From: Dallas, TX
Rachael developed hearing loss following a bout with meningitis as a baby. But despite experiencing hearing difficulties throughout her childhood and teens, she was hesitant to utilize any type of hearing technology.
“I used to be very embarrassed by my hearing loss. I would apologize when asking people to repeat themselves and would cry after a hard day at school. I adapted pretty well, and functioned pretty (normally), but I still struggled. I adapted so well that most people never knew about my hearing loss. You really learn how to fake hear people and read body language and read lips—but that doesn’t replace how good it feels to actually be able to communicate efficiently,” said Rachael.
“I finally got to a point where I needed something in order to function at my job, so I got hearing aids. It was hard for me to give in because none of my close friends or family have hearing loss. I always felt so out of place, and when my tinnitus (ringing in the ears) got so bad... I realized I needed some help. I could no longer just rely on lip reading to get by. I was missing everything when I went out with my friends, so I just got to a point where I was so sick of missing everything.”
“I don’t feel like I am as much of a burden on my friends and family. I know they don’t see me that way, but that’s how I feel when I can’t hear anything. I really hate missing important conversations and jokes. It’s not fun.”
Rachael also revels in the independence that hearing better has afforded her.
“I am able to work, support myself, and live in my own apartment. I still miss things, but not as much as I would without my hearing aids. Being able to support myself and live on my own is such an amazing feeling and accomplishment for me. I love being self-sufficient. It makes me feel strong.”
In 2014, Rachael was crowned Miss Texas International. She competed on a hearing loss-focused platform called Conquer. Live. Repeat.
“Being crowned Miss Texas International is a moment I will never forget as long as I live. Embracing my (hearing loss) is what finally allowed me to win the title. I competed five times with a different platform before finally deciding to speak out about hearing loss. Once I did that, I won! It just goes to show that being yourself is so much better than trying to hide. Everyone will love you so much more because of it!”
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