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By Hallie Thompson (grade 9 DHH student)

So many people take the beauty of hearing for granted. They blast their music and scream, and don't appreciate the soft sounds of the world--like whispers, laughter, and the wind in the trees. I've learned to value every sound because I know the sound of silence.

My parents were expecting a 'normal' baby, but life doesn't always go as expected. When the doctors told my parents about my hearing loss, it didn't change anything. They still loved me the same and did everything they could to help me: I went to speech therapy for several years; learned some sign language and lip reading. Hearing aids didn't work. The doctors had no answers and we were losing hope.

Everything changed at the age of two, when I got accepted for cochlear implants. Six months later I had the surgery and could hear sounds for the first time in my life. However, over time, the implants became less and less effective. When I turned seven they performed a second surgery. The results were unbelievable! It was a long road, but so worth it in the end. I am, to this day, forever grateful for this operation.

Eventually the implants were upgraded. They were waterproof so I had no worries about going into the ocean when I visited my friend's cottage last summer. But things didn't go as expected. A huge wave knocked me over and pulled me under. I struggled to the surface and fought to get my breath. Then when I shouted for help, I heard only silence. After a moment of confusion I realized that my implant had fallen from my ear. I looked at the deep ocean all around me and felt hopeless. Tears streamed down my face as I threw my head under water, desperately searching the dark water. I returned to the surface and screamed my silent scream until I gasped for air. I kept diving under and searching for my implant even though I knew the ocean was too big and the water too sandy. Each time I came back to the surface I screamed again until I began hyperventilating.

My friend’s parents found me collapsed in the shallow water, too weak to move and shaking uncontrollably. They carried me to the cottage telling me that everything would be all right. But I couldn't hear them. I didn't calm down until my mother arrived almost an hour later and said that she contacted APSEA and that, thankfully, the implant was still under warranty. Obviously, I never wore my implant in the ocean again. It was a lesson well learned.

My surgeries have taught me so much about being grateful. Even though my life is still difficult with reduced hearing, I take it day by day. I can't always play games as well as I want to, but I am thankful for every sound, especially the laughter. I never again want to hear the sound of silence.

Serving Children & Youth Who are Deaf, Hard of Hearing/Blind or Visually Impaired