Sunday, June 23, 2013

Defining disability

Two online conversations happened this weekend. The only common factor was me.
The first discussion was with a gentlemen who was also an amputee. His gripe was about people who used the handicapped carts chiefly because of laziness. I pointed out that just because you can't see the handicap doesn't mean it is less valid. He did have a point about needing a cart to navigate a grocery store. Does his need (no legs) outweigh people who have crippling arthritis or bad knees? Perhaps so.
I think people give up too easily. 
A former co-worker had an artificial leg and he drove a forklift for many years quite well.
My balance is shot, and I have a cane in my garage, but I haven't used it in years. One day, when I'm older, there may come a day when I will need a cane to get around... but not today.

The second discussion is still ongoing. My wife is having an online chat with a dude in England. His contention is that hearing and speaking is the easiest way to communicate with others. His opinion is that cochlear implants are the preferred method for curing deafness. He further contends that being deaf is a disability.
I can't disagree more. This gentlemen is willing to listen to our side of things and he's stated he'd be willing to change his mind on the subject. This gives me hope. I'm so used to dealing with people who won't listen, it's actually refreshing to have an intelligent conversation with someone who will.
So I lost my hearing nearly 15 years ago and got a cochlear implant in order to assist me with re-integrating with the hearing world. 
Knowing what I now know, I wish I hadn't gone through with it. My implant shorted out last week. I've been making my way in the world in the meantime. Shopping, driving, going to the movies, and working. 
You know what? Hearing or not, it wouldn't have made a difference. 
Still would have balanced my checkbook the same way. Would have driven the same way to work. Had the same conversations with customers.
People think of implants as a cure all, but it's not. If anything, using an implant makes life that much tougher for me.
Would I have written my book the same way? Can't say for certain, but I do know that the book wouldn't have had the same perspective.
This week I have to go in front of a judge. I'll be without my hearing. Nothing serious, mind you. I got caught in a speed trap, pure and simple. I'll deal with it one way or another.
I've heard Pink Floyd in concert, why would I want to even try and understand Justin Bieber?
What it boils down to is fear.
Fear of the unknown and what could happen to you simply because you can't hear something. A fire truck drove by just now. I saw it coming. Hope whoever it's for is alright.
I'm not just saying this about myself. Deaf people do not consider themselves handicapped. I am able to hold down a job, pay my bills, own a house and have a successful marriage with kids.
Becoming deaf has taken nothing away from who I am. I've lost nothing.

1 comment:

Carolyn Southworth said...

You are an amazing husband and father, hearing or Deaf makes no difference to me. I love you now more than I did before. You are who you are no one can change that.