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Patty’s Story

April 11th, 2008 by | Tags: | 8 Comments »

Patty and I met each other on Facebook about two years ago and conversed with each other on IM for awhile, sharing our stories about our lives. Here is her story:

I was born hearing. At the age of six months, I was diagnosed with spinal meningitis, very deadly for babies. The first night I was in the hospital, the doctors told my parents that I will not survive through the night. Luckily, I did and eventually conquered the disease. Right after, my hearing was tested normal. When I was two years old, I was diagnosed as profoundly deaf. It was vaguely unsure of how I lost my hearing. Everyone seemed to think that my hearing progressively got worse over time since my encounter with meningitis and that those two were connected somehow. It was very hard on my parents because there was no history of hearing loss like that in our family. They didn’t know what to do.

I tried hearing aids for about a year or so, obviously that did not work at all for me. I was put in a hearing impaired class at a public school at three years old. I even started speech therapy before I could hear. They finally heard about cochlear implants. Even though it was not FDA-approved at the time, they felt like it was the only answer for me to have a normal life and being in the hearing world with my family. I was living in Fl and the closest CI center was in Texas at the time. We would have to fly back and forth several times. The doctors were unsure of doing the surgery on me since they had not done it on anyone that young yet. In January of 1989, I received an implant on my right ear. I was the youngest person in America for a very short time and the first person in Florida to receive a cochlear implant. From that point and on, my life and speech made a huge 180.

I became fully mainstreamed in second grade. In middle school, I went to a public school that had a hearing impaired program. I had an oral interpreter in very few classes, even though I hated having one. In high school, I went to a school w/ the same program but I did not receive any help with any of my classes. Middle of my sophomore year, I transferred to my neighborhood public school to be closer to home. They did not have any programs for the hearing impaired or disabled. I went through high school with no problems. I was very involved with the school. I just graduated from University of Central Florida with a BS degree in communication sciences and disorders. I’m hoping to go back to grad school in a couple years to get my doctorate in Audiology or work for Cochlear Corporations.

I went through intense speech therapies for several years up until about 7th grade. Without my parents’ determination or cochlear implants, I would not be where I am now. I am so grateful for my parents’ choice and conquering all the things I went through. Sure, there are times when I hate being deaf but in the end, I consider myself a hearing person because of all the things I do.

I received my second implant in December of 2006 on my left ear. I decided to go through it to have a better sense of directional hearing and in fear of having my right implant failing since I still have the original implant from 1989 (19 years). I am not so sure about it because they do not make the nucleus 22 anymore. I have the freedom in my newly implanted. I am not happy with the appearance of it at all. It’s a lot bigger than my nucleus 22. I’m trying to make myself wear it everyday but I don’t. Hopefully, over time it’ll get smaller and I’ll be less hesitated to put it on.

I love to hang out with my friends, talk on my cell phone (I’m always running out of minutes..shhh), dancing, having fun, listening to my iPod, etc. I’ve been dancing since I was three years old. It has always been a way to show everyone that I can be like everyone else. I have been on school dance teams and national dance teams. During my years on a national dance team, we won the nationals twice! I did so many things in college: Delta Gamma (sorority), being the president of UCF’s local NSSLHA chapter, holding positions in various charity-related clubs, etc.

I have never been around deaf people except for the two summers I spent at summer camp up at Clarke School in Massachusetts. Most days I forget that I am deaf since everyone treats me like a hearing person. Whenever I meet a new person, they would be shocked because of how I spoke and how I mingled with the hearing community. When I take off my implant to go to bed, I would be like “O yea, I’m deaf!” Those two are some of my absolute favorite feelings in the world!

