My Stubborn Dilemma

International Symbol of Deafness / Hard of Hea...

International Symbol of Deafness / Hard of Hearing This symbol indicates individual(s) who is deaf, hard of hearing, or having some degrees of hearing loss. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Hey guys! I know it has been forever since I’ve updated my blog, but the other day something happened and I felt like it was very appropriate to tell you about it!

Thursday, I undertook the task of “biting the bullet” (at least that’s how I felt) and asked for assistance from my university. I live by myself and I wanted to ask for assistance in getting an alert system for my apartment. I never like to ask for help and I get easily embarrassed when I do. I hate feeling like I’m needy or helpless and that I am left to another human being to fix my own problems.

I know, I am your typical male in wanting to fix my own issues even when it may be beneficial to ask for help.

Getting back to the story, I went to the office of disability services in order to look into possibly getting an alert system for my apartment. I have never registered with the office of disability services, and they never even knew I was on campus. When I called it obviously did not please them that I hadn’t registered. I had always hated the idea of the label “disabled” pinned on my file, or even on my life.

I know, asking for help doesn’t make me disabled, but I’ve always been a very independent person and I’ve never wanted to think of myself as a somewhat lower class citizen, so I haven’t registered. Even through high school, it was somewhat difficult for me to accept that I was a little bit different than everybody else. Thursday though, it was the idea of actually registering with the “Office of DISABILITY Services” that completely freaked me out. To the general public, the word disabled carries a negative stigma with it that I don’t want associated with me.

Apparently the alert system will cost about $3000, and I will have to move into another apartment in order to receive it’s benefits after I’ve registered. They told me that I need to consider a signer or a professional note taker because all of the other deaf people use it.

Honestly that frustrates me. Yes, I understand that they are trying to help. But not every deaf person fits their cookie cutter definition of “deaf”. That’s what I’m trying to prove to people by going to school, holding a job (several actually!), and being a mainstreamed student.

I feel like people needs to expand their belief system a little and understand that not every person is the same. The lady went on to say that I was “hard of hearing”, not “deaf”. Okay?

I was a little frustrated to be labeled by somebody who has no grounds to speak on the subject. I really have a problem with people passing judgements on another person without any prior knowledge. This applies anywhere in life, not just with deaf people.

The other day when I actually wrote this post, it was fuming with anger. I deliberately waited to post it so that I would not post something inappropriate. I was irritated with the fact that a person who didn’t know me took one look at my life and labeled me as deaf who needs a signer amongst all kinds of other services. I was mad that she looked at the outside of me and labeled me instead of looking at the actual me and finding out who I really am.

I’m afraid that that happens too much in life, I catch myself passing judgements all kinds of people even when I don’t know them. This experience has opened me up to trying to actually get to know different people in life. It has also opened me up to the ignorance of people in society sometimes, but hopefully being patient will help them in the long run.

Have a great week!

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Summer School’s Done!

Logarithms

Logarithms (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

….Well almost, and I’ve gotta admit, that math class was embarrassingly hard. I’ll be glad when I’m back in Norman with my friends and not having to worry about logarithms in math and serving tables at On the Border.

This summer really went by fast, and by fast, I mean it seems like I was just moving into my dorm last year. And it seriously was an entire year ago. It’s amazing how fast it went by. I’m thinking about how much I’ve changed in a year as well, it’s astonishing how much somebody can change in just a short time.

I’ve changed in so many ways. A year ago, I had never heard many of the sounds I come across on a daily basis now. Just experiencing that gift of sound for the six months I’ve had it has completely changed my outlook in life for the better. Honestly, I believe it has made me a happier and less stressed out person. Before college, I had never really grown up, which isn’t abnormal. I mean you really can grow up being 45 minutes away from home.

I feel like I’ve also learned a lot more about people and how many different kinds of them there are in the world. I’ve started to pay attention to other people in my life other than myself, and it’s made me a happier person. I’ve learned that you should never change yourself for anybody, which is something that I may have learned a little late. I remember in middle school, I would go to classes and just not wear my hearing aids for fear that people would judge me. The funny thing is, now I’m the one in college and most of the people that judged me in my younger years haven’t seen the inside of a university. I’ve learned to stop caring what other people think, which is a very late, but a hard lesson to learn. But honestly, it can be extremely hard to learn that lesson as a kid when you feel like you are the only one going through what you are going through.

I know that lesson doesn’t just apply to deaf people too.


