“Two feet in and full speed ahead” with my deafness. I am not sure if my family is ready to handle me embracing ASL and deaf culture and my acceptance of progressive hearing loss. NO, I don’t want to rush into surgery and plug another device (a cochlear implant) into my head.
This month will mark my one-year anniversary of going deaf. I didn’t have a difficult experience until severe ear pain landed me in a hospital bed for 10 days. I had mastoiditis - a bone infection - which doesn’t necessarily cause deafness but can be quite dangerous. I did not get my hearing back. The doctors are still not sure why. You can read more about my experience in my blog post Guy With Two Pillows Between His Ears. I have accomplished a lot in the past year:
1. My Facebook friends went from 300 to 500.
2. I started my “World of Silence” blog. I wrote 62 blogs and received 50K pageviews.
3. ReSound has used two of my “World of Silence” blogs to help others in need.
4. I was invited to start a weekly blog at Deaf-Insight. I guess Monica Hood fell in love with my writing.
5. I’ve never missed a Deaf Chat
6. I am learning ASL so I can communicate with others.
7. I was finally able to see a movie using the SONY captioning glasses.
8. I got a CaptionCall phone to communicate with my family.
9. I got the ReSound Technology Alera 962TSG, PhoneClip+, and MIniMic (a.k.a Wife Mic).
10. I’ve met some amazing people online - Dan Schwartz, Monica Hood, Shanna Bartlett Groves, Cynthia Dixon, SayWhatClub, DeafandHoH.com, and many others.
11. On my blog I ran a fun deaf-insight contest; 10 people won Dave Ramsey Total Money Makeover books and 1 person won a Deaf-Insight T-Shirt. You can read the story here: Hearing Aids Are Expensive
As you can see my list is long. In fact, I have a separate thank you list here: Thank You. I am not poetic nor a research writer but I write with my heart. I write with the intention to bring people into my world so they can learn to appreciate silence and know deafness is not the end of the world. I get so upset when I tell people I am deaf or becoming deafer and they say, “I’m sorry.” My response is usually, “I’m sorry you hear. I’m sorry you can’t experience a moment of silence in a world where there is so much noise and nowhere you can go to find quiet.”
Question and Answer Time
1. What is going on with Jeff - I Year Later
My hearing is getting worse. I go for another hearing test in a week and hopefully the audiologist will be able to make some adjustment. My last hearing test showed that my hearing loss is severe and now I have difficulty hearing even with my hearing aids. Although hearing aids are a wonderful resource and I’m thankful ReSound has amazing technology, there are not a perfect solution. It can be annoying to stick something in my ear just to hear annoying people and sounds. I am finally able to function at work with my hearing aids and devices and listen to conversations on telephone, but it took a long time to get to that point.
2. Where do you feel at peace?
I feel at peace when I am writing my blog, when I can pull out my hearing aids, when I am with my family, and being myself. I am at peace being deaf. I don’t like when people say, “I am sorry for your loss”. I don’t see my deafness as a loss but more of a gain where I can chose to block out noise just by pulling out these two little things in my ears. But, I also believe God and my wife gave me strength to work through my fear and find peace.
3. What will Jeff do next?
It was my goal at the end of 2012 to find offline deaf people and connect with them. It’s not easy to find people in my area who sign or admit they are deaf - I DON’T KNOW WHY. For me, I wear my deaf t-shirt everywhere I am not ashamed to tell the whole world I am deaf. Most of the time people don’t care. Well, I am meeting deaf people offline. I joined an ASL Meetup. I am taking an ASL course at the University of Georgia so I can properly communicate with my family in the evening and weekend when my hearing aids come out. Finally, I want to start a support group for married couples struggling with hearing loss. I know there are organizations but with my professional background as a marriage counselor and growing knowledge of deaf culture, I can help others in need.
“In conclusion” . . . Sorry but conclusions only happen when you die, and I have only just started living in this wonderful World of Silence.
My name is Jeff Swartz and I live in Atlanta, GA. I am married to wonderful wife and have two teenaged daughter.