A Twist of Fate – Why I decided to get a C.I.

First off, some background information. Over the past 5 or 6 years, you would be hard pressed to find someone more resistant to the idea of getting an implant than I. Inevitably, if you ended up at my family’s home for dinner, the topic of me getting an implant would come up. My mother has championed the idea ever since beginning her work with implanted children over at Hear in NH. If you’ve met the kids there its hard not to see why. However, the conversations were always dismissed with as much enthusiasm as they were brought up with. I can be incredibly stubborn in my refusal to entertain things.

So naturally one of the more popular questions I’m asked it, why did you decide to get one?

The easy answer is I’m not really 100% sure, the accurate and quick answer is that it really is the combination of an entire spectrum of emotions ranging from hope to courage to fear and insecurity.

There’s no easy way to explain the process of thought that goes into a decision like this, I’m going to attempt to break this up into 3 parts, why I didn’t want an implant, why I did want one and the reason I went ahead and got one.

1) Fear of….change, hating it, anything going wrong, how I’ll look with a wire on my head… the list goes on. That nagging little depressant that lives in the back of your mind whispering “who can say that you aren’t perfect just the way you are…and why are so many people so eager to see you change?” Even someone as optimistic as I am has a hard time keeping from wondering, if I’m just not good enough the way I am. It’s a terrible light to bask in, though hard to avoid completely when getting lost in the depths of yourself.

Decisions as…final as this, naturally induce fear. The thing about fear is that you have to accept it as a part of yourself, not attempt to banish or ignore it but befriend and understand it. Fully knowing why it exists is one of the only ways past it.

2) Sometime shortly after deciding to get the implant I said to my brother ” I’m really only doing this because it could help me hear better…” Anyone who knows my brother can imagine the sarcastic remark this earned. But it’s true, the only real reason that I wanted this came from the fact that no matter which way I looked at the situation, one thing remained consistent…that I wasn’t completely happy with my hearing. Comfortable maybe, who wouldn’t be after 20 years of hearing things a certain way. Comfort can be dangerously complacent. We all have to grow, and we all should push ourselves even when we aren’t sure.

3) There are two things that led to my decision, the first you’ve probably heard of. I don’t know that there has ever been a person that I feel so inclined to catch every word from, as my nephew Isaac. The light that he sees me in is very humbling…he’ll follow me around, repeat what I say and generally imitate whatever possible. It’s hard to explain, I guess the easiest way to say it is that I hate not knowing what my nephew says.

The other reason is that, somewhere along the line of my assimilation into the Deaf culture at RIT, I became comfortable with the idea of being deaf. It’s a little scary I’ll admit, having been “hearing” for most of my life but straddling the line between hearing and deaf worlds can be a lonely place to live.

I read a book before getting implanted, called “Rebuilt” by Michael Chorost. He talks about how hearing or the lack thereof is one of the most isolating disabilities you can have. And he’s right, the first two chapters of that book I would recommend to every person, Hearing or Deaf. Being cut off from the noise around you…the conversations that everyone else in the room follows effortlessly. It sucks…lonely and sometimes depressing, but you push through it, you make friends who know how to talk to you and if you’re lucky, you have an amazingly loving family like I do.

Getting involved in Deaf culture and eventually being with a group of friends that I felt a perfect part of, made me realize that I owe it to myself to go for it. Even if I hate it, or it doesn’t work…there’s a place for me and friends that I won’t miss a beat with.

So I went for it.