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Why I Decided to Stop Hiding My Hearing Aids

Hiding My Hearing Aids No More

The shame.

Growing up hard of hearing was not a comfortable experience for me. I received my first hearing aid at the age of nine. I hid it every chance I could get. I was painfully aware that I was different, and the contraption sitting on my ear was a constant reminder that I stood out. I became the “Queen of Bluffing,” as I attempted to navigate fast-moving conversations that I couldn’t follow. 

Fast forward to today, I no longer hide. 

I now own the most colorful hearing aids I could put together. They’re royal blue, aqua blue, and raspberry-colored, plus a swirl of colors in the earmolds. I happily wear my hair up or pushed back over my ears to show off my hearing aids everyday. 

How did this happen? 

One morning, I was lying in bed in my college dorm room reflecting on my life. I had just become deaf from a fall while barefoot water skiing. Every day was a struggle. I struggled in my classes, vainly trying to lipread moving professors while studying from books and notes. My social life was uncomfortable as I was surrounded by people using sign language and I didn’t know a single sign.  I could no longer hear anything without the dreaded hearing aid. I now had to wear it 24/7. 

I was completely miserable. 

Then, I had an epiphany. I had choices. Two, in fact.  I could continue to struggle, cry, and moan about my life, hiding my hearing aid…or I could choose to embrace the new path and become the best possible “deaf person” I could be. 

That simple decision lead to a complete change of heart. 

When I got out of bed that morning, I was a new woman. I pulled my hair into a pony tail and slapped on the hearing aid. For the first time, I was stepping out into public with my hearing aid on display. 

I had never done that before. 

Immediately, the shame enveloped me again, but I was determined to plow through it. I could feel some stares. Or maybe I just imagined it. I don’t know. Either way, I was forced to deal with it. To learn a new way of being, a new way of living. It was the process of being authentically ME. Hearing aid and all. 

So today, I put my hearing aids on each morning and I love the stares I get. I’m wearing some beautiful pieces of art on my ears, art which houses some of the most advanced technology in hearing aids today. A click of the button, and I can dim the background noise. Another button lets music flow in with a wide range of sound. Yet another button syncs with a Roger Pen and pushes sound directly into my ears.

And then there’s the mute button–the one button that people with normal hearing become insanely jealous of…especially when a kid on the airplane starts crying. 

Karen Putz
Karen was born with normal hearing and became hard of hearing after a bout of illness in elementary school. At the age of 19, she tripped over a wake while barefoot water skiing and cartwheeled into the water. She thought she merely had water in her ears, but being deaf was here to stay, thanks to a wacky gene in her family. Becoming deaf turned out to be a blessing; after she dried the tears, Karen decided to embrace life and a whole new world opened up.

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