From: Denver, CO
For Mandy, hearing loss came suddenly and surprisingly.
"In August (of) 2006, while I was at CSU (Colorado State University) for vocal music education, I started to notice I was having trouble understanding my teachers speaking. By Christmas, I was borderline legally deaf, and within nine months, I had lost the bulk of my residual hearing. I initially doubted anything was wrong and tried to convince myself that I just had a bad ear infection. Or that I was going to get better at any moment. I tried to continue my studies as a music major and avoided conversations with people I didn't know. In short, I became invisible," she said.
"I got to a point where I couldn't hide from the truth and my family encouraged me to remain positive. That is a hard thing to do in that situation so, if I am perfectly honest, I started to take action because I felt like I was meant to be a musician and I needed to do whatever I could to keep myself involved. I was fitted for hearing aids that helped me through my freshman year at college."
Because of the severity of Mandy's hearing loss, her devices can partially restore her hearing abilities for certain levels of sound, but not all of them. However, they do allow her to continue to sing and perform the music she loves.
"Hearing better or not, it was important for me to understand what was going on in my life and to be able to pursue the options available to me. Once I accepted what was going on and became determined to find a solution, my life and relationships improved 100%."
"…I have pushed to (still perform) music even after I lost my hearing. One moment that stands (out for) me is when I sang and spoke for a Hearing Loss Association of America (HLAA) conference. A room filled with (the) deaf and others with hearing loss all giving each other encouragement. The fun part was that the music was streaming into the hearing aids and people who had just started using those devices heard me sing and came up to me later to give me a hug and tell me that they felt like they were not alone. There is nothing better I could do with my life."
"…I feel I have a duty to inspire others and to help them through this transition (accepting hearing loss) in their lives. (Being named a HearStrong Champion is) another step in my journey to change how people see hearing loss. I was blessed to have people around me to push through and it would be an insult to them and to myself not to be that person for someone else."
To check out Mandy's music, click here!
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