“Looking Back” By David Cluff
Today is the three year mark since I got my second cochlear implant surgery. I have been looking back on the past few years. November 6th 2007 was a life changing experience and one that I never dreamed of having.
A few weeks later we turned it on. The doctors and audiologist kept telling me to not get my hopes high. How could I not? It was a big thing and I could not sleep very well the night before the first day of sound. When they turned it on everything sounded like ducks. I could not understand anything (with my new implant alone). My hearing has changed so much over the years and I was able to learn more about the way I hear. The year 2008 was also the year I started helping the St. Louis Children’s Hospital with a new Cochlear Implant Teen Support Group. Since I started I have been able to talk to teens and families about cochlear implants and share my story.
There is this one letter that I will never forget. This was from a mother of two deaf teens. This mother wrote a heartfelt letter about wanting her kids to hear, make friends and be happy. I began talking with them and answering the questions they had. One day I got an email from the mother saying that her two teens were getting cochlear implants. This brother and sister got implanted on the same day and started their hearing world together. I was not able to be there with them but through email and their letters I felt a part of their new journey. A year later I got an email from the two teens saying that they were both getting a 2nd implant and on the same day. It was another amazing experience to feel a part of.
These two teens have not only been able to hear again but have been able to touch many others with their story. These two teens hope to go back to Saudi Arabia and help others who have hearing loss. Their story is amazing and I wish them the best for years to come.
I am always deeply touched by each and everyone’s story, comments and examples. It is not an easy life to live in a silent world, but with God, support and family everything is possible. I have learned and used that principle throughout my life. As a 17 year old teen I still face some challenges that are not so obvious to others. One example: sometimes I will be playing a game with a big group and part of the game requires putting your head down and listening to the person for instructions. I felt lost since I could not see their face for lip reading. Luckily I had some friends explain it to me in the middle of the game which made so much more sense.
I am grateful for encouraging friends, doctors and family members who have helped me reach for the highest.
My dream came true…I can hear with two ears!
Photos By David Cluff
**Please Do Not Copy Photos**