Being Fixed vs Staying Deaf Part 2

I’m sure most of you remember the uproar over the article that emerged on the discrimination and myths heaped on the actress Emily Howlett.  If you don’t, maybe you need to read part one.  The uproar occurred at this article.

As you can see in the comment section, people who are hearing with no knowledge of how cochlear implants truly work are debating over whether or not deaf people should be forced to get a surgery.  People who do not understand hearing loss, or even has perception of struggling with deaf parents, cannot view through lens that has already been colored by their own judgment.

This 2nd part will continue to address the basic myths from which most false argument spring.  My hope is that implanted people reading this will not feel they made the wrong choice, but rather that they did make the best choice they could hopefully based on their circumstances and their own needs.  The deaf people reading this, my hope is that you know there is support for you if you choose not to get implanted.  I wrote here that it’s okay.  The hearing people reading this, my hope for you is that you read with an open mind and heart.

Thus, part 2 continues.

4. Cochlear implants are easy fixes for the deaf and hard of hearing.

Here is where you need to understand something about what cochlear implant really is.  The implants work with what is available, not with what is already totally lost.  The wire of the implant is inserted into the cochlea (hence the name), but the cochlea’s job is to stimulate what is there in order to send the messages to the brain.  Therefore, it is not a total recovery of hearing for some people.  Sometimes, there is no recovery.  That’s why there is a lot of testing done on candidates of the surgery.

Second, I mentioned candidacy.  Here’s another thing that will give you a glimpse into why cochlear implants are not easy fixes.  I went through months of testing in order for them to prove that cochlear implant would truly work for me.  First, I had to have moderate amount of nerves left that could be stimulated.  Second, I had to have moderate amount of speech capabilities.  Third, I had to have a deep support base with family and friends who are willing to help me through recovery.  Sometimes, many candidates were refused.  That’s why I’m shocked at the new wave of audiologists insisting, in getting their payment due, that every single deaf people should get their cochlear implant, along with the new wave of insurance companies declining those who did not get the surgery.

Third, finally, there are tons and tons of work to do AFTER the implants.  This is actually a lifetime’s work for many.  My brain is not fully capable of interpreting certain sounds, therefore I still struggle to this day to hear.  My anxiety increases at the expectation that I hear everything due to “my easy fix”.  I am drained by the end of the day at the effort to hear everything.  This is the case for many older people who are implanted.

No, it is not an easy fix! Get that notion out of your head instantly.

5.  Those who reject it should not receive benefits.

This statement is apparently a very large blanket.  A group of people will say this is meant for people who is able to get implants but reject it entirely based on their culture.  Another group of people will say this is meant for all deaf people who should get the implant, regardless of their circumstances.

This particular comment jumped out at me the most:

Those who reject it also shouldn’t be given any more assistance on the NHS or via any benefits. You can’t choose to remain disabled when you don’t have to be and yest still get the same level of support as others that don’t have that choice. They very much should be judged on their choice and quite harshly I think.

I think you can see which part of the blanket statement this falls under.  It isn’t a matter of choosing whether or not they are disabled.  There should always be a high level of support for everyone in the choices they make that they deem BEST for themselves.  You cannot know what they went through, you cannot fully fathom what their ‘disability’ is much less make a statement: “When you don’t have to be”.

Further, there is a high risk associated with receiving implants that makes it very easy for people to reject it based on their own concerns, life, circumstances, and fears.  You cannot know what their fears are, much less take away their support.

In spite of all that, please tell me what Freedom of Choice means.  I am at a loss about adequately expressing my disbelief in people believing they have the right to pontificate on a subject they know very little about, and then be in favor of eradicating their freedom of choice along with support.  So, I will leave this as it is.

ETA: A relative brought this to my attention.  It is backwards to believe that people who are ‘fixed’ should receive benefits and people who are not should not receive benefits.  If they are so fixed, what use is there for benefits?

6. Deaf people are being willfully ignorant on refusing cochlear implants for culture purposes alone.

I will admit openly to not understanding the deaf culture.  In the same vein, I am not opposed to deaf culture just because I lived as hearing and chose to be hearing.  This is where open heart comes in; accepting people of all stripes and dots.

Deaf culture is intricate.  They found their roots in it; their sense of security, people who understand each other, communicate to each other.  Believe me when I say that many are fully aware of what cochlear implant is.  There is no ignorance when their quality of life is high.

Becoming implanted for those so immersed in that culture means struggling to understand (for recovery is never 100% guaranteed), struggling to communicate, and finding themselves smack dab in the middle of both cultures.  You see, hearing culture, I know from experience, do not fully embrace or acknowledge those who do not hear as much as they do.  It’s all a matter of perception for both worlds.

There is a lot of fear in being shunned and being stuck within two worlds.  It’s not about choosing between disabilities left and right, it’s not about choosing whether or not to have one.  Disability is a moot point here; disability always exists and the language should change in favor of ABILITY.  What their abilities are!

7. Choosing to remain deaf is like choosing to not have treatment for cancer.  Other variations: People who cannot walk chooses not to have wheelchair, people who must wear glasses in order to drive, etc.

This one is simple, so I will make it simple for you.

  • Deafness is not a life-threatening disease.
  • Deafness does not take away from ability to walk, drive, and live.
  • Deafness is not contagious.
  • Deafness is not a choice for many.  It simply is.
  • Deafness is merely a loss in hearing, not a loss in abilities or living.
  • There are far more other choices in enhancing one’s life than simply cochlear implant.

In the end, the question of whether to be ‘fixed’ or to stay deaf is not up to those who do not have to worry about it.  The question can also be better phrased this way: Whether to have an invasive surgery to hear or whether to simply continue to be as they are.  And that is better left to those who are capable of making the choices themselves.

Thank you for reading.  Have a nice day.  If you have any questions, concerns, or comments about this series, please comment below.  Understand that I will not accept verbal attacks or insults.

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5 thoughts on “Being Fixed vs Staying Deaf Part 2

  1. Pingback: Being Fixed vs Staying Deaf | Heart to Ear

  2. I understand that this is a hot topic in the deaf community and I applaud you for writing about it. A friend of mine who is deaf has a deaf son and we have talked about it at great length. My whole family is hearing, but we know sign language and if we had a deaf child I would not do the implant, but I respect the rights of a family who does go that route. Just like how some parents get their daughter’s ears pierced or get plastic surgery to remedy ears that stick out oddly. Why criticize one and not the others? I understand the desire to hear and yet there is such a beauty in the deaf culture. Again..a hot topic..and yet a very personal decision for a family.

    • Exactly. 🙂 You wrote that so eloquently for a short comment! However, I don’t compare the choice of hearing to piercings or cosmetic surgeries. But I do understand why you made the comparison and what you mean. Thank you!

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