I’ve always been someone who respected and appreciated science. I actually made the decision to enter dentistry through a “what do you want to be when you grow up” project in eighth grade. I guess I was thrown into the field of science early due to my hearing challenges. I had my first surgery at 3 on my ears, and today my ears have been cut 12 times! I have journeyed through so many wonderful clinicians’ offices and admire the science of odontology and the minutia involved.
Due to chronic ear infections and burst eardrums, my ear bones no longer were capable of doing their duty on one side, and the ‘good’ side still has a perforated tympanic membrane to this day. I struggled to hear for as long as I could remember so, I got pretty proficient in reading lips. This coupled with my love for teeth made me even more motivated to appreciate the aesthetic of dentistry. Some of my most fulfilling cases are esthetic/cosmetic cases.
Perceptions can be far from the truth when it comes to people with hearing disabilities. I have seen a personal change in me specifically as a result of my hearing deficit. Throughout my life, people have perceived me as rude or dismissive due to me not responding to their beckoning, when in actuality I never even heard their calling. In the deaf community, people can be viewed as short and rude with responses, when the truth is that’s just how they can effectively communicate. For example, I ask yes or no questions to securely know the path of conversation versus an open-ended question that would involve extreme interpretation and brainpower to understand.
Especially in group settings with lots of noise, I have started to be more introverted and reclusive. This is a stark contrast to my norm. I stepped back in 2020 and realized the effect that my hearing challenges were having on both me, my family, and my social development and made the choice to step out on faith and do another surgery. It was scheduled for March 27th, 2020 right as the world ended as we know it. I postponed the surgery to allow more emergent surgeries to have appropriate PPE. The masks with the pandemic were such a challenge for me. It forced me to truly desire the surgery, but the seclusion during that year oddly was welcomed. Zoom meetings allowed me to see the lips of the presenter and hear at my own volume level. 2020 gave me perspective on what I was grateful for and what my true needs were.
Unfortunately, I was one in four of the world that received a defective cochlear device. I recently and reluctantly agreed to go back through a replacement surgery. I’m so grateful for the science and expertise of these clinicians who have worked on me to help me gain my hearing. Through all the surgeries, I am actually kind of emotionally numb. I’ve never been mad at the unfortunate outcomes, just disappointed. I know there is a purpose in this journey, and I am far from alone. I have noticed more so many of my colleagues in the field of dentistry use hearing aids and have struggles. It is nice to know I have their empathy and understanding. Also, my fully hearing friends and family have been so supportive and carried me through with encouragement and support. I have respected the science because heck that’s what I am. I am a scientist! The advances are exciting and supportive to those that have struggles. I could echo this sentiment with dentistry. I love continuing education because it shows me all the new avenues that I can assist in helping someone gain full dental health.
First and foremost my faith is what has carried me through all the years of healing, stitches, disappointment, and more. I admire and appreciate science, but when science doesn’t work faith steps in. I am a living example of faith and science. I will know in a week if my final attempt will be fruitful. However, regardless of the outcome, I’m content that it will turn out the way it should. I will learn and use the experience to be better and understand life from a different view. I’m hopeful but still happy with the journey no matter the end. So if you see me around tap me on the shoulder instead of calling my name. You have better odds at a response. God is good, His plan is perfect and I’m thankful to be a part of it.