Walk4Hearing Featured Walker
Journey to Hearing Loss
By Sendie Vang
March 2012. I’m sitting on the children hospital chair crying… no actually, I’m sobbing – silently, sitting next to my husband. Our ENT specialist has just informed us that our 18-month-old daughter, Kalia, has moderate hearing loss that is progressive and eventually she will be profoundly deaf.
I have the experience of her life flashing before my eyes, or some possible version of her future life. It seems like many of the dreams that I have for my child just got erased. All this time, she’s never heard me read her a good night story; never heard me sing her to sleep. I watched her playing with her big sister in the hospital waiting room, following her every step of the way while glancing at us. I saw her laughing, giggling, like nothing had happened. Then I tried to imagine Kalia’s perspective: a safe, happy life, surrounded by people who love her. I realize that for Kalia, nothing is wrong. Nothing has changed. Her dreams weren’t lost. She may not have even liked the dreams I had for her.
We make the choice to adopt Kalia’s perspective: We learned American Sign Language - all four of us. We also opted for cochlear implants in the hope that the technology would help. We have had some bumps on the road; speech therapy at the beginning was not as easy as we thought it would be, finding the right school turned out to be a challenge, medical bills for those tests and surgery keep on mounting… the list goes on and on…
As we go on, Kalia’s deafness in some ways turned out to be a gift through her. We have learned this new beautiful language of ASL, and we have met many wonderful people through the CO Deaf community that have opened their arms to us. We also met our second family at Rocky Mountain Deaf School. For that I’m so blessed. And now I'm a part of HLAA through the Walk4Hearing.
In addition to being a mom to a deaf child, I’m also quietly dealing with my own hearing loss. I have noticed how I began to lose my hearing gradually around 15 years ago. At that time, I was in my mid-twenties and had just moved to the US. I would make excuses for myself in my head, “I just don’t understand their English, this is all new to me… or they speak way too low”. Then I started making jokes about my selective hearing, but I still didn’t want to officially have them tested.
Then I knew I couldn’t just keep on ignoring it. In my current professional world, I can’t keep making excuses. My colleagues are very understanding and accommodating but for how long? My tinnitus is getting worse and how silly is it to be afraid of facing the reality of hearing loss when I'm the mom of a deaf child?
So I contacted an audiologist and explained to her my situation, we made an appointment. It was then confirmed that I do have hearing loss in both of my ears. In some areas my loss is actually severe. The more I talked to her, the more I realized how ignoring it is not healthy for me.
Last week, I was fitting for my hearing aid. It was definitely an experience I can’t explain. I can hear the sound of my hair, the winds while I'm driving, and some other noises I could barely hear before! Listening through my hearing aid definitely gives me more empathy towards Kalia and helps me to understand her situation better.
I have been walking in the Colorado Walk4Hearing for Kalia and I have been advocating for her. This year will be extra special for us because I will be proudly walking alongside her for both Kalia and I and other people with hearing loss as well.
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