Here are the newspaper articles about me that was written in the Florida Times Union:
- There was an article from when I first got my first implant activated in 1989, unfortunately I cannot find it.
- http://www.jacksonville.com/tu-online/stories/012599/met_2b1Lookb.html (1999)
- http://www.jacksonville.com/tu-online/stories/020707/neR_7358345.shtml (2007)

8 Comments

Elizabeth

April 11, 2008 at 6:36 pm

Thank you for sharing, Patty! Can I recruit you to go into audie/AVT practice with me five years from now?

Have you tried the Freedom Mini BTE? Compared to the N22 ESPrit (which I’m assuming you have… those are so tiny!), anything would seem big, but maybe the Mini would be a little more of a balance? I know a girl who also hates the feeling of anything (even the ESPrit) behind her ears, so she wears the processor in her hair, holding it there with a rubberband. Good luck with your “new ear”! That must be a big adjustment!

Good luck with grad school. Thank you for being a wonderful advocate!

April 12, 2008 at 7:51 am

While rejoicing for Patty, I am shaking my head over some of the choices of words:
“they felt like it was the only answer for me to have a normal life and being in the hearing world with my family.”
“They did not have any programs for the hearing impaired or disabled.”

Patty, to work with the deaf as you have stated is a goal of yours, you will need to step away from language that describes deaf people as disabled, impaired, unable to live a normal life, etc. Parents do not need such language either, but need to see their children as unique, whole and capable just as they are, with or without enhancements.

Culturally Deaf people consider such words as evidence of audism, the attitude that hearing and speaking is superior to being deaf and using a variety of communication methods including sign language.

shel

April 12, 2008 at 12:20 pm

I agree with Dianrez…those choice of words may porttray Patty as audist and offend a lot of Deaf people who dont see themselves that way and have been trying to fight for decades to elimate those misconceptions.

Many Deaf people were able to accomplish so much without CIs. To say that it is cuz of her CI, she was able to accomplish anything just continues to spread the myth that Deaf people need to hear in order to accomplish anything. It is a misconception.

I am happy for Patty but she needs to change her views if she wants to work with parents of deaf children. We dont need more specialists telling parents that their children wont be successful without CIs.

Rachel

April 12, 2008 at 12:46 pm

Patty has clearly said that she has never met any deaf people, including deaf ASL users – “I have never been around deaf people except for the two summers I spent at summer camp up at Clarke School in Massachusetts.”

Thus, she only understands the meaning of being deaf when she turns off her processors.

shel

April 12, 2008 at 12:58 pm

Rachel,

How would you feel if Deaf people who dont have CIs make false allegations about other deaf people with CIs? How would you feel if Deaf people tell the media that CIs damage people’s facial nerves, give them headaches, cause infections, and so forth when it isnt true for all CI users?

You wouldnt like it wouldnt you and you would speak up, right?

That is what I am doing. I dont like that comment “I consider myself as a hearing person because of all the things I do.” It is giving the implication that only hearing people can graduate from college, get a career, interact with hearing people, and so forth. It is extremely misleading. For that, I am speaking up cuz I am a deaf person without a CI and I was able to do what she has done.

She did all these things because of the support system and her own determination. Deafness has nothing to do with it as there are so many other deaf people who can do the same whether they can hear or not.

Rachel

April 12, 2008 at 3:04 pm

Yes, it’s true that deaf people without CIs can still lead a fulfilling life; however, people like Patty and me have reasons to have CIs which is to make our own lives easier. We’re here to advocate for the benefits of CIs.

Deaf Person

April 18, 2008 at 8:37 pm

Rachel,
Yes, it is true that many deaf people without CIs can lead a fulfilling life. As for me, I would like for my son to have the best of both worlds and take advantages of more opportunties with the ability of speaking and hearing with the available technology.

Rachel

April 19, 2008 at 12:44 am

Deaf Person,

I’m glad to hear that you understand the purposes of cochlear implant. From reading your comments under Elizabeth’s post, I see that you’re doing the best of the best as a deaf parent to raise your son to have best of both worlds. Your son is very lucky to have you as a parent. I’m looking forward to hearing your son’s progress as he grows.