Living with a hearing impairment is honestly a constant rollercoaster. There are ups and downs that I have personally experienced and will likely have many more to come. I was born deaf, and when my parents prayed for me to be able to hear, they didn’t realize it would be through the technology of a cochlear implant.
A cochlear implant is kind of like a hearing aid on steroids. However, it has to process that sound into meaning for me. Unfortunately, there is a slight delay in this process so it is a challenge for me to follow the speed of a conversation and an even more difficult or a somewhat impossible task to participate in a group conversation. I prefer an environment with minimal background noise and am usually the quiet kid in the group and rely on body language to follow what the implications are of the conversation. I miss out on so many things and, wow, have I learned who my friends are – someone who doesn’t mind repeating what I missed!
The slow incline on this ride was to learn speech and the meaning of sound. But when I took off, I started to enjoy some things that others may be jealous of. For example, I can enjoy the luxury of taking my cochlear implants off at night and will never have to listen to someone snore! I can withstand loud noises without it bothering me, like a fire alarm, chainsaw, heavy equipment, gunshots and fireworks, now those I can hear great! I usually get the best seat so I can read lips and I have some “in stereo” equipment to give me direct sound but it is kind of funny when the teacher forgets she is wearing the microphone! Another benefit is being able to very easily tune something out that I do not want to hear and I will keep those secrets to myself so I don’t blow my own cover.
The scary part of this ride for me is what if there would be an intruder break into my home; I would not be able to hear it … or a fire at night time when I was enjoying that peaceful sleep. Also, I always take my cochlear implants off when I am in the water, so there is always a communication barrier.
Background noise is probably one of my greatest enemies when it comes to understanding others. It is everywhere – on the road, especially when music is on; in the mall, restaurants, social events like school dances and ball games; on the soccer field; and at school, the cafeteria is usually the low point of the day besides homework of course.
Living with the pros and cons or the ups and downs can obviously be challenging but this is who I am … Broc Oliverio, the boy who loves to play soccer, makes the honor roll, enjoys helping others, a good Christian, and I love music! I just happen to be wired a little differently, but aren’t we all?