When I was young and people called me, my head would reflexively tilt to the right so I could hear what they say with my left ear. When my father would call us through phone, my
mother would try to put it over my right ear since that was more convenient, but I would always transfer it to my left ear.
I always believed that was normal. That, like how we prefer writing with our right hand, we might also prefer hearing through our left.
It was the summer after fifth grade and I was getting ready to become a sixth grader when we found out about my hearing problem.
You see, my father had bought an iPod Nano for me and I was listening to it upstairs in my room. I vaguely heard my mother yelling for me and I took out the earphone in my left
ear to hear her better.
That was when I noticed that I could only hear the music in my right and no lyrics at all.
I put the left earphone back, and the lyrics were there. But when I took it out, only faint music issued out from the iPod.
On the edge of panic, I ran down to my Mom and told her what happened.
I went through hearing tests. Sitting inside a booth, I was told to raise my hand when I heard a sound in the primitive surroundings of the Iloilo Hearing Test Center. The lady
was visibly shaken when I was not in the least bit affected by the already rising notes she had set. To me, it was all very, very faint. Right then, my right ear was diagnosed as profoundly deaf
while my left ear had mild hearing loss.
I tried to be upbeat. Really, I did. But getting back inside the car, my mother broke down.
"I can't believe this," she said, crying as she looked out at the passing vehicles, her hands on the steering wheel, though the car remained at a standstill. "I'm so worried.
What if you go completely deaf?"
"Mom," I said, reaching over to the front seat to hug her and wipe away her tears, "I'll be fine."
It was in that moment that I vowed to myself that I would be strong. I would get through this.
My mother and I flew to Manila for a second opinion from an expert. He checked everything---everything---and recommended us to get hearing aids or have cochnea implant. The
implant costs a million pesos, and we weren't even sure if that was the problem. Besides, it was risky. I could lose hearing in both ears.
Hearing aids don't come cheap. My father paid for it by way of their savings account.
All my life after that, I had to deal with the contempt of the others. They looked down at me because I had a disability, but I didn't take that lying down. I lashed out by
achieving everything I could possibly achieve at the age of twelve, fought back at my detractors, and tried to stay strong.
My life was full of illusions. Whenever I got up, my mantra was "It's okay, it's okay" even though I knew deep down that it wasn't. And others fed those illusions by agreeing
with me. I know it was for my own good, that they wanted to protect me, but in my head, all I could think of was, "What are they protecting me from, now that the damage is
I've learned to deal. I've learned to accept my limitations, that I can't always win quiz bees because I couldn't hear the questions. I have to live with the fact that, one
day, I might wake up and not be able to hear anymore.
I try to live life to the fullest. I don't take a lot of bullshit though, and the minute someone's pity begins to show, or when someone insults me too much, I give one heck of a
response in return.
Life's not perfect. Life's not terrible. Life's okay, it has its ups and downs, and everything happens for a purpose. I might act bitchy sometimes, but at the end of the day,
it all crashes down on me that I might have little opportunity to use all five senses, much less live at all, and I should use what I've given in a good way.
Life is one rollercoaster ride; the hearing problem was just a downhill climb. But like all downhill climbs, it'll all go back up, and I'm hanging on for that moment.
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