December 30, 2010

"Challenges" By David Cluff

A few weeks ago I was at a Boy Scout (BSA) Council to turn in all my eagle papers to get my eagle award. (To see my eagle project visit: My father and I were talking to a man at the council and asked he me a question: “What is the hardest thing, being hearing impaired, in scouting?” I thought about it and the first thing that came to my mind was campouts. It was a challenge each month as I prepared to camp with my scout troop. I knew I would be fine but I always had thoughts about “what if.” What if my implant broke or what if I can’t charge my implants? By following the scout motto, “Be Prepared,” I knew just what to do.

The thing that worried me the most was charging my batteries. I always made sure there was a vehicle close by the campsite where I could charge my batteries. I was always worried that I might not wake up since I can’t hear at night. Luckily the other scouts would help me, but sometimes I was late for breakfast.

Leaving my home where I have full power, a bed shaking alarm and a comfortable bed was always a challenge. I had great leaders and parents who encouraged me to overcome this challenge. I can now say I did. I have been on more than 20 overnight campouts, 4 weeklong campouts and a weeklong float trip. I reflect on those times when I thought I would never make it.

Scouting was not the only time where I experienced challenges of being deaf and wearing cochlear implants.

Water, Float Trips: A few years ago our family started a new tradition to do a float trip on Labor Day. The first time I got in the canoe I was scared to death to wear my cochlear implants. I brought a waterproof case and put my implants in it and then I would put that box inside another waterproof box. Even with all that, all I thought was, “what happens if I fall in or my implants fall off into the water?” Each year I got more confident and felt stronger. One year I was able to wear them, while on water, longer than any other year.

Packing/Travel: For some people, packing for a trip is not a big deal, but for me, it is a major ordeal. My top items on my packing list are my eyes (contacts) and ears (implants). I put all my regular packing items in one suitcase then my eyes and ears in a backpack. When I am at airports I keep it close by me.

Everyday Life: Some of my routines are done differently than others. When I get ready for the day I have to keep my ears off until my hair is dry or done. When I put my wallet in my pocket I also have to put extra batteries in and make sure I have enough battery life with me. For a full day (from 6am-10pm) I have to use 8 batteries for my 1st implant and one battery for my 2nd implant. Why such a difference? My 2nd implant has far more advancements in technology than my 1st implant. When I drive to and from work, classes, and meetings. I have to make sure my battery won’t die on me. If it does, I must wait until I am at a stop to change it. This may sound like a lot to keep track of but it has become a part of who I am and I love it. There are times when I am talking to someone and my battery dies in the middle of the conversation. It can be frustrating but again, it is a part of who I am.

Insurance Companies: Every person will always have to deal with insurance companies. It can be for health, home, cars or anything.

I have been denied and approved many times. When a denial comes, I find a back road and get back on track. When I was trying to get my 2nd implant, I was denied two times and thought about taking the easy way out and just give up. I tried again and was denied a third time. I knew I could not give up, so I stood up one last time and said, “let’s keep going.” I was approved and now I can hear with two ears. It was a long year but it was worth it. A few months ago I just started another battle/journey. I am trying to get an upgrade for a processor that will work with my 1st generation implant but looks like the new generation implant processor. I submitted to the insurance and got denied a few weeks later. I decided that I will be taking a back road for this. Who knows where this will lead me but I have faith and I am going to trust my Heavenly Father.

I have realized that everyone has different challenges and I have been given my own. With my Heavenly Father, family and friends I am able to overcome them. These challenges have grown to become a part of who I am.