From: Kerrville, Texas
"I failed my first hearing screening in Kindergarten," shares Amy. "I felt it was something to be ashamed of and would hide the referrals sent home from the school nurse each year. In the fifth grade, my parents were contacted and I went for my first audiogram, which was an extremely negative experience. The audiologist accused me of faking because children didn't typically have the type of loss that I was showing. I knew I had a problem but was more committed than ever to hide it."
After giving birth to her son, Amy's hearing loss worsened. She was working for a pediatrician at the time who noticed her mishearing phone numbers and names. One day, he invited her out for lunch, but instead took her to an ENT's office. He helped Amy get her first hearing aid, which she is extremely grateful for.
Although her hearing aids were beneficial to her at first, Amy's hearing dropped again after the birth of her next two children. Then, she found out that she was a cochlear implant candidate. At first, she put the decision off, but when her kindergartner was diagnosed with hearing loss and her infant son failed his newborn hearing screening, she decided it was time to make a change.
"As they were being fit for their first aids, I went through the implant process," says Amy. "Everything changed. I could now advocate for them much more easily. I could be involved and engage with them on a level I'd never imagined possible."
Another moment that made Amy realize how much she treasured her hearing was after seeing the show, Les Miserables years apart. She says,
"My son's school performance of Les Miserables was the first event I attended after my cochlear implant was activated. I was still learning to process the sounds I was hearing. Somewhat frustrated, I used an interpreter. Several years later, I sat in the audience of another Les Miserables show, and wept as I listened to the Mormon Tabernacle Choir with Dallyn Bayles sing 'Bring Him Home.' I am still moved to tears every time I hear it. For me it symbolizes how far I've come."
Amy is a mother, a writer, and an advocate in her community. She is involved in many volunteer activities including Meals on Wheels and giving back at her local senior center. Most importantly, she has had a long journey with hearing loss, but has come out on the other side stronger and with a powerful voice to share.
"I grew up in a family with an abundance of hearing loss but also an abundance of shame," she shares. "With my own children (and with others) my goal is to break that taboo. Hearing loss is nothing to hide, it doesn't mean you are weak or intellectually inferior. I've been there, truly. I know the loneliness, the fear and I also know the triumph in not letting your hearing loss hold you back. I am not afraid to use my voice."
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