You’re probably thinking what are you talking about Thomas? Why can’t you just make the first move if that’s what you’re referring to. Well here’s the thing, I am not talking about boy meeting a girl or a girl meeting a boy. I am talking about my cochlear implants. I know they are quite an interesting piece of technology to look at. But do you get really uncomfortable when people stare at you for a good 5? 10? 20 minutes? Perhaps an hour? Eternity? What about kids staring at you while they are picking their nose and scratching their bottoms? Honestly, I am not annoyed about kids staring at me because usually they are quite honest and aren’t afraid to ask questions. Well, in my own opinion. I remember when I was younger before I was a teenager, I used to wear hearing aids. There was a boy who tapped on my shoulder at Primark.
Boy: What is that thing in your ear and where did you get it?
Before I had my chance to reply my mom interrupted.
My Mom: You can get it from McDonalds and order happy meal.
Boy: *Overly enthusiastic* COOL THANK YOU.
I was upset with my mom because I wanted to be one of those rich kids where I had a chance to say you can’t get them because my mom spends a lot of money on it. So, I thought.
I had my cochlear implants when I was 14 years old and I used to ‘hate’cochlear implants before I was told to think about getting one. It was because I never like how it was designed and I didn’t want to be labelled as ‘robot’. It was because of how people were treated in the Deaf community. Once you wear cochlear implants, you’re no longer part of the Deaf community and you’re officially a robot. That is how I saw it back in the day. During the time my hearing started to decline, I noticed things. I wasn’t able to hear people calling my name or understood what people were saying. I had people making fun out of how I try to pronounce the words or how my voice sounds.
Question: How did you end up getting cochlear implants even though you said you hate them?
The truth is I still do not like how it was designed. However, I’m grateful that I am able to hear a lot more than how it was when I had my hearing aids. I decided to get it because my parents talked to me through it. We talked about my future such as my life, career and learning how to be independent. Also, it was before I started doing my GCSEs. When I was teenager, sometimes I care a lot about what my friends think of me. I wanted to be the coolest, popular person like you see in the movies. At the same time, you have to think that it isn’t about them and it is about you and your future. That’s how I decided to go for it.
Cochlear implants do look like a Bluetooth earpiece that people use for phones or headphone. They are visible but I believe people stare at it because
- They have no clue what it is?
- How it works?
- Why do I need them?
- How the heck that thing sticks on your head?
- Is it some kind of upgrade headphone?
- How much does it cost?
I have a joke to tell you that occurred to me on a train journey from Cambridge couple years ago. I was admiring the view on the train looking at the window. A female stranger came up to me.
Stranger: Excuse me, are you listening to music? Is that a new upgrade on your ear?
Me: *Laughed*No, it’s cochlear implants. It’s like hearing aids but better.
Stranger: *Looking confused* Oh you’re funny, where did you get your headphone from?
Me: *Confused*I’m sorry madam, it’s not a headphone and I am not listening to music.
Stranger: But you can hear and listen to the music with that on, right? Can I try?
Me: *Confused*Um, it’s not a headphone, it’s a cochlear implant and you won’t be able to hear it.
Stranger: You should be a comedian! You are really funny.
Me: *Give her my cochlear implant*Try and trust me you won’t be able to hear.
Stranger: *Tried it on*Why this thing won’t stick to my head? I can’t hear the music you’re playing.
Me: Like I told you before, it’s not a headphone, it’s a cochlear implant and it’s like hearing aids.
Then, I purposely took out my Sony headphone out of my bag and start listening to music. She looked at me so confused and actually realised it was hearing aids I’m wearing. This is not because she was a fool that I had to repeat the same thing numerous times. I am actually glad that she approached and asked what it is instead of staring at me for a good amount of time. The message I am trying to say is that it is better to ask about something you don’t know rather than to assumed what it is. For those who want to know how cochlear implants works, this is the perfect video on how it works! LINK: https://youtu.be/PNpEDps0QJI. Every D/deaf person you meet aren’t afraid to explain how their hearing devices works or to learn anything about the Deaf community. Don’t be afraid to approach and ask questions because at the end of the day you probably make a new friend!