Falling, spinning, panicking- the light started to fade, and it seemed as if every ledge I tried to grab disappeared before my hand could reach it. The impact knocked the breath out of me and I felt alone. The coldness of the ground was only amplified by the darkness. If the previous Christmas I wouldn’t have become sick (flu virus that then attacked my thyroid) maybe the weight of the situation would not be so heavy, but unfortunately is was.
You see, there is no manual on how to handle, accept, and cope with your child being diagnosed with hearing loss. As a hearing person, my heart broke and filled with fear. The darkness took over and questions started to flood my mind. What is she going to miss out on? Insecurities surfaced, what if I have a hard time learning ASL? Do we need to learn ASL? Self-inflicted bullying, how can you be sad over THIS diagnosis? It could be a lot worse. And that is just it, no matter what I felt or thought, I found a way to beat myself up over it. It started with blaming myself. Did that drink I had when I didn’t know I was pregnant cause this? Did she get sick and I didn’t realize it? Question after question, blame after blame, I beat myself up. No matter what my husband said, I kept shouldering the blame. I was letting fear take over.
I then took to the internet; searching for sites, books, anything and everything that would help me understand, gain some clarity. To be honest, for every article I read that made me feel better, there was a study that made me feel worse. As I started to gain clarity, new fears as to what was causing the hearing loss started to creep up, but eventually I regained my senses and stopped researching. I wish I could say we received the diagnosis and within a couple of days the sadness left. It didn’t.
The process was not quick, but drawn out. Between audiograms, a sedated ABR, a referral to an ENT, a sleep study (a result of seeing the ENT), a head CT, a genetic consult, and additional hearing aid appointments peppered within, it took 11 months from the first diagnosis to final diagnosis of what is causing the hearing loss. 11 months!!! And that can be considered a quick turnaround to some. During that time, I was on the phone, making appointments, following up on authorizations, taking my daughter to appointments (all of our doctors are 20 minutes away with no traffic, but there is no such thing as no traffic on the 91), school evaluations, registrations- it was crazy.
I don’t know when or where, but at some point during this process the fear and depression lifted. Sure there will always be moments that the sadness will present itself, but the overwhelming feeling has shifted from fear to determination. Embracing the diagnosis and encouraging our daughter to be proud of it helped tremendously, but the remainder of the fear and sadness left when I realized that I still need to make time for me, and everything I made time for before the diagnosis. It is scary, it is overwhelming, but it is completely manageable. Sure it can be stressful at times, but it adds fun and flare, and it is a whole lot easier to see that when you accept this one little statement:
IT IS NOT YOUR FAULT.
Say it. Repeat it. Believe it.