Deafness is not the end of the world

Sue Smith

Copyright 2005

My name is Sue Smith and I live in Phoenix, Arizona, also known as the Valley of the Sun. I was born with perfectly normal hearing and never had any problems until my mid 30’s. At that time I began to notice people seemed to mumble more and the volume wasn’t working right on the TV. My children were also misbehaving a lot more because when I would put them in bed at night I would no longer go in to tell them to stop talking!

I guess you could say I was really in denial but the truth was, I was slowly going deaf. My descent into the non-hearing world was a slow one. It began, as I said, in my mid 30’s and didn’t end until I was 45. At that point I was deaf. My dB loss was 115 in my right ear and 110 in my left.

It was a scary time for me because I did not know sign language nor could I read lips. The human mind is amazing though, because I worked at trying to read lips until I could at least understand a little of what was being said.

It was a very frightening time for me. I stopped socializing. I stopped going anywhere and doing things with friends. I was afraid I was going to lose my job because I needed to be able to hear in order to do my duties. My husband said it was if I just folded up into myself. I became depressed and very afraid of everything. Amazingly I did learn how to lip read in a few short months. My coping skills took over.

I was told by my audiologist that I was eligible for a cochlear implant. So August 28, 2001, just three months after going completely and totally deaf, I received my implant. Because I was a hearing person most of my life, I responded quickly to hearing and understanding voices, etc. I focused on listening to people talk without reading their lips.

It was a long, hard road but I traveled it with enthusiasm, celebrating each new accomplishment. My husband described it as watching a wilted flower come back to life and its buds opening up into a full bloom.

I then decided to do something I never thought I would do. I began selling a well-known product. I began going from house to house meeting people I had never talked to before and making new friends. My customer base began to build until now it is over 200! I even signed up other gals who sold it as my downline.

But that wasn’t the only new beginning for me. I live in a Homeowner’s Association and I was very unhappy with the way things were being done, so I volunteered for the Board of Directors. At first I was the Member at Large and because I work at the state House of Representatives, I had state laws at my finger tips. Anytime they did anything that I felt was not right, I challenged it. Eventually the President stepped down and two of the members as well. Two other homeowners who were tired of how the former president ran things also got on the board. But we needed a new president. Guess who was elected? ME! I am now on my second year as president of my HOA, and as president I have been instrumental in getting many changes made in my neighborhood that benefit the homeowners.

These are two things I would never have attempted before my Cochlear Implant. But even before I went deaf I would not have had the courage to do this. I had to go deaf and realize I could still survive. Deafness was not the end of the world. I discovered that I was a lot stronger than I thought I was. So with the implant I decided to take life by the horns and run with it. Looking back I have no regrets what-so-ever!


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