Hi, my name is David Taylor and I am 18 years old. As I’m sure you know, my mom, Desiree, is the wonderful woman who writes on this website. If you have read her “About Me” page, then you know she has cochlear implants and that I am her youngest son that was diagnosed as well. This is my story.
In September of 2014, at age 15, I was diagnosed with a mild-to-moderately-severe sensorineural high-frequency hearing loss in both ears. I had contracted it the year before, but the pretty mild loss at the time was mistaken for excess fluid in the ear, which I have had issues with ever since I was younger. To be completely honest, I never thought about how my mom got her hearing loss before then. It was just there and, as a family, we supported her. I didn’t know until afterwards that going for my annual hearing check-ups wasn’t something that all of my other friends did just like an annual physical, as it had been for me. Turns out those check-ups were to keep an eye out for my possible diagnosis since it’s a dominant gene in the family that caused my mom’s hearing loss as well as mine. That diagnosis came. My mom wanted my diagnosis confirmed at the audiology center that she goes to for her mapping to be absolutely sure. She held out hope naturally as I was her son, but I was ready to hear the same thing. In my mind, I didn’t see it being an equipment problem or anything. It was too significant a drop for that. I remember seeing my mom cry, while I sat there not knowing what to think. All I knew was that my mom was hurting more than me, so I wanted to stay strong for her through it.
A month later, I was able to get the hearing aids I needed through a charity program for kids that can’t afford hearing aids. I remember sitting down for my first programming…That’s where the reality hit me the hardest. In the months before my diagnosis, my parents had noticed I was saying “What?” a lot. When my mom brought up getting my hearing test early to check on it, I was very resistant, telling her “No, Mom. I’m fine. I’m fine. Nothing’s wrong with me”. Then I got diagnosed, so clearly I was wrong, but it’d be fine. I thought, “I’ll get hearing aids and I’ll hear better and that will be that. I’ll continue on with my life with just one more thing to put on and with one more set of appointments to have. No big deal,”. Let me tell you, it was a big deal. I heard sounds I hadn’t heard in so long. The audiologist’s foot sliding around on the carpet made me frantic. I couldn’t tell what I was hearing. I was so confused until I saw it. That’s when I realized that I was missing out on a lot more than I thought. On top of that, everything sounded so different.
My parents’ voices sounded different. My friends’ voices sounded different. Every sound had a new, speaker type sound to it (probably because hearing aids are microphones with speakers). It took months to get used to and get the programming best for me, partially because I resisted the new sound a lot and had them turned down too much at first. I started going to my mom’s audiologist center and one of the audiologists told me, referring to the microphone/speaker sound that bothered me so much, “That sound is the sound of the hearing aids working,”. That put me in a new perspective and helped me embrace this new sound I was running from.
So that was my diagnosis and initial getting used to hearing with hearing aids. Let’s go back to where I said, “I remember seeing my mom cry, while I sat there not knowing what to think. All I knew was that my mom was hurting more than me, so I wanted to stay strong for her through it,”. This was true, without a doubt. However, naturally I started processing the information more along the way after we left the building and drove home. I started learning more about hearing loss (our family’s and in general), hearing aids, cochlear implants, and so on. Naturally, I started thinking more about this after my first programming. However, I tried keeping a lot of my feelings inside and just get through it, because I wanted to be strong for my mom. I didn’t want to add to her pain, knowing it came from her side of the family. In my eyes, she had enough to worry about with it already. I started getting very anxious about my hearing loss and my circumstances with it. It’s genetic, so I can’t do anything except keep protecting my hearing like I have and roll with whatever changes come. By changes, I mean the fact that it can leave me whenever. Genetic hearing loss is unpredictable. Essentially, I don’t know for sure whether I’ll go fully deaf, lose a lot more of my hearing, lose just a little more, or if I’ll lose any more at all. I also don’t know, if I lose more of my hearing/all of my hearing, how much I’ll lose over how much time. Going to extremes, I could wake up tomorrow completely deaf (not very likely, but still a possibility), or I could lose it gradually, with some bigger drops than others, as it happened with my mom (more likely, if I lose any more/all of it). I started thinking, “Will I be strong enough to handle that? I have a hard enough time with what I have, and it’s not that bad compared to being deaf,”. I started worrying about my future family. I have a 50/50 shot at giving it to each and every kid I’ll have in the future. I started worrying about how I’d handle that. I started worrying about whether I’ll be able to hear those kids’ voices enough to understand what they’re saying to me. I started worrying about how I’d provide for my future wife and those kids I was worrying about. I lived in fear for probably around the first 9-ish months. That changed when I finally gave my circumstances up to God.
