Tuesday, March 6, 2012

Am I Okay Being Deaf?

Deaf, Me? Fine. (ASL order)
I'm Deaf and I'm fine with it. (English) 

The most common questions that I often get are:

  1. Are you okay with being Deaf? 
  2. Are you okay with being the only Deaf person in your family?
  3. Do you ever wonder what hearing things would be like?
  4. If you could then would you fix/cure your Deafness so you'd be able to hear? 

Do I find those questions offensive? Nah, not even close.

Am I okay with being Deaf? Absolutely! As many of you know,  I am most likely to be born Deaf or became Deaf shortly after birth. Back in mid-eighties; they did not have a newborn hearing test like we do today, and we can't be exactly sure why I am Deaf while rest of my siblings are not. It is estimated that I probably did not have hair cells that developed properly in my cochleas. That is possibly why I am able to hear loud environmental sounds while I am unable to hear sounds at a normal level that hearing people can hear.

I am the only Deaf person in my family. The only person I knew that had any form of hearing problem was my great-grandma on my dad's side of the family; she became hard of hearing at age of twenty, but adapted pretty well with her hearing loss. I do not know if there is any other history of hearing loss in my family on both paternal and maternal sides. My brother, and two of my cousins, whom I do call my siblings as well, are not Deaf. My parents, aunts, uncles, and grandparents are not Deaf. Now I consider myself lucky because my immediate family knows how to sign, and my extended family members take their time to communicate with me by writing or gesturing or through others interpreting for us.

Unfortunately, this is not very common. Not many Deaf people have the same experiences as I had which is sad.

However, I have not felt very excluded often within my family. If I did then I certainly did not remember. I was often very included in every way. I adapted pretty well to living with my hearing family.

Have I ever wondered what hearing would be like?

Sure. I have. I do wonder what my husband's voice sound like. What voices sound like especially accents. What my cats' meowing sound like. A phone ringing. Being able to talk on the phone/cell phone. And oh many more.

Some people tell me, thank god you don't have to hear him rambling. Damn, that sounded terrible--be glad you didn't hear that! 

I find that funny and a part of me is relieved that I can't hear that...but there is other part of me that DOES wonder. I ask people...what does that sound like? They are taken off guard. They stumble, trip, or stammer as they try to explain the sound to me. To them, it is difficult to explain what a sound is like! I could imagine that it is no different than describing colors to a blind person since birth.

But am I sad that I can't hear?

No. Not at all. Just because I wonder doesn't mean that I am sad for the loss that I never had to begin with.

This kind of leads into the last question; Do I ever want to fix/cure my Deafness?

Actually no.

I am not against any form of hearing aids or speaking or Cochlear Implant. I think it is a personal choice. If a Deaf person wants hearing aids/CI or to speak instead of signing then that is fine as long as that person is comfortable doing what he/she is doing. I respect everybody's personal choice.

But as for me, I definitely don't want any of those. I do not want any hearing aids. I do not want a CI. I do not want to speak. I feel comfortable with not hearing and signing. That is what I grew up with. I have had past two-something decades of adjusting to my hearing loss. I have my ways. I  won't lie; there have had been moments of frustrations and I was pretty sure if I have had been hearing then my life would have been easier in some ways.

Then again, who says that life is also easy for Hearing people?

If I change the way I am now then I will be losing a big part of who I am.