|Produced by Alba Gallo.|
I was born with a degenerative hearing impairment: Nerve endings that never fully developed that in the beginning affected only high pitched frequency sounds. I never heard things like birds, crickets, anything with a high pitch. But the problem was progressive and by the age of 22 I was wearing hearing aids in both ears. Today 75-80% of my communication is through lip reading.
I was not aware that I even had a problem hearing until my mid teens, but looking back I realize now that I struggled with it from the beginning and it added to insecurities that I developed early on as a child. However there was never any emphasis directed at the challenge and I never thought of myself as being disabled. I navigated through the hearing world with my invisible challenge and for the most part many were totally unaware of my deafness. I excelled in school, went to college, built a career, moving to upper management quickly and raised my children as a single parent for the better part of their lives.
As the deafness became more profound it became necessary for me to stop ignoring the challenge because, at times, it placed me in compromising positions that were a danger to me. So I made the decision to be paired with a service dog. He has been an amazing and intricate part of my journey out of the shadows. The attention he has drawn has in many ways been a relief as well as an eye opener for me. A relief in that I don’t have to figure out a way to break the ice by announcing I’m deaf; an eye opener because I had to accept my own reality and be ok with it. I am not disabled, I’m simply abled differently in some ways, but still very able! I never let my deafness hold me back but I never accepted it either because I didn’t want it to seem like a crutch. I thought ignoring the obvious would make the challenge non-existent. I’ve learned to embrace my uniqueness and now I am on a mission to share that with others. We are all challenged in one way or another and it is not the challenge that defines us but how we handle it.
My journey has taken me down a new path. I have redefined my business, written a book and most importantly added purpose to my life. My goal is to establish “Heaven’s Houses”, a non-profit organization made up of a series of houses for the benefit of those that can’t help themselves. The first of these houses, “Trent’s House” will be an adult daycare for persons with special needs, to open in early 2014. Some days I have no idea where my road is leading but I walk it with faith that it leads me to a bigger purpose far beyond my imagination. I urge you, if you are not embracing all that you are and all that you can be to make the move to live a life of purpose.
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