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.

Being Fixed vs Staying Deaf

ear deaf readers, does that title above anger you? Dear cochlear implant readers, does that title above confuse you?  And dear hearing, do you feel either neutral or un-sympathetic?

Let me be clear here.  I believe that using the words ‘Fixed’ and ‘Staying deaf’ are horrible words to use about both implanted and deaf communities.  That should never have been a question, let alone phrased in such a manner.  This post is a reaction to the article Not all deaf people want to be ‘fixed’.

First, the author did a good job bringing home the fact that implants are not easy “fixes”, as well as the fact that neither groups are better or wrong than the other.  What is riling me up is the report of audiologists’ ignorance (which I have personally bore the brunt of), as well as rude comments piling up on each other after the article.

Second, Heart to Ear addresses the need for all types of language, an understanding that cochlear implants are not quick fixes, and allowing all groups to make their own decisions in the matter.  You will see glimpses of that in this post, while I respond to each issues brought up in the aforementioned article.

Here we go.

1. If you do not get a cochlear implant, you will fall into the deaf society.

When I first heard this argument, my jaw dropped.  Really?  This negative denigration of the deaf community is very unnecessary.  The implication here is that deaf community will cause your IQ to drop, your ability to speak vanish, and your capabilities in the “real world” next to zero.  All untrue, it’s so false that it’s almost laughable.

Getting a cochlear implant or not should *not* hinge on whether or not you will become a particular part of the community.  It should hinge on whether it’s right or wrong for YOU and you, alone.  If people do not accept your choices, they are the ones you should not ‘fall in with’.  You can inform them, but if they choose to not try to understand or accept you, that is their loss alone.

2. Deaf people are broken and disillusioned.  Other variations: Deaf people are dumb, deaf people force their hearing children to not speak, deaf people are not functional members of society.

Deaf people are incredibly resilient — they have spent decades adapting to a lack of hearing.  A lack of hearing does not cause them to be unable to do anything.  They still have the drive and passion for life.  They still have a brain residing in their complex skulls.  They still have emotions that all of us are learning to deal with on a daily basis, even as adults.  Telling them any variation of #2 is telling them their life is useless.

Tell that to Keith Wann, who is a fantastic CODA comedian.  Tell that to the deaf actress, Emily Howlett, who is very successful at what she does.  Tell that to the hundreds of deaf people who are good at what they do.  Tell that to Helen Keller, if she were alive, that the way she changed the world was in vain.  Tell that to me, who has lived for 14 years deaf and struggled with identity.  Any of them, any of us, will tell you, “Screw you”.

3. Don’t continue to learn sign language because your lip reading skills will disappear, your ability to speak will fade away, you will alienate friends and family, etc. 

Sign language, for me, was and remains one of the many language tools I had at my disposal.  What people need to understand is that we all use whatever tools we have to communicate.  Communication is on the list of top priorities of any social beings.

Sign language came along with lip reading.  I continued to lip read and I still do, in addition to struggling to hear with my cochlear implant.  Some days, I do not hear as well with the cochlear implant.  Other days, I am blessed to catch word after word.

I continue to use my voice.  I enjoyed the feeling of vibration in my throat, long before I was able to hear my own voice as clearly as I do now.

My friends and family were eager to learn sign language, as well as enjoying conversation with me face to face verbally.  None of this alienated them.  However, there are trepidation on the side of hearing people to approach deaf people for fear that communication between the two would never work out comfortably.  But the first step into attempting to communicate usually result in new friendships being formed and understanding that both worlds always learn new ways to communicate, especially via technology.  That’s the fun part!

And guess what? As a cochlear implanted individual, I still struggle daily on communication as much as deaf people do!  So, please, realize that everyone has different degrees of struggle, no matter what the ‘disability’ or how ‘fixed’ someone is.

Part 2 here!

{You can also enjoy this article from hubpages.  Link Below.}

If You Don’t Want Cochlear Implant, That’s Okay.

Excerpt:

Spouting the myths above makes both the implanted and the hearing people look very bad. It’s oppressive to the deaf people and it is very ignorant. I know that as an implanted individual, I am literally ears-burning-red ashamed of what has been done to Emily Howlett, as well as the cruel people bashing the deaf culture as a whole. It’s time to stop, now.