Sometimes, people can be cruel, but I honestly feel that everybody in this world has the capacity to be a good person. I hate how people blame their actions on their upbringing. It floors me, I’m the product of three divorces and I am deaf, I mention those because being products of divorces increases the risk of being a criminal when the child grows up (I don’t know how they find that because it seems like everybody is the product of divorce anymore), and being deaf increases the risk of depression and other mental disorders. I’ve never let the negatives in my life replace the positives. I honestly believe in the good in other people, even if I have good reason to not do so. I’ll let you consider that a good or bad quality. I hope that by reading this blog, people are learning more about people that are deaf and I hope that somehow you are able to relate some of my posts to events in your life.

Have a good day!

Connor

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No Air Conditioning

English: Series of air conditioners at UNC-CH.

As I’m writing this blog, I’m experiencing the beginning of my house loosing the nice cool air and having it replaced with hot, unwelcome air. It is definitely an unwelcome addition to my house after having worked two doubles and after going to church this weekend. It’s situations like this that make you appreciate what you have when you loose it.

That is what my topic is for today, appreciating what you have before you loose it. Now, I’m sure everybody has heard this saying a million and one times, but it still sucks just as much when you have to face the downfalls of not listening to the saying. This saying could apply to anything; not appreciating a nice car you have, not appreciating a good person in your life, not appreciating a good job, or not appreciating yourself, but it always sucks when you loose something you care about or something happens to you that you were not expecting.

I’ve recently suffered the major downfalls of not appreciating what I have. Not to say that I’m going anywhere or doing anything, but I’ve had to suffer the consequences of not taking advantage of every situation I could.

I feel like everybody needs to experience disappointments in life so that they may come to appreciate all of the good that life and the people in it has to offer. Believe me, everybody at one time or another experiences major setbacks in life. That’s what makes it life. If it was heaven, we wouldn’t have to deal with that. But we aren’t yet in heaven, so we still have to deal with the stress and anxiety that all this life has to offer. But there is still good in life, you just have to sometimes look harder for it some days than others.

A good example of this, I went 19 years of my life with having extremely poor hearing on my right ear. I didn’t hear much sound on that side at all for most of my life. If I ever did, I don’t remember. Than, one day I got it turned on. Now, that was one of the best days of my life, but it took a long journey to get there. There were many days of disappointments and despair before approaching the January 5, 2011 activation date. Now, I am much less stressed out about that. Had I not experienced the anxiety and learned to appreciate how it feels to be deaf for the majority of my childhood life, I wouldn’t know how to truly appreciate the gift God gave me.

I believe that that philosophy is everywhere in life, you just have to keep your chin up in times of difficulties and just push through it. I’m about to go take a cold shower to get rid of the heat stroke I’m about to go through due to no A.C.

Have a good week guys!!

Connor

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In A Bubble

Dr Pepper

I hope everybody is doing well today, I’m doing pretty good. I’ve been pretty busy, mostly with work and school. Everything is going well but I’m getting weary of the summer school. I’ve got an 8:00 a.m. math class that I’ve gotta meet at and it’s proved to be pretty difficult.

I met some pretty amazing people at work the other day, these people were truly awesome. They were a nice couple who were the CEO’s of a local bank in town and they sat and talked to me while I broke down my section. We talked about our jobs, they asked me about school, about what I’m going to major in, and than we started talking about my cochlear implant. They were very impressed with me, and these were people that I had just met that day. I’ve always loved people who have shown care in people outside their normal range of friends. I try to emulate that quality in my own life by caring about everybody around me, not just the people I know. That amazing couple left me a great tip when they left and a business card with the instructions to contact them via email. These people are amazing and truly are a blessing to the people around them.

The other day at work I seriously felt like I was in a literal bubble made out of latex….. Your probably wondering what I mean, and no not that…. I mean I couldn’t hear a thing. My hearing fluctuates with the weather, and that day my hearing had hit an all time low, while at work. I’ve never had such a difficult shift. Everything sounded the same, “Dr. Pepper” sounded like “Tortillas” and “Enchiladas” sounded like “Extra Napkins”. It was horrible. I basically just had to suck it up and get through the shift. Luckily I didn’t run into too many issues and I moved on with life.

It is days like that that can sometimes leave somebody dealing with this feeling lonely and really stressed out. How many people do you know have to deal with their hearing fluctuating with the hours that pass? It can be a little trying on your emotions. When I was younger, I used to get so angry at myself and God for making me have to go through dealing with this. I’m different than your normal deaf person, because my hearing will be “okay” (within reason) one day, and than almost gone another. It can fluctuate a bunch.

Now that I’ve gotten older, I’m glad that it was me that was the one that was chosen to go through this. Yes, it can be difficult sometimes to deal with being deaf, but I got it. Somebody, who was deaf, came into work the other deaf soliciting the customers for money by giving them a card asking them and signing. You will never catch me doing something like that. I try to be approachable for people in the same situation, or for people who have questions so that people may learn from me about a different part of life. I feel it was a blessing from God for me to go through this so that I may be able to help others in the same situation.

