Hearing loss has given my life a twist that makes things a bit more interesting. There have been many theories over the course of my life as to why I was born with hearing loss into a family with no history of it. The most creative hypothesis, in my opinion, comes from a psychic who once told my mother that my hearing loss was the result of my own arrogance in another life. Supposedly, I had it a bit too easy back then, took advantage of other people, and now my soul is paying a karmic debt. I can only imagine God negotiating with my soul before I was born. The conversation might have gone something like this….
GOD: “You need to pay retribution for being conceited in your previous life. What’s it going to be?”
He slides over a tablet with a menu of human attributes. My soul reluctantly takes the stone slab and silently mulls over the options. Hmmm. A loving family and good friends – we want that one. A sense of humor – that has got to stay. Decent looks and a brain – need that. All five senses intact – well, that could be something. My soul looks up, squints at the sun glancing off of God’s blindingly white gown. Then….
SOUL to GOD: “She needs to be able to see because she loves nature too much. Touch, taste, and smell are essential to survival. What about hearing? We could compromise on that one. However, can she at least keep her athletic prowess to protect her self-confidence? She may have been arrogant, but she did have a good heart…?”
God strokes his long, white beard in contemplation. Then he leans forward in his chair and agrees to this negotiation with a pious nod of his head.
And so, here I am in this life with a profound hearing loss.
Imagination aside, I may not know what my limited hearing has caused me to miss, but living with hearing loss has certainly added some color to my life (and face at times). It is both my Achilles heel and my refuge. Many people pay a lot of money to escape to a place that is quiet enough to hear themselves think. Me? I just turn off my ears.
While being able to tap into complete silence whenever I want to is comforting and a nice benefit, I believe the ability to communicate is essential to success in today’s competitive world. I am grateful for the early identification of my hearing loss, access to hearing aids, and the early intervention that I received. This trifecta shifted the odds in my favor and fostered my listening and spoken language skills. I know that I would not be where I am today if I had not had that support in my earliest years. This is what drives my passion for the Global Foundation For Children With Hearing Loss.
I have come full circle. I am wiser for the experience of living with hearing loss and I know the challenges that children growing up with hearing loss behind me face. On one hand we have seen amazing advances in early intervention and hearing technology since the time when I was young. And yet, on the other hand, these advances are not easily accessible for far too many of the world’s children. My wish is that every child with a hearing loss have the appropriate technology, education, and resources they need so they can grow up and reach their full potential – no matter where in the world they live. We need to tip the scales.
— Paige Stringer, Founder and Executive Director, Global Foundation For Children With Hearing Loss