To tell how I gave the circumstances of my hearing loss up to God, I have to backtrack once again. The day I was diagnosed was in the first couple weeks of my sophomore year, which was the year I really started prepping for my future. However, my diagnosis ripped my career path right out of my hands just as I was getting a grasp on a head start for it. I planned on enlisting in the army and going to the infantry, where I would be for a year before I’d try out for sniper and roll with the infantry as a sniper. When I’d get out, I would have a free college education and experience on my resume to help me get into the police force, where I would work my way up to S.W.A.T. team and probably be a sniper there as well. Sophomore year is when I started attending a new high school with a vocational program for criminal justice that would get me extra college credits to give me a jump start on that college education and give me a starting experience to get a feel for the career. My hearing loss made me unfit to serve my country through the military. I may have been able to go into the police force, but if so I couldn’t put myself in the position of possibly mishearing something and someone getting hurt or killed due to my inability to react fast enough to a situation. So, needless to say, I found myself lost. I had no back-up plan to prepare for if I lost my hearing. My dreams died with the nerves in my ears. However, if I’m honest, I hadn’t sought out God’s purpose for my life. I sought out the characteristics and talents I was given by God and figured out what I wanted to do with them. God made me a very protective man. I had grown up using guns at the range and hunting. My dad and both of my grandfathers had been in the military before. I wanted to protect my country and those in it. I wanted to follow my family members’ footsteps, make them proud of me. Like I said, I can’t do it that way now. Yet, those family members are still proud of me. They’re proud of me for pushing through and not getting stopped. They’re proud of me for who I am, not what career I will pursue.
As I previously stated, everything I wanted to do for a career was taken away from me. People suggested other areas in the criminal justice field, but I had wanted to be on the “front lines” so to speak, and it wasn’t the same. I had no idea what I would do, hence why I said, “I started worrying about how I’d provide for my future wife and those kids I was worrying about,”. Honestly, I felt purposeless. Feelings of fear and purposelessness, bottled up in me trying to stay strong for my mom, ended up coming out in very unhealthy ways over those first 9-ish months. Things were said and things were done that I wish I could take back. Apologies were made and forgiveness was given to me in a way I’d never felt before from anyone here on Earth before. People forgave me and lived as though nothing had changed. After that, it took a little while to learn how to really feel again. However, I was still full of fear and I still felt I didn’t have a purpose. One thing had changed though: this experience of hitting the bottom and that forgiveness reminded me that God was still by my side. I was reminded that my life was not my own. I realized that all my hurt and my loss of purpose was because I wasn’t looking to God for my purpose and for my peace. I put my hearing and my desired career above God, so He allowed them to be taken away for me to look back at Him and redirect my focus where it should have been: on Him.
So where am I now? Well, I am now at the place in my life where my faith is the strongest it has ever been. I am seeking God’s will for my life, and not looking for what I want to do. I’m still unsure what exactly that is. I am currently in my freshman year at Eastern Nazarene College (To clarify, I’m not a Nazarene. I am a non-denominational Christian), majoring in Psychology on the social relations track of their 3 track options. Due to recent events, I have been feeling like I might be called to be a pastor. I’m not sure if that really is my calling or not, but it is something I am praying about and seeking God on as I am seeking His purpose for me. I am enjoying and nourishing a newfound talent of singing and seeing what I may do with that. I still struggle with the difficulties that hearing loss brings. I still have my struggles with worrying about the future. I’m not perfect at not worrying about it all. However, I am at peace with my hearing loss and with whatever may happen. I don’t look at my hearing loss as a horrible tragedy in my life anymore. I look at it for what it is: a reminder to trust God in everything, a reminder to live for God and His purposes rather than myself and my purposes. It has given me a testimony that has clearly changed my life, but has also changed the lives of others and will continue to change more lives. It is a testimony that shows others what it means to live for Christ and His purposes, rather than our own. It shows others what it means to push through difficulties by the strength of God, rather than our own. It shows others true dependence on God. I don’t dare say that I’m perfect in living all of those things out or say that everyone should look up to me or that my struggles are harder than everyone else’s. However, what I am saying is that this is my story to share and I hope that God uses it to touch your hearts and uses my story to change yours for the better.
Thank you for taking the time to read my story, God bless you.
- David Taylor