At the age of 27, I should have felt elated. My first child had been born and was healthy. I had a rewarding job as a magazine editor and owned a comfortable home and a cute dog. My husband and I had celebrated five years of marriage. But a doctor's diagnosis overshadowed all the bliss. I was told I was going deaf.
There was no explanation for the sudden, progressive hearing loss that caused me to hear loud ringing in my ears day and night. Phone conversations became challenging, and my son's shrill cries from another room seemed almost impossible to hear. Everyday speech was difficult for me to understand as the hearing loss increased. How could I care for a child if I couldn't hear his voice well, or be successful as a magazine editor if I could no longer conduct phone interviews?
For two years, I lived in denial, refusing to purchase the hearing aids my doctor encouraged me to wear. Once I bought the aids, my problems weren't over. Colleagues looked at me differently -- a young woman with a set of "old person" hearing aids on. My child's voice was still hard to hear in noisy crowds because the aids amplified everything I heard. Air conditioners humming. Water dripping. People screaming. Horns honking.
I became depressed and withdrew from all the noise, turning down invitations to luncheons and parties. It felt like my life was ending before my 30th birthday.
One afternoon as I lay on my bed, a thought came. What if I wrote about my hearing loss? It began as random words scribbled on notebook pages. The words became a sentence, and the sentence started a first paragraph. Months went by with more writing. In two years' time, I'd completed about 200 pages of a book about my hearing loss journey. Actually, it was a fictionalized account of someone else's journey. But, essentially, only the names and dates had been changed.
Lip Reader was published in 2009 as my first novel. I have since had two more children, and all three of them have accompanied me on book tours and signings. I've spoken to civic and church groups about my hearing loss. I've been interviewed by TV and radio stations. I started a blog and a book fan club on Facebook.
Some friends in the writing and hearing loss communities have asked why I wrote a book about hearing loss. All I know is I had a story to share -- my story -- and it is now being read all over the world.
I turned 37 years old recently and no longer feel my life is ending. Hearing loss has become part of who I am, just like my children and my smile. It's my mission to let this part of myself inspire and inform others. I am elated about going deaf.
Browse this site to read more about Lip Reader. Or follow me on my blog, LipreadingMom.com, as I tell about day-to-day life as a hard of hearing mom.