My name is Frieda and I am hearing impaired. Here, you will find stories of my life growing up and what it is like for me to be a wife, a mom of two boys, and hearing impaired.

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

My First Pair of Hearing Aids

Before Kindergarten started, I was introduced to my teacher.  I was able to walk around the empty classroom and find my own desk.  Then the teacher showed me a box attached to a set of headphones.  I remembered the headphones from the hearing test and put them on.

The teacher held a microphone to her lips and began talking to me.  I could understand her!  The only time I would use the headphones was during story time.  I don't ever remember her using the microphone during any other time.

During my next visit to the audiologist, it was time to be fitted for ear molds.  A piece of cotton attached to a string was stuck in my right ear.  To this day, I cannot handle the feel of cotton balls....the mere thought of touching them brings prickly goosebumps to my skin.

I sat, with cotton strings from both ears, watching the audiologist mixing something.  I wish I knew what was going on!  He was stirring a goopy pink mix with a wooden popsicle stick.  Very quickly, the pungent smell of new plastic stung my nose.

He took this pink goop and scooped it into a plastic syringe.  I looked closely....I didn't see a needle.  I still had no idea what was going on and my imagination started to run wild.  I looked around the room and found my mom, silently watching.  I didn't see any concern or worry on her face, so I sat still and waited for what was to come next.

He tugged on my ear and began to squeeze the syringe....the soft, cold plastic quickly oozed into my ear, completely shutting out ALL sound.  He gently tapped and pushed on the plastic, making sure it had completely filled my inner and outer ear.

After filling my other ear, I entered into COMPLETE silence.  Wide eyed, I looked at my audiologist.  He held up his hand and gestured for me to "wait."  Wait?  How long?  There was no way to communicate.  It wasn't long before he tugged on the string and pulled the molds out of each ear.  My ears felt like they could finally breathe.  I felt like I could finally breathe.

A few weeks later, my ear molds arrived.  I was ready to be fitted with Behind the Ear (BTE) hearing aids.

It was winter time when I received my new hearing aids.  "I can hear the snow crunch!"  I excitedly told my mom while walking out to the car.  I was introduced to SO many sounds that day.  I asked a lot of questions: "Why is the cat roaring?" (He was purring) "What is that sound?"  "Where is it coming from?"

And so my journey into a new world of sound began....

Saturday, April 24, 2010

Introduction & Diagnosis

My name is Frieda.  I am the third child in a family of four adoptive children.  I was born with a moderate to severe hearing impairment.  I am a wife and a mother of two boys in their teens.

Here is the beginning of my story.

One of my earliest recollections was of listening to a radio.  I was probably about three years old.  I remember holding the small, white pocket radio really close....right up to my ear, listening to music.

 My parents knew that something was different about me.  I  was a curious child, poking in drawers,  and keenly observant about my surroundings.  When I began to talk, my language skills were..... different.  I would say, "fida ator" for refrigerator.  It was a language all my own, a language only my parents could understand.  I am sure my mother patiently repeated the words, enunciating them clearly to me.  But the progress wasn't there.  Basically, I was speaking the words I was hearing.  As a toddler, I was taken to an audiologist for a hearing test, but my mom said I was so uncooperative, the test was never done.

It wasn't until I was about five years of age, getting ready for Kindergarten, that I was taken for another attempt to test my hearing.  The first thing I remember was seeing what looked like a large safe.  As the audiologist slowly opened the door, I remember screaming and crying.  I truly believed that I was going to be "locked" in the safe.....forever.

What was different this time was that my mother was allowed to come with me into the "safe."  The audiologist showed me the pictures on the walls and pointed to the toys on the floor.  He sat down, picked up a pair of headphones, and placed them on his head.  He looked into my eyes and gently placed the headphones on my head and left the room.

But he did not close the door.  I felt better.

I heard a voice through the headphones.  He called me by name and asked if I could hear him.  He then asked me to pick up a particular toy.  Asked me to point to one of the pictures on the wall.  Asked me to pick up another toy.  What a fun game!  This interaction continued until he had enough information for a diagnosis.

 I don't know what term they used in the 70's...perhaps it was "hearing impaired."  At this time, I understand my diagnosis to be "congenital moderate to severe bi-lateral sensory neural hearing loss."  This simply means that my hearing loss is in both ears and I have had this loss since I was born.  Being an adoptive child, there are no medical records or prenatal history that indicate why I have this particular loss.

What is your story?