I'm taking a trip (hooray!)! Here are a few details...and a request for help.
In mid-April, I'll be going to Tampa, Florida (with a side trip to Tallahassee to see one of my favorite bloggers and hopefully I'll also get to see Susan while I'm there!!) . In Tampa, I'll be participating in the Walk4Hearing, a fund-raiser to support the Hearing Loss Association of America.
If you've known me any time at all, you know my story pretty well. I considered myself "hard-of-hearing" for years, despite being profoundly deaf in both ears (completely deaf in one). I tried to pretty much pretend that I was just as normal as the next hearing person...a misguided sense of shame and embarrassment about being different and perhaps somehow not as good as everyone else kept me from accepting the deafness for what it was.
In March of 2006 I started losing the hearing in my good ear...and quickly started scrambling to get my last line of defense in place...my cochlear implant. I had my "bad ear" done in November of 2006, with only moderate success, due to such a long period of deafness. In March of 2007, I was sitting in church one Sunday morning and heard a pop...and suddenly, I was officially, totally, completely deaf. Forget "hard-of-hearing"...to quote my buddy David, this girl was as deaf as a wheel of cheese.
I've been prone to depression for several years now, and that was just about the last straw for me. Around that time I got an e-mail from the Hearing Loss Association touting their convention in Oklahoma City and decided that maybe taking a trip somewhere would do me good, so I asked Laurie to go with me. That convention was literally life-changing...I came home much more confident, more sure of myself, and not only more comfortable with being deaf, but literally, perhaps, blessed by it. I still had terrible, horrible, no good, very bad days when I felt left out of conversations and lonely and stressed...par for the course, of course...but my attitude about myself had changed. I got much more involved with other deaf/hard-of-hearing/CI users, both online and in my area, and have found that helping other people deal with with their hearing loss is something that I love doing more than anything. After getting my second implant in November, and having just amazing results with that one, it energized me even more! :) I love posting on the Advanced Bionics forums and getting to know the prospective CI users and sharing stories with the new implantees and the ones that are still hearing new sounds years later. I don't feel sorry for myself or embarrassed about being deaf anymore...I think that it was something given to me so that I could use it to help other people. That's something I've always wanted to do in some way...and in the past year, I've been able to do that more, I think, than ever before, in any other way. People ask me at work nearly every day about the thing I'm wearing on my ear...it's slightly bigger than a hearing aid, much prettier, and if you look closely, you can see the coil in my hair (you'll be able to see it even better now that I've chopped my hair off!)...and I love telling them about it...most people don't know anything about this technology and they are excited and interested in learning more about it. I've not only come to grips with being deaf, but have finally embraced it...it's part of who I am, and while it has its downsides, I'm not even sure I'd trade it anymore...I've learned to be quite comfortable and happy with who I am.
The Hearing Loss Association brings the deaf and hard of hearing together and helps them to help each other...and themselves. It educates and advocates and inspires. It helps to fight our insurance, telephone, and closed captioning battles....just to name a few. It's a hard-working organization...and I want to get involved! The walk will raise money for the national organization as well as for the Florida group. I chose that one because of its location and because I actually know a few people in that area!! I am hoping that in the next few years Nashville will be able to take on a project like this...but since it's not going to happen this year, I am going to take a little trip for this one :).
I have set a personal goal of raising $500.00. I think that will be fairly easy to do...and I hope to pass that goal as much as possible. I haven't ever asked for money from friends and family before, and I hate doing it, but I know that some of you will help, so here's my request. Go to my personal page here (you can also reach it by clicking on the link in my sidebar) and check out my donation request. I'm tickled pink because I've already gotten my first donation (Thanks, Karyn!!!) and hope to reach my goal in just a matter of days. Would you consider helping out? EVERY LITTLE BIT HELPS!!!!
I think that the web form only accepts credit cards...but if I know you well enough, I'll consider sending you my address for you to donate in other ways if you prefer. And if you're bashful about your gift, the form will allow you to donate anonymously...I think. It would mean a lot to me...and it will make a difference!!
Will be back to the regularly scheduled posting soon! :)