I come from a family of singers, actors and teachers, so from a very young age, I was familiar with the concept of projecting one’s voice to be heard in a room or auditorium.
The ability to do this is considered normal for most, but my sudden inability to hear or respond to prompts at the age of 14 revealed that life had a different journey in store for me. I was first diagnosed as a teenage ‘rebel’, but the truth was that I would undergo my first stapedectomy by the age of 15 and the second at age 19. Soon after I had to be fitted with hearing aids.
Most people are familiar with the challenges this presents in social and work environment, but when my audiologist diagnosed even further degradation in my left ear, then diagnosed with Stage 3 Otosclerosis, the silence and isolation became very intense for me. I was in my mid 30’s and I truly feared that my voice would go completely silent, like my world.
Today I am unilaterally implanted with a MED-EL Cochlear implant, soon to be implanted bilaterally. I was 39 when I took the biggest leap of my life to make this decision, but I had an incredible team and support structure to guide me through the process. The extensive research I did gave me and anchor and while I was posting and sharing my experiences on social media I found my new stage.
You might wonder why my post is called “Let’s get loud”, but I recently watched a show called “Halftime” detailing the events leading up to Jennifer Lopez’s Superbowl Halftime show. Her determination to give a voice to Latinos around the world facing social injustices and the challenges she faced to make their voices heard was an Ah-Ha moment for me.
I now have a voice and platform and can make the voices of others with disabilities heard on a global scale, especially girls and women. This journey is only beginning ladies, so let’s get loud!
Written by Lise-Marie Fourie