Hey guys! Today I wanted to share an interesting fact about myself that only 60,000 people a year in the United States possess.
I remember driving home one day with my dad, asking him about the days spent in the hospital as a child.
It wasn’t until my high school years that I fully understood my condition.
My mom started realizing around 2 or 3 that I would favor one ear when talking to family members on the phone. Later, she would quiz me by whispering random words and asking me to repeat them back, confirming her suspicions.
Doctors said the loss of hearing in my left ear, a condition known as same sided deafness (SSD), resulted from birth.
I’m not very scientific so this may be inaccurate, but from my understanding, a blood vessel had somehow curled around and pinched off my hearing nerve.
At 4, I was scheduled for ear surgery at Allegheny General Hospital.
The top ear doctor in Pittsburgh, Dr. Chen, was my surgeon for the operation. On the day of the surgery, Dr.Chen was shocked to find facial nerves blocking his path to my damaged nerve.
The choice became very clear in that moment- paralyze half my face or keep me gorgeous and nonfunctional.
Maybe the header gave it away, but just to make it super clear, they sewed me back up and I was a lost cause.
You may be wondering what it’s like being half deaf, to which I am so very glad that you asked. Hardly any disadvantages actually occur from my disability, but I like to exaggerate for comical effect.
For starters, I say words like “what” and “huh” way too much for the average person and people will joke with me all the time.
Sometimes my friends will blame anything I do wrong on my partial deafness, even if it has nothing to do with my ability to hear. For example:
Me: *falls down the stairs
Friend group: “Guys, she’s deaf.”
They’re so nice to me. My friends also help me out by remembering to walk on my right side. (Hint: If I turn my head completely to the side, 9 times out of 10 its not because I’m thrilled by our talk. I’m just disabled.)
Sometimes my neck will get sore from turning my head at the drive thru or in a passenger seat of a car (true story).
Do you remember those hearing machines they do at school to test students’ hearing? The machines with the ear muffs. The nurse always thought the machine was broken since I didn’t tell her till the end. I don’t know why. I was a weird kid.
Occasionally, I have been known to flat out ignore people talking to me on my left to where they think I’m rude or completely stupid. That’s the worst of it, but it rarely happens.
Also no, I do not get any scholarships for this. They only want full deaf (Oh, I’m sorry I’m not disabled enough).
Despite the set backs, there are some advantages to being half deaf.
For one, it’s a great conversation starter, especially if you tend to over-exaggerate stories like me.
A fun fact about people with SSD – they have a hard time determining the direction of sound. That’s why when I hear my name, I play a quick game of Ring Around the Rosie to find people.
Every so often, people will fight to sit on my good side either at the movies or at sporting events, and I really cherish those moments.
Also, during a thunder storm, I sleep like I drank an entire bottle of NyQuil. I sleep on my right side, so that helps drown out the noise.
Headphones are like a two for one deal. If you own a pair of headphones that are broken on one side, donations are always welcomed (Box 1448).
On a more serious note, my slight disability is something that seems so normal to me that I hardly notice.Even my own parents will forget which ear. I’m that good.
So yes, I still have two visible ears, and yes, I can hear you.