W...

Good Morning Guys,

I hope everybody is having a good day! I’m committed to working 12 hours today, but I’m trying to stay positive.

People really can amaze me sometimes, for both the positive and the negative: positively, I got to work with amazing children this week who have overcome boundaries set on them from birth. These children are truly inspirational to me and everybody who knows their story. Most of these children were born completely and profoundly deaf, and now they are communicating with the world just as easily as the rest of the children their age would. Watching kids fight like that to learn a language that they can’t even hear is amazing and makes them my heroes.

Negatively, people can be inconsiderate and rude. Before I tell you of my run in with these people who also amazed me you must understand something about deaf culture.

Within deaf culture the views of getting a cochlear implant can be VERY split. You either like them or you don’t. The people who don’t like cochlear implants can be extremely passionate about their views sometimes. Not to say that people who get cochlear implants aren’t passionate as well, but I’ve yet to hear or read of any negative impacts of somebody talking about getting implanted with somebody who wasn’t. The extreme negativity used to be much more prominent about 10 years ago, but some negativity still resides about cochlear implants with some people.

People always have to tell you whose side they are on, and why your side is wrong. That is basically what happened with this “cochlear implant controversy”. The only difference is that these people got extremely passionate. Friends within the deaf “community” were lost because of getting an implant, I’ve read of protesting going on when kids got implanted, hate mail was written (and still is), and just your normal hate talk went on.

This is all because people feel like either, that you are going against God’s image of yourself by getting an implant, that you are trying to wipe out the deaf community, or that you are trying to abolish sign language and are not accepting yourself for who you are.

Now that you have your crash course in deaf controversies, now for what happened to me. I noticed a table sitting in my restaurant last night, one guy kept doing a familiar sign to me. I don’t speak sign language but I recognize a few signs. He was doing the sign for cochlear implant, but from what I understand there are two different versions. The offensive one and the okay one. He went offensive. He kept doing it and pointing at me, then the entire table would look at me and glare. Then somebody would say something while motioning the cochlear implant sign and they would all laugh while looking at me. After reading their lips I discovered they were making fun of my implant. They kept doing it for about 15 minutes, and then I worked it up and went over there. I asked what they needed, seeing as every other server in the building noticed them doing it too. Those people acted like nothing was going on, that really drove me crazy. I don’t think those people truly understood what they were laughing at or what signs they were using. I wasn’t really offended, just taken aback.

People just don’t understand sometimes that things other people have to go through. None of them were deaf. It just goes to show you that anybody will try to put somebody else down if they think it’ll make their night better. I just let it roll off my back and go on with my day.

I hope everybody has a good weekend!

Connor

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Summer Camp!

Deaf signal icon

Hello all,

I hope this post finds you doing well, I’m just chilling enjoying my first real night off in about two weeks. I feel like sometimes summer can get to be busier than the school year.

I have been a camp counselor at the same deaf summer camp every summer for as long as I can remember. The camp is called “Hearts for Hearing” and it is an amazing institution. It is the first and only of it’s kind in the state, and the only one that I know of in the country.

Hearts for Hearing has been instrumental in making hundreds of completely deaf children, like myself (I once was a child…), able to listen and speak at the same levels as developing children of their age level. There are children in the program that drive from hundreds of miles away to attend this listening therapy camp so that they can develop their listening and speaking skills. It truly is inspirational.

I find it amazing that people always believe the first stereotypes they encounter. For instance, typically many people believe that African American diners don’t tip well. Honestly, I think that that is false. Downright wrong. I have had many hundreds of Black families give me better tips than many other White tables left me. It is always the one table that spurs the comments, doesn’t matter what color. Given one bad tip and the server will find a reason to justify why they didn’t leave money. It is sad that they fall to race.

The reason why I brought up stereotypes is because of the stereotypes cast on deaf people. Instantly people believe the deaf stereotypes when they encounter me.

People instantly believe at first look that I am dumb, a lower class citizen (Who knows that could be how I look ha ha). But typically the deaf=dumb stigma can still stand sometimes at first introduction. It is the job of every deaf human being, at least every one who cares, to break down those walls and show everybody else that they are perfectly capable of any task they set their mind too (how cliché, I know).

Sometimes that chance isn’t given to them though. People don’t allow them the chance to prove themselves as perfectly capable human beings. That is why it is the job of everybody else to not judge a book by it’s cover. Just because somebody is deaf doesn’t mean they are any less capable of doing something than you would be. If any of the 40 kids that are 100% deaf in the summer camp, but every one of them talks on level that was much higher than when they started, aren’t enough proof, then look at the graduates of the program.

The graduates of the program are going on to mainstreamed schools (those are normal public schools, not deaf schools) and eventually going on to college. I personally am in college, and two of my deaf friends are in college or have graduated.

I hope somebody learned something today, the kinds in the program have always been inspirational to me and I wanted to share a little of it with you today.

