Hello, my name is Annie. I am a young adult from Columbus, Ohio who has moderate to severe hearing loss. I was diagnosed when I was two years old, thanks to my mom. She was the first person to notice there was something wrong with my ears when I was just a baby. Because of her attention to detail and persistence she was able to get me the help I needed and has been with me every step of my hearing loss journey.
My twin sister Megan and I were born early one morning in June. Other than making an early debut into the world and arriving a few weeks before the doctors and my parents had originally planned we were both perfectly healthy. This was a huge relief to my family as my parents had wanted to start a family for years, but there had always been complications. Overjoyed (and probably honestly a little overwhelmed) my parents brought my sister and I home from the hospital.
Around the time we turned one year old, my mom started noticing differences between my sister and I. For example, when the television was on my sister would dance and clap with the characters on the screen while I merely sat and watched. My mother found this odd and began to wonder if something may be wrong with my ears.
One day my mom walked into my room to wake me up from a nap. I must have woken up earlier as I was standing in my crib looking through the window. Since I did not see her, my mom thought this would be the perfect opportunity to test my ears. As she stood in the doorway she did a soft clap to get my attention. I continued to gaze out the window, un-startled, and obviously oblivious that she was in my room. She clapped again, louder, but still I did not respond. She clapped again, but louder and immediately this caught my attention. I jumped and turned to see her standing in the doorway. Excitedly, I cried out to her. After this, my mom decided it was time to schedule an appointment to talk to my pediatrician about my ears.
Our pediatrician did not share my mom’s concerns. She told my mom that the issue may be developmental and probably was not related to my ears at all. She assured my mom that my sister and I were growing at different rates and explained that it was normal for twins to develop along different timelines. In fact, it was perfectly normal for twins to reach milestones at different times. Unconvinced and determined to get answers my mom decided that she was going to get my ears checked professionally, even without my doctor’s recommendation.
Legislation requires all babies to have a hearing evaluation prior to discharge from the hospital in the United States. However, I was born before this law went into effect. When I was born, babies were only tested if hearing impairment ran in their family. Since we do not have a family history, my sister and I were not tested. So after the pediatrician appointment my mom scheduled our first hearing tests.
My First Audiogram
Megan, my twin, went first. Both her and my mom went into a dark sound booth. She sat on my mom’s lap while they fed a series of beeping noises into the booth, some loud and some very soft. When Megan heard the beep she looked at a toy monkey in the booth. It would light up and play the cymbals. These beeps continued until the test was complete. I was next. Just like my sister I sat on my mom’s lap. The audiologist played the first beep. And I just sat there. The beep became louder but I continued to sit patiently on my mom’s lap. Then the beep grew even louder, and then I finally looked at the monkey. My mom didn’t even need them to finish the test. This had just confirmed what she knew to be true all along.
The audiologist escorted my mother to a room and then informed her that I did indeed have a moderate to severe hearing impairment and referred me to an Ear, Nose, and Throat (ENT) Doctor for further testing. I was later fitted with my first pair of hearing aids at the age of two years old.I’ve come a long way since then. I have been through grade school, graduated college, and now I am a pediatric nurse.
Thank You Mom
Lastly, Mother’s Day is coming soon and I want to share a special thank you to my own mom. Thank you for always supporting me throughout my hearing loss journey and helping me to become the person I am today. Whenever I reflect on this story I am so inspired by your determination. I want to give special recognition to all moms that raise children with hearing disabilities. Thanks for not only loving us, but for stepping in and being our biggest supporters and advocates!
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