15-year-old Leah Kashar understands more about hearing loss than most people. Her mother, whom she calls her hero, is deaf and has been throughout Leah’s life. But however much she understands and sympathizes with the issue, she still couldn’t have possibly understood what it was like to have hearing loss until she woke up one day and couldn’t hear in one ear.
“I did not pay much attention to it,” Kashar wrote in a column for The Huffington Post. “It felt like I had water in my ear and I assumed that was all it was. As it got later and later in the day, I began to hear less and less out of that ear. It felt more and more clogged, and I even had to ask people to talk into my other ear so I could hear them. Being a child of a deaf adult, I was skilled in reading lips and sign language, so that was helpful. The danger did not start until later in the day. I was sitting on my bed doing chemistry homework–and then I fell off of my bed. I simply lost my balance. I was not hurt, but when trying to get up, I was incredibly dizzy.”
Eventually, Kashar went to the ER. They gave her meds and sent her home, saying it was a common issue and that she should be back to normal in a week. After a couple of weeks with little change, she went back to the hospital for multiple tests. And after three months of back and forth, the doctors told her that her situation was permanent. While not totally deaf, she had lost hearing in one ear.
“Consonants, women’s voices and group conversations became hard to hear and understand,” Kashar wrote. “School became harder because I couldn’t hear my teachers. I could no longer tell where a sound was coming from. For example, if my cell phone was ringing, I could tell that it was ringing, but not where it was coming from. To help this, I got a hearing aid. It converts the sounds that I can no longer hear into lower pitched sound that I can hear. With the hearing aid, my hearing is almost back to normal! It makes school and group conversations easier.”
Kashar doesn’t want anyone to feel bad for her. She doesn’t mind when people ask her questions, and even admits it feels nice sometimes to be able to give her own personal perspective instead of answering questions about her mom and having to speak on her behalf. “This may sound like a story asking for pity or even a diary entry, but it is not,” says Kashar. “It is, however, a story about how we all face challenges in our lives, big or small, and how we can make the best of them.” We love her attitude!
Read the entire column here and then let us know: What obstacles you have faced in your life that have challenged you to change the way you see the world? How have those things helped you grow? Tell us about it in the comments below.