My first time hearing in the water was at 27 years old.
Hearing loss was a huge barrier for me growing up in Southern California where you were likely at the beach or the pool with friends & family. But, if you couldn’t hear, you - like myself - struggled feeling confident going to pool parties with friends. Family get-togethers were easy. Everyone knew I had a hearing loss and knew how to get my attention if needed. One of my closest cousins, Karin, said to me recently, “When we were younger and we would go to Rincon or Zuma Beach, I always looked out for you. I always felt like I wanted to make sure you were okay because I knew you couldn’t hear everything”. *Insert crying emoji* I had no idea she felt that way. We always had a blast together digging for clams, bodyboarding, and climbing the rocks playing ‘lava’. A lot of times people talk louder in the water so I could actually hear and read (lip reading) what they were saying to me.
As I got older I started leaving my hearing aids on while going into the water, but only with my head remaining above the water. It was a huge risk, but I wanted to hear my friends and not exclude myself. If they were going all the way in I would go back out throw my hearing aids in their trusty case and go back out to jump in. It really wasn’t a big deal because that’s just the way it was for me.
Fast forward to 2014 - - - -
I received my Naida Q70 and Neptune processors in March 2014. I couldn’t wait to try out the waterproof processor, Neptune, and hear people talk while swimming for the first time ever. The weather is nice year-round in So Cal in case you were wondering. I had to capture this monumental moment. I purchased a waterproof camera to document my first time hearing under water.
So, I took a deep breath and counted to three. One...Two...THREE! A few seconds later I came out of the water, the headpiece had fallen off, so I stuck it back on my head and my friend asked, "can you hear me?!" I said, "YES!" He jumped in while continuing to film this new adventure and we tried to play Marco Polo. I was NOT good at this game lol. But, Marco Polo is now no longer a game I fear! As the overwhelming emotions began to take over I started to cry. I couldn't believe I was getting to swim AND hear in the water. My body relaxed and I knew I had made the right decision choosing the cochlear implant.
I also came to realize things are much louder at the pool. This was a community pool filled with screaming kids with their voices echoing and reverberating off the splashes of water coming from every direction. I said, wow, everyone is so loud. My friend just responded, "yep!". So, now in order to relax, sometimes I take my ears off and shut out the rest of the world while basking in the sun. One of the perks of having a hearing loss ;)
Do you have a favorite water memory? Share it with me!