April 27th was a game changer day for me. I knew it would. On the surface, it looks like his two-month countdown to something almost magical, but in reality, it was something I’d been waiting for decades. I would like to share that joy and gratitude with you.
I was born with two inner ears and only one outer ear. On the left is a typical ear that I hear. My right ear isn’t pierced, so I never heard.
During surgery about a week ago, a small anchor was implanted on the right side of my head, near my inner ear. At that point, I put on an external hearing aid that connects to a new internal anchor in my head, and for the first time, I hear from the right side!
It will be a big change. But a lot of science has changed since I was a kid. People born with only one external ear are still rare, but today’s surgeons use the external ear of a cadaver or use a prosthesis that can be surgically installed to create the typical external ear appearance. I can. Prostheses do not hear, but look like normal ears. For a child, it is a great gift not to constantly hear the question “What happened to your ears?”
My parents didn’t want me to ask that question. So at the age of 4, using the only surgery available at the time, I started the process of creating ear shells to look like any other child.
From the age of 4 until the age of 16, each Christmas time and sometimes during the summer holidays, I had surgery to sculpt additional cartilage from other parts of my body to the right side of my head to shape my outer ear. I had a total of 14 surgeries. The results were fair, but not great. As my middle school lab partner put it, “What happened to your ear? It looks like it got run over by a lawnmower.”
Hearing on one side only means you hear a lot but not everything. In an average conversation, you can usually hear about 7 out of 10 words clearly. However, I have learned to read lips and can usually make out most of the words I miss. I learned to adapt by solving word puzzles quickly.
I could listen to music on the radio and hear the sounds of musical instruments, but I could not hear many words. I can and do say hello to just about anyone I see on the street. But as they pass me, I can barely hear them say hello back.
You can hear birds chirping, but not flapping their wings. You can hear children playing, but you cannot hear their individual words or laughter. It seems like music is what children are playing, but until now it was music without words. All that is about to change.
When I learned that this surgery was possible, I jumped at the opportunity. I have long accepted that the outer ear shell I have changes my appearance. But for me it’s not a big deal. The look of my right ear has been a non-issue since the day I decided it wasn’t.
It’s amazing how many of us tend to think too much about our appearance. But if we feel beautiful, the world sees us as beautiful. can’t believe it? Give it a try. you will be amazed.
I am completely satisfied with the way my right ear looks, but I have never been satisfied with my hearing loss. As my bones grow around that new anchor, I am so grateful for hearing.
But if I had the choice of being born with binaural hearing or having to struggle and struggle to hear well for the rest of my life, I would probably be born and struggle exactly like myself. would choose Hear what I’ve been given
I work as the principal of a therapy day school for children and young people with autism and intellectual disabilities. Because of my limited hearing, I was able to gain a deeper understanding of non-verbal communication. It’s more than empathy. It is true communication and a gift that I will always be grateful for.
It will be interesting to see how my brain processes it until I can hear it for the first time on a typical level. I think it can be overwhelming at times. But it feels overwhelming.
Having two working ears allows us to better hear the voices of those in need. The call to acceptance from those who have been misunderstood will often be heard. You will be better able to hear the call of love from your students and their families. I will hear more and more the calls for justice, equality, and acceptance for all.
A gift that I was determined not to waste.
I thought this surgery would bring back bad memories of the 14 surgeries I had when I was growing up. Where there is true gratitude, there is no room for bad memories. There is no room to think about what happened. No more wasted time.
Once we are able to feel true and complete gratitude, all that remains for us is to move forward with happiness, dignity and gratitude as we begin a new day.
Phil Siegel is the principal. He has worked as a writer for children’s television shows and as a game and toy designer. He and his wife, their children, and their children’s grandparents and great-grandparents all grew up in Chicago.
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