Saturday, February 11, 2017

It's not about me

That's how it ended. An explanation of why I was standing before a group of 30 people on February 9th. It's not about me.

This is a post that has been 4 years in the making. Well, really, this may have been the whole plan from the time I first was diagnosed with Meniere's disease. 

I am a person that strongly believes that there is a plan for everyone's life. I really believe that the more you fight this plan, the harder your life will be. Don't get me wrong, I have had a great life. At the same time, I believe that trials and struggles in your life serve a greater purpose. The purpose may not be visible to you at the time, but it is there.

And the plans for your life may change over time. In reality, there are very few people that have a plan or goal for their life and that is the only plan they get to live out.

Life happens.

That doesn't mean we readily embrace the changes in our plan. Many spend way too much time fighting the change. That makes for a miserable existence.

I will be the first to admit I am not thrilled that I have this disease, or that I went deaf from it, or that I decided to go a different direction in life. I miss the old me. Yet there has been so many blessings that have come from it. Yes, really.

The biggest change that has happened is what has become my passion. It used to be farming. Dairy farming specifically. I loved and lived for my cows. But something changed and it has been for my benefit.

If you've followed me for any length of time, you know I am very outspoken about the benefits I have had because of getting my Cochlear brand cochlear implants. Reaching out to people has become somewhat of a passion of mine. It's easy to understand why. In June of 2013, I thought my future was nothing more than silence, except for the horrid ringing in my ears. Here I was, 48 years old, and no means of communication. I didn't, and still don't, know sign language. Why would I? I had been hearing, albeit only in one ear for 18 years, but I had normal hearing in the other. I had no use for, or knowledge of, anything related to being deaf. Yet there I was, sitting in the doctors exam room asking him if there was anything that could be done for my hearing loss.

And that is when it all changed. I was hoping for an excuse to tell people to bug off when they insisted that I get hearing aids. I knew they wouldn't work, and I was looking for validation. Instead I got my hearing back. And a big part of my life.

Since that time, I have made it a mini mission to attempt to explain what I have gone through. Not so I can receive any puffed up ego, but rather to educate and empathize.

The ability to use what I have experienced by volunteering my time has opened so many doors. Some for me, many for others.

Last summer I was invited to be part of a campaign to raise awareness of advanced solutions for hearing loss. Yeah, that means Cochlear implants. But here is the catch. I cannot talk about my success with them without talking about why I needed them in the first place. So really, I am a two for one advocate. I have even been chided to "not talk about Meniere's disease so much." But that is simply not possible. It is my whole reason for being here in the first place. If I don't have Meniere's, I don't have Cochlear implants.

What I have found interesting is the fact that people find my story interesting. To me, it's just my life, yet whenever I share why I have CI's, people are just struck with such an interest.

This whole back story leads to this point. Because I have Meniere's, I have CI's. Because I have CI's, people are interested in my story. Because I tell my story, people learn about Meniere's disease.

And this leads me to February 9th.

Because I had the opportunity to share my story in a magazine seen only by a group of people who are part of an international organization last summer, I also had the privilege of sharing my story in person with a local chapter of Sertoma International.

Yet I wasn't there because I need the gratification of being seen and heard in public. I was there to thank them. To thank them for their support for hearing loss awareness and financial assistance to those that could use it.

But it also gave me the opportunity to educate them on one of the many ways that a person can lose their hearing. It gave me the chance to tell them, in person, that what they are doing as an organization reaches far more people than they realize. And to share with them that everything we, both myself and Sertoma, does is for the benefit of others.

I have my hearing back. Well, at least while I wear the processors. If this was an ego trip for me, why would I put myself out there to nearly anyone that reaches out? Why would I care that others find hope in my story? I would just go back to my life and push to be my old self again, living only for me.

But this isn't about me. It's about everyone that my story touches.

'til next time


Just a guy trying to live with an invisible, potentially debilitating illness