hearing aids

My Hearing Aids Are Cooler Than Your Hearing Aids

Hold my hand and walk with me.
 We must break the back of social inequity;
 We must empower every individual with a disability
 To live with dignity in an inclusive society.
                          -William E. Lightbourne


Opaque has never been my favorite color when it comes to accessories, I'm more of a bright color, in your face, no mistaking my attention-seeking-intentions, sort of accessory wearer. However the clear-ish, cloudy opaque color has been the suggested color choice for my hearing aid mold for the past 20 years. The prevailing thought amongst audiologists must be that people who wear hearing aids probably want to look inconspicuous and pretend like they are not there. Who are we kidding? A little color matching will not detract from the obvious technological device in or around the ear. It's about as obvious as cubic zirconia earrings. Furthermore, being hearing impaired is one aspect of my selfhood that shan't be hidden, but rather incorporated into my selfhood, and thus my fashion.


Behold! No longer will my hearing aids continue to serve as an awkward and timid conversation starter amongst strangers. It is now one of my most expensive, personalized accessories, (insurance doesn't cover jewelry like this), my neon orange mold will invite conversation and beckon curiosity. This sophisticated device is synced with my iPhone and other bluetooth enabled devices, it allows me to rely a bit less on lip-reading, and affords me the bonus of having the ability to push a button to switch to hearing John Legend's smooth voice while I stare and nod and pretend to listen to you.  The neon orange color matches the color of my junior prom dress that I loved so much...form has never met its fashion match quite like this! Aerodynamically, a bumble bee isn't supposed to be able to fly, but it doesn't know that, so it flies anyway. Hearing aids don't know that society is still coming to grips with inclusivity by encouraging skin-tone colored features. But, hearing aids don't know that, so society will just have to adjust.

American Girl Doll, Build A Bear, and BuzzFeed (#ToyLikeMe) are hip to the societal shift of taking the shame out of disability by designing colorful, pimped out accessories, and fostering a sense of inclusion one doll at a time. Phonak, Beltone, Miracle-Ear, Oticon - it's your turn! Capitalize on this niche market, create a catchy slogan, contact me if you'd like; I'd volunteer to be your model (role-model, that is).

The bottom line is; my hearing aids are cooler than your hearing aids.



The Letter.

My mom sent this beautiful letter to my [new] family in Chattanooga...

Dear Deborah and family,

I’m Angela Tucker’s mom here in Bellingham, Washington and am very excited to be writing this letter. Have thought about this for a long time. Chattanooga had always seemed so far away as our family talked about it over the years but now even though miles apart it feels right next door.  It means a lot to Angela and our entire family to be able to meet you and your family.

I’m guessing that you might be curious how we became Angela’s adoptive family?  The story follows, but first I want to thank you for sharing Angela with us (even though some of you didn’t even know you were).  We thank you Deborah for choosing adoption.   Not only was Angela’s  life changed by being adopted, but our lives were changed as well.  What a blessing this was!  Her cheery personality and her ‘forever’ smile brought much joy to our family.  She was best friends  with our older daughter, Elena, as they grew up.  This was and still is a special friendship.  People joked as Angela turned 2 years old that I should just hook her to my side with velcro as she always followed alongside me wherever I went.  We were never far apart.  Her sports ability—kickball and PE (in elementary school), basketball, track, cross-country and softball in high school and basketball at Western Wash. University—made us all proud.  Music also filled our house—her piano, harmonica, karaoke and singing for no reason or any reason was daily.  She and sister Elena enjoyed numerous piano duets.  Angela’s hearing loss helped educate all of us about both the struggles of wearing hearing aids and the belief that all of life’s opportunities were ahead.  She added a lot to our family, to say the least.

Deborah, when Angela was born, you had asked that she be given opportunities in life to live up to her full potential.  We took this to heart, felt guided by your request and thought about it many times as we raised her.

We began our family in 1974 with the birth of our daughter, Elena, followed by the adoption of Shawna and Steven.  In 1986 we were anxious to adopt again and searched the adoption books of waiting children from different states hoping to find the perfect match.  It didn’t take long before we found Angela in the state of Tennessee book.  She was listed in this book as a ‘hard to place’ child due to her possible physical disabilities.  (She spent the first year with a Chattanooga foster family as her health issues were identified. The adoption agency did not know the cause of her disability.)   We knew she’d fit into our family as soon as we read it.  We notified our adoption worker here in Bellingham who then worked with the adoption worker at Bethany in Chattanooga to make this match happen.

David and I flew to Chattanooga a week or two before her 1st birthday and spent the weekend getting to know her and deciding for sure if she was the one.  (There was never any doubt she was the one!)  We met with a representative from Bethany, was given non-identifying information about your family and the first name of the birthfather.  We spent a couple hours with Angela to get to know her (she slept the entire time!).  Then on Monday, flew with her back to Bellingham.

We continued her physical therapy related to her disability but within 3 months was told by the physical therapist that she had improved enough that she didn’t need it anymore.  She shortly began to walk, run and do all the things expected even though there was still some mild tightness in her legs and arms. Her hearing loss wasn’t identified till she was about 4 years old.

And so this is how Angela became a Burt and a resident of Bellingham (about 75 miles north of Seattle) and Washington state.  As time goes on I’m sure Angela will share photos, stories, memories etc. about growing up as a Burt with all of you.  (Ask her about getting her wisdom teeth out while she was on crutches, the competition she had with a friend to see who could wear shorts to school every day of 5th grade, playing basketball in bare feet in Belize, the ride on the Desperado rollercoaster, Highway 3 in Mexico and of course, our yearly Burt Meatfest.)  And she’ll enjoy hearing from each of you what it was like growing up in Chattanooga.

She has been a joy to our family.   We thank you again for sharing her with us. We look forward to meeting you all next summer.

Simply beautiful. Thanks for writing this mom!