I was born deaf, but I wasn’t diagnosed until the age of four because I was developmentally on time. For about nine years after my diagnosis, I wore hearing aids. Every three years or so, we would upgrade to the latest hearing technology. However, when I reached the 8th grade, my hearing aids weren’t working for me anymore, so we consulted with an audiologist and surgeon at my local children’s hospital. We had three options. We could upgrade to the strongest hearing aids on the market at the time to see if they helped me. We could go through the candidacy process for me to receive cochlear implants, or I could choose to communicate with American Sign Language. My family and I opted for the most conservative option that was to upgrade my hearing aids.
Unfortunately, the most powerful hearing aids on the market in 2010 couldn’t give me any viable hearing. I was the perfect candidate to undergo cochlear implantation, so in May and August of 2010, I had bilateral cochlear implants placed. The implants worked wonderfully and with intense therapy, I successfully learned to hear. Having the cochlear implants made high school so much easier. I breezed through most of high school, enjoying basketball, student government, lectoring at Masses, and leading school service organizations
One of my favorite history, psychology, and sociology teachers, Mr. B, had a significant hearing loss. He wore two hearing aids, and they were obviously quite old. Over the years, I noticed his hearing was getting worse. In April of my senior year, the bell had just rung, and Mr. B pulled me aside and said that his hearing was getting worse. Getting new and more powerful hearing aids would be a huge expense on a private school teacher’s salary.
When I got home, I told my mom about the situation and asked if I could give him my “old” powder blue colored ultra-powered hearing aids. After all, they were just sitting in a case collecting dust. She agreed and that night, we sent him an email with the entitled, “Is Blue Your Color?” The next day he responded and said that he would love to try them. The following day, I took them to school, and he found an audiologist who made him some ear molds and programmed them to suit his needs. He loved his new hearing aids and the change in his hearing was so remarkable! Everybody noticed it, and he rocked that powder blue color! My classmates and I no longer had to scream across the room for him to be able to hear us in class. The transformation was absolutely amazing and put a smile on my face every time I saw him.
I gave him the hearing aids in April of my senior year, and I consider that to be my parting gift to him, the faculty and staff at the school, his future students, and everybody who knows and loves him. In giving him my hearing aids, I tried to ensure his future success and access to the world of sound. He loves music, especially The Beatles, and I hope that he gets to enjoy his favorite songs for the rest of his life, with the help of my precious hearing aids.
Mr. B has always inspired me to follow my dreams with his humor and wise advice. I am a sophomore in college studying Emergency Medicine and hoping to go to medical school. I want to be a pediatric cochlear implant surgeon, so I can give other kids the same gift of hearing I have been given. I guess giving Mr. B the hearing aids he needed was my very first step on the journey. It is a small step, but I know it meant the world to him. With the help of his advice and life lessons, I know I can reach my goals. I am forever changed by the valuable and timeless advice he provided me with over my four years of high school.
Since this is the season of giving, I figured I would share the story of one of the best gifts I have ever given a teacher that will last far longer than any card, candy cane, or fruit basket.