My Cochlear Journey

My Journey as a hearing imapaired individual

My Story in written Form:

Hi my name is Elizabeth Collins. I work at Naval Medical Portsmouth Center in Portsmouth Virginia, under the Ability Program as a contractor with a disability. I am currently enrolled at a community college pursuing AAS degree in Administrative Support Technology; I will be graduating May 2014. I am so excited because it has taken me 4 years to complete my AAS degree, along with a certificate studies in Office Management/Administration. I am continuing on to pursue a BBA degree in Business Administration; concentration in Contract Management at ODU. I am a Contract Management Support Specialist contractor working for the department of defense, here at Naval Portsmouth Hospital in the Budget Department. My interests are spending time with family. I love fishing, camping, and singing Karaoke, even if I can’t sing, but I still love to do it.

Here is my story, I started losing my hearing at an early age of seven and by the time I turned fourteen, I had 5 surgeries and a reconstructive mastoid middle ear surgery on my right ear. I had uncontrollable vertigo and constant dizziness. My doctor had no other option at the time and decided to remove all of the inner ear, which left me permanently deaf in my right ear. That was the last time I heard in my right ear. I felt paralyzed and lost. I grew up not understanding my disability. I was pushed through the school system, barely passing and not getting the concept. I pretty much felt left out. I was stigmatized by people because they always thought I was ignoring them. It didn’t help either when I started losing my hearing in my left ear. My family didn’t support or even educated me, because they didn’t know how or they thought I lacked intelligent, at least that’s what I thought growing up. I know now, I can’t make excuses or be bitter for them, but I can change people’s point of views and educate the ones who know very little about single side deafness or (deaf culture), other words (The hearing impaired World). Most people don’t understand deaf culture; the way I perceive it, it’s a silent disability that can’t be seen.

The few things I am very grateful for, I have three wonderful children ages 15 years old Alecxander and two daughters 19 Lauren and 20 Marina. I am recently remarried to a wonderful husband Richard I been with 11 years, which understands and supports my returning back to school at late age in life. I have always felt special because he has always had a great respect for my disability. He has supported me in all my endeavors, including getting part-time job as Consultant for Health and Wellness Company, continuing my education and most of all, wanting to become a disability advocate. It is important to have great family structures that helps and support you along the way. I contribute most of this to them because I wouldn't have the passion I have today if I didn’t have any of this.

In order for us to help ourselves, we need to teach the hearing world we have a voice, a mind, and great ideas. Some people don’t seem to relate to us because they think, just because we can talk, there is no way we have a disability and if we can’t relate to them, they just dismiss us, as if we don’t know any better and that we lack intelligent.

I wanted to join Cochlear as volunteer because Cochlear- has help revolutionize the future of all hearing impaired, deaf, and loss of hearing individuals. What inspired me to want to become a volunteer was when I kept being denied by my insurance at least three times that I could not get my BAHA hearing aid implant approved. It made me so upset, because I didn’t understand the fairness of it considering I had a commercial insurance, so I decide to fight them. With help from my co-workers and friends (Michael Davis and Sydney Johnson), I was able to dissect my insurance policy and found the necessary codes to help me prepare another letter to send to the review board requesting an approval. After, a few rounds with them, I was able to get my surgery approved. I can’t explain how ecstatically happy I was that day! I am glad I never gave up. On November 28, 2012 I got my surgery and Feb 14 2013, I was adjusted to fit my BP100 BAHA 3, I couldn’t be more excited. I was able to hear sounds like I have never heard before. There was no comparison from all my other hearing aids. That feeling will never go away from me, which will have an impact on me for the rest of my life. This is the very reason why I want to be a part of something that I can assist, educate, and help others out there going through the very same thing I have gone through. There is help out there. Having a support system is very important for everyone, especially if you have a large group, such as Cochlear. It’s like a big family that knows what you’re going through, otherwise. It’s just another person.

I feel I can be a positive role model to all ages that has similar restrictions such as, myself. The challenges I have faced in my pass, it will not only help others, but that it takes people like us who have been beaten down, denied certain medical rights, and not been accepted in society as a whole. I want to share the benefits that cochlear has to offer by educating them about their insurance rights, support groups, and networking and at the same time educating as many people to live life with sound, like myself and many others.  

Finally, awareness! Not a lot people know that we are always trying to fit in and trying hard to convince people to see us as an individual. The truth is… We are an individual, who has hearing disability and who also, needs our assistant facing these challenges each and every day. I feel by giving a piece of me to everyone, in-turn will help everyone give a piece back to the big family that I have now, thanks to Cochlear. Thank you for being a part of something big in my life, and changing me to see the real ME!

Written by,

Elizabeth Collins


"The best way to find yourself… is to lose yourself in the service of others."

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