I hope you learned something new today!

Connor

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Busy, Busy, Busy

I’ve been pretty busy since my last post, but I wanted to post on my blog the video and news article that Hearts for Hearing had done on them. I am a part of both of them and it turned out pretty awesome!

The video is here, it is linking you to the Thunder interview that myself and some other teachers participated in. It turned out great!

Then I did an article for The Daily Oklahoman alongside some other people for Hearts for Hearing, here that is!

I think it is great that more and more people are starting to take in interest in getting these kids the help they need in order to succeed in the world like every other child.

I really hope that by reading this blog, that people are becoming increasingly educated about how it is to get a cochlear implant, or to go through life as a deaf teenager. I believe that if anybody is thinking about making such a drastic decision as to get a cochlear implant, they really need to think about the weight of that decision. I’m hoping that by going into past articles, that you can learn that it was never an easy decision, it was never an easy choice, it was never an easy recovery, but it was what I needed to do for myself in order to make myself successful. Honestly, it has been one of the hardest things I have ever done though.

Yes, I acknowledge that that wasn’t my only option for success in my life, but it was the one that worked for me. I believe that the controversy about cochlear implants stems from deaf people learning that cochlear implants are the only thing you can do to be successful. That isn’t true. I hope that anybody reading this takes whatever they learn and makes the right choice, not the easy one. I hope that people learn from my blog that cochlear implants are extremely successful if administered correctly, and that it can be extremely beneficial.

Nobody ever said life was easy, or that life was fair. But there is ALWAYS something you can do to improve your situation.

Yes, I sometimes get frustrated with my situation. I sometimes get really irritated with the fact that I didn’t hear that hot girl at table 45’s drink order, or that I didn’t hear the lyrics to the song the first time, or that I didn’t hear the phone ring. I get embarrassed just as everybody else would about being different, but then I realize that their opinion doesn’t matter. I turn up my cochlear implant, put a new hearing aid battery in, and I go ask that hot girl what she wanted to drink again. I don’t care what other people think. This is how I was born, so being embarrassed or frustrated is a waste of my time. I take that embarrassment and turn it into a joke, which then turn into educating people. Because I commonly get the “Really?! You don’t sound like a deaf person!” That makes me happy. I like that I can make a positive impact in people’s lives.

Have a good weekend and don’t blow your hand off on the 4th!

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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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Round Number Two!

I feel as though I’m feeling the same I did back in August of last year. Only opposite ears. It’s the physical shifts of hearing in the middle of the day. The feeling dizzy, the pain in the ears, the difficulty focusing. Its all back!

What do I mean? I’m slowly loosing hearing in my left ear now. It’s going slowly day by day. The entire reason for the creation of this blog was because I was sensing the loss of hearing in my right ear, and I wanted to document it. I wanted documentation through losing the hearing, pre-surgery, post surgery and now. I wanted people who have never been exposed to this part of life to have some kind of knowledge of something they have never known.  Never would I have thought that I would have lost my left ear to LVAS, at least not so soon!

It hasn’t even been four months and I’m fighting that uphill battle again, only with different ears. Except this time I’m losing it on my ear that I have used for everything. Losing hearing in my right ear was different than losing hearing in my left ear. In my right ear, I had always been a degree of deafness making me not able to really function using just that ear. Had I been born with both ears like my right ear, life would have been a different story. A story involving sign language, early childhood surgery’s and many other different life experiences.

I have always used my left ear in a dominate form to listen to music, talk on the phone, and hear a conversation. Heck I even sleep on my right ear just so I can have my left ear exposed just in case something happens and I might be lucky enough to hear it. Obviously most people don’t have to pick a favorite ear, the best way to relate it is to relate it to hands, you are either left or right handed.

I’m not one to sit and complain about situations. I feel that there is a reason that I have been chosen to go through these life experiences. I’m choosing to learn from them instead of mope within them.

I’m hoping that the left ear will stabilize, at least so I can have time to completely get on my feet with the newly activated cochlear implant. It is still taking a lot of time. I was told that had I not gotten activated over Christmas break like I had, this semester would have been much more difficult for me. I couldn’t agree more.

I couldn’t be more happy with the decision to have gotten the cochlear implant when I did. Now I’m hoping that I don’t keep having those sensations of hearing loss in the other ear.

Only time can tell, but everything happens for a reason and the best thing I can do is make the absolute best of any situation and learn from it.

Have a good week!

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