Have a good rest of your week!

Connor

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After Class

Well, I got my six month mapping yesterday, I can definitely tell a difference in what I had been missing. For those of you who don’t know, a mapping is a personalized programming of a cochlear implant to your own specifications. I can help maximize your benefits and enhance your potential from such a device. I got a new one yesterday, but it definitely takes some adjusting.

I had become accustomed to a stabbing pain in my neck and head from the cochlear implant for the last three months. It was especially prevalent whenever loud music was being played, when a man with a deep voice spoke, or when somebody was yelling at me (it happens more than you think ha ha). The pain eventually became simultaneous with noise and I got somewhat used to it, but it was extremely uncomfortable. Thankfully I was able to get that taken away yesterday with the new programming, I am actually able to listen to some music at an acceptable level without wincing at every bass beat!

Unfortunately I have learned that I have again lost more hearing in my left ear. For those of you who aren’t familiar, I had lost nearly all of my hearing in my right ear last summer right before school of my freshman year. I got a cochlear implant over Christmas break last year and now I am adjusting to life with it. Now it seems as though my left ear is going away as well, thankfully not as fast.

I had, for most of my life, had about 80% of my hearing in my left ear and 40%-50% of hearing in my right ear. My right ear is now completely deaf and about two months ago I lost 20% in my left ear leaving it to 60%, and now I’ve lost even more according to the test I took yesterday. I am not yet on the track to get a cochlear implant on my right ear, but that goes to show you that nothing in life is permanent, no matter how promising it looked at one time.

I am still very optimistic about the outcome though, because I feel that whatever needs to happen, will happen. Many people, complete strangers, have come up and talked to me about my cochlear implant and have begun to become educated on the fact that just because people are deaf, they aren’t welfare reliant Americans. That makes me feel good that I can teach people and talk to them about that. I have been extremely successful with my first implant, and if God has in the plan for me to need another one, then I will get another one with time. I always make the best of a situation, even if it isn’t ideal.

I hope everybody is having a good day!

Connor

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It’s Been Awhile

English: Starbucks at West Coast Plaza, Singapore

English: Starbucks at West Coast Plaza, Singapore (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

It has been quite a bit since I’ve updated or even thought about this blog, but this past week I’ve talked to four people who have either thought about getting a cochlear implant or have just gotten activated. For me, I felt that was a lot and it sparked my memory about this blog!

I’ve gone back to serving tables at On the Border again, that has been a tremendous challenge. Every single person in this world has a different voice to adapt too, and if they aren’t aware, they could mumble their order and cause strain for me. Due to my (kinda) still newly activated cochlear implant I can get it taken care of and it has made life so much easier.

I can’t stress how much easier life has gotten since I got my cochlear implant. It still amazes me every morning how much of an improvement the hearing is every time I put it on. The vast array of sounds in the world is amazing, and the ability for me to finally have access to understand and for my brain to comprehend them is awesome. I still to this day am learning new sounds.

People have no idea what they have until they lose it, I promise you. I had enough hearing in my left ear to learn how to speak, and now it is slowly going away. It makes you appreciate what you have and thankful for everything. It makes you appreciate every song you hear, every goodbye you witness, and every hello you come across. Thank God that I was blessed enough to be born in the era where cochlear implants where derived and that I was enabled to have the ability to get one.

I have to be honest for people who are reading this blog and are thinking about getting about a cochlear implant. For me a huge issue was the cosmetic appearance of a cochlear implant and a wire “coming out of my head”.  I will be flat out honest with you, my biggest fear was that people would stare at me, and I can tell you that some uninformed people in this world do stare. I have even had some point at me, it doesn’t even surprise me anymore.

To this second as I am typing this sitting here at the Starbucks I have caught the wandering eyes of two people looking. I use that as two opportunities. One opportunity being that people naturally like checking out a hot deaf guy at a computer…. (I’m just kidding), the real reason I use the staring as is that I teach people that deaf people are normal and able to function just as the rest of society. That lesson is best learned when I’m serving tables or am in class and people don’t even realize that I’m deaf until I make a joke or break that wall. Sometimes I’ll flat out say something, nothing rude of course! Just something to teach them that I’m normal like they are.

Something to remember if you are reading this, is that getting a cochlear implant is hard. It is the hardest thing in the world I’ve ever had to do. It caused me feelings of isolation, loneliness, fear, and it stressed me out to points some people don’t understand. But it has it’s rewards. If you ever run into somebody with one, and they want to talk to you about it, ask them. There are questions they just don’t know how to answer.  But never assume that everybody is like me in the sense that they like joking about it. Because not everybody has a sense of humor like me, I promise! I don’t mind joking with people, but that is me. Not everybody!

I hope everybody is having a good week, I’m sitting here at Starbucks waiting for my friends class to get out so I can actually go home. Have a good week!

Connor

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