Walk4Hearing Featured Walker
My Hearing Story and the HLAA
By Tim Boyd
On April 25th of 2011, I contracted bacterial meningitis and was hospitalized for six weeks. Early on in my recovery, it was apparent that I had lost 100% of my hearing in both of my ears as a result of the meningitis. I was very fortunate to receive wonderful care at both WakeMed and UNC Hospitals here in North Carolina, which literally saved my life.
For 35 years I had been a hearing individual, with little understanding of the challenges that exist for the HOH community. I was thrust immediately into the isolation that comes with profound hearing loss. On top of facing a long physical rehabilitation to regain my ability to walk, my family was now facing the devastation of our lives being forever changed.
With severe damage to my cochlea, doctors were concerned that the window to restore any of my hearing was closing quickly. Within a two week timeframe, I was fortunate to be bi-laterally implanted with cochlear implants. As a result, my hearing has been partially restored; a gift that is priceless to me and my family. It has been a long road of rehabilitation but with help of wonderful friends, family, and my employer, my family and I have slowly returned to enjoying life. I have been back to work for over a year now and every day we move forward in rebuilding our new normal. Missy, Hayden (7), Maddie (5), and I are very thankful for what we have and to those who have helped us overcome these difficult challenges.
In addition to friends and family, the Hearing Loss Association of America (HLAA) has become an indispensable group in my life. The HLAA’s dedication to providing assistance and resources to people with hearing loss, and to helping them and their families learn how to adjust to living with hearing loss, has been a cornerstone to my successful return to the hearing world.
The regional HLAA group here in North Carolina continues to be a valuable resource to me. The people I’ve met and the connections I’ve made have helped me gain greater perspective on my future with hearing loss. As a result of these special friendships, I have been able to overcome grief, understand that I am not alone in this journey, and access abundant resources, making the hearing world more accessible.
One day, I came across one of Helen Keller’s quotes, “Blindness separates people from things; deafness separates people from people,” and I thought “Yep, that’s right. That is exactly how it feels.” Then, one special day, Joyce Adler told me about Walk4Hearing. We talked about how all the funds raised go to programs and services for people with hearing loss, as well as to increase public awareness of the more than 36 Million people with hearing loss.
We talked about the uplifting environment and the feeling of family. We talked about teams and captains and logistics. Then, she asked if I was going to participate. I said, “Sure, I’ll be on your team. No problem.”
She turned and said, “No, you need your own team. You need to do this for you, so you remember what you’re capable of.”
At that moment, I realized the Walk4Hearing’s true purpose is to connect people to people, very much contrary to the quote I had hung my hat on. I thought to myself, “Joyce is right. I am going to be the best at something again.”
I left that lunch invigorated and challenged. I wrote out my story, explained the importance of the HLAA and Walk4Hearing and went to work raising awareness and funds. I sent my message to friends, family, and co-workers many of who hadn’t really understood that nature or cause of my hearing loss. So many of them wrote back in support, gave me more information on people and resources they knew, told me stories of how hearing loss had affected their families, and donated with their hearts.
$4,075.00 later, I was the top fundraiser for the 2012 Walk4Hearing in North Carolina. Because of the Walk4Hearing I found myself right in the center of connecting people to people, standing proud with my family, surrounded by friends, and celebrating being the best at something again.
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