Last week I shifted the order of my blogs and posted a writing update because I wanted to share a poem I wrote was published in the online magazine The Giving Room (it’s in issue 1, page 28 that you can view here). So this week I would like to share an essay.
I am participating in a book club that just finished the memoir “Life After Deaf” by Noel Holston. It’s about his experience losing his hearing as an adult and getting a cochlear implant. I personally don’t have and am not a candidate for cochlear implants (since my hearing loss is mainly brain injury related and not a malfunctioning ear system). However I started to attend a hearing loss group about 2 years ago and the book club I started is through that group. So a lot of the members do have cochlear implants and none have hearing loss as complications from a severe Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI), that’s just me.
So when we started reading for the book club the books are (for now) all related to hearing loss or hearing. When I am in a situation with people with hearing loss it feels good because I don’t feel different. Yet, when it comes down to it, my hearing loss being a complication of the brain injury does in fact make me quite different from a lot of the people in my hearing loss group. Because I don’t just have a hearing loss, or distortions or the inability to process music because my TBI affects so much more than hearing (cognitive processing and emotions are big ones). In our book club discussion the author joined us and while I was trying to be a gracious moderator and let those with cochlear implants get to lead the questions, I said “since I don’t have a cochlear implant myself… and my hearing loss isn’t traditional… I would like those with cochlear implants to lead the questions…” The author sweetly interrupted me and reminded me that every hearing loss and experience is different AND VALID! It was kind of a kick in the pants because I had been apologizing for not being like everyone else with hearing loss when just like everything (including brain injury) there isn’t one set way people experience and live with hearing loss. I am different from others with hearing loss because of my brain injury. My brain injury definitely makes things more complicated. Yet I don’t know why I felt the need to apologize for being different because of it. It was a weird moment for me to realize that apologizing for brain injury making me different didn’t actually make me more polite!