Tuesday, July 27, 2010

KCAT CAN: Silence

...finally came to realize and accept to live in a silent world. My world was full of silence, but with the love and affection that surround me, deafness did not become a hindrance in living life to the fullest.

by Maria Kathrina Lopez Yarza
July 26, 2010

I posted this question on my Facebook wall: How would you react if one day you woke up in world full of silence, deafness. How would you feel? What would you do?

Most responded that it would be scary; some said it would be hard for them to accept it, but are willing to face reality soon.

I was just curious how others would react if they were in my shoes, as I recall how I reacted when my doctor advised me to learn other forms of communication because I would totally lose my hearing soon. My initial reaction then was: “Ok” but it did not really sink in. It could happen or it could not. That did not bother me at all though my hearing was starting to deteriorate. Was I just in denial? I was not sure. Maybe I just have strong hopes.

My mom likewise did not want to think about it seriously. With her research on NF2, she read that tumors usually grow on the auditory nerve, causing deafness in most NF2 cases.

Was Mom in denial too? She would joke about it, but one time, she told me, “Anak ‘pag nakita mo ako sa isang sulok na umiiyak, ibig sabihin nalulungkot ako kasi hindi mo na ako marinig.” And then she jested: “Hindi mo na ako maririnig ‘pag pinagagalitan kita!” She was making light of things but clearly, she was afraid.

And then it happened. In the later part of 2005, my right ear became totally deaf while my left hearing was gradually fading.

The hearing aid was not that helpful anymore. In January 2006, I totally lost my hearing.

My mom consulted my doctor if there was still a chance to save my hearing.

Cochlear implant? Impossible, the doctor said, because once the treated tumor in the auditory nerve is affected, it would totally cause deafness. I was so disappointed then, but the doctor was encouraging. “Never lose hope, keep on praying, habang may tenga may pag-asa,” he said.

But who said I am deaf? I sometimes forget that I am deaf. There were times that we end up laughing because I kept asking my mom, my sister and brother, “Bakit tahimik?” I always forget the fact that I am deaf, because I can still communicate with them, thru lip reading, and while they are talking I am imagining their voices the way I used to hear them.

One time, while eating lunch, I screamed “Ma, bakit tahimik? Naka mute ba ‘ yung T.V.?” Then I remembered, “Ay bingi pala ako.” My sister rushed to me, and said, “Hindi ka bingi, tahimik lang.” She wrote it down on a stick on paper and posted it on my computer to remind me always that I am not deaf.


In August 2007, I came across cochlear implant while surfing the internet. I was then led to Auditory Brainstem Implant (ABI), a hearing device specially designed for NF2 patients.

I got so excited and waited for my mom to wake up. She cried when I told her, calling it an answered prayer. She called my neurosurgeon to confirm, did thorough research, met with the doctors and sought help from the House Ear Institute in the U.S. Luckily, one of the authors of the ABI, a well-known neurosurgeon offered to help us. Mom sent all my medical records to him and he evaluated it. Finally, he said that there could still be viable nerves on my left auditory nerve. He recommended me to undergo another test. The result was positive, cochlear implant could help me hear again!

I had my cochlear implantation on April 8, 2008 — and started to hear the noise of the world again on May 2000, my switch on day. A miracle indeed.

God has given me the chance to hear again, and it was my choice on how I would be able to make it.

My choice was to use my God-given talent and raise funds so we could be able to pay for my cochlear implant. I made an ear design for my hEAR shirts to symbolize my campaign. With the help of so many kind-hearted people, we were able to raise funds and started with my surgery.

It was not really easy to accept at once that I could no longer hear. Maybe I was really in denial when I said “Ok”. But I finally came to realize and accept to live in a silent world. My world was full of silence, but with the love and affection that surround me, deafness did not become a hindrance in living life to the fullest.

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