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Advice for Child with Hearing Loss: Be Brave

BEGIN TRANSCRIPT

RUSH: Olathe, Kansas.  Nancy, welcome to the program.  Hi.

CALLER:  Hi.  I can't believe I'm talking to you.  I've been trying to call you for three years.  It's just an honor.

RUSH:  Thank you.  You bet.  Here you are.

CALLER:  Congratulations on getting your cochlear implant.  That's wonderful.

RUSH:  Thank you.

CALLER:  I was listening to you and I wanted to call because I have a daughter who just turned 14, and we found out when she was in kindergarten that she had hearing loss, just mild, and we couldn't believe it because she started talking when she was like eight or nine months old. And she has just not wanted to wear her hearing aids for the last, you know, couple, three or four years where we started telling her when she was in fifth grade, "You have to wear them at least to school." And when we would go to the audiologist she would say, "Yes, you need to wear them because if you don't you might possibly weaken that nerve damage, whatever, more, and then you may not be eligible for a surgery that could possibly fix this in the future."  So I don't know what to do, Rush, to get her to want to wear her hearing aids.  You know, she's embarrassed.

RUSH:  I know.  You're probably dealing with teenage vanity, right?  She's afraid of how she's going to look.

CALLER:  Yes.

RUSH:  And she's afraid people are gonna make fun of her and she's afraid people are gonna think that she is disabled or an invalid. 

CALLER:  Yes.

RUSH:  Well, can you hang on for three minutes? 

CALLER:  Sure.

RUSH:  It's your child, but I can tell you what I think I would say to her.  And you can risk it.

BREAK TRANSCRIPT

RUSH:  Okay, back with Nancy in Olathe, Kansas.

CALLER:  Yes.  Hi.

RUSH:  Your daughter is 14, did you say?

CALLER:  Yes.

RUSH:  And what kind of hearing aids are her audiologists suggesting?  I mean, how big?

CALLER:  They're little.  You can hardly see them.  Sometimes I'll look at her and I'll say, "Where's your hearing aids?" and they're in because it has like a little clear tube that goes to the back.

RUSH:  Okay, so they would be in the ear. There's nothing she's gonna be wearing behind the ear.

CALLER:  Oh, actually the tube that comes out of her ear attaches to the little piece behind her ear, but it's tiny.

RUSH:  Okay.  All right.  You know what I would tell her, based on my own experiences with this? I would do my best to get her to get over the embarrassment factor and instead to be brave. Because bravery is a great thing, and it will require some because overcoming being laughed at, being made fun of, people smirking, you know that's gonna happen. Kids are kids, and it's gonna be seen as a weakness.  She needs to see it as an act of bravery that she is doing to make herself stronger. 

You need to impress upon her that she does not want to lose the ability to communicate with her friends, to be able to talk to them on the phone or wherever.  She can always e-mail and text, that kind of thing, but there's nothing that replaces face-to-face conversation and having meaningful, intimate relationships with people.  And I don't mean sexually intimate, but just giving yourself to somebody and being totally intimate, you've gotta be able to speak and be able to hear to do that. 

It's also a fundamental aspect of learning, of education.  You can learn quite a bit reading.  You can absorb knowledge that way.  But you learn a lot about people being able to hear them and associate sounds with the way they look. And if her hearing is really deteriorating and these hearing aids can arrest it, stop it, until something better comes along, maybe a cure, there's no reason in the world not to do it simply for the reason that she doesn't want to lose -- take it from me, you don't want to lose the ability to speak to people and to be able to --

CALLER:  Yes.

RUSH:  -- have them hear you.  But there's another thing.  I asked my doctors before I got the implant, I said, "What if I don't do it?  I'm a professional.  I know how my voice feels when I'm speaking correctly."  They said, "No, your voice will deteriorate. When you can't hear yourself speak you will eventually sound like deaf people who've never heard themselves sound.  You'll not be able to be on the radio."

CALLER:  Right.

RUSH:  That'll no doubt happen if she loses the ability to hear herself as she exists.  But, really, Nancy there's no reason in the world not to do this.  This isn't a matter of embarrassment. I know for her it is, but you have the benefit of experience over her, you've lived longer, you are the parent, and --

CALLER:  Right.

RUSH:  -- you know more than she does. You've lived through what she's going through now. You can relate to her in that way.  You can tell her you know full well what's gonna happen and you'll be there to support her when it does. That's why, folks, it's an act of bravery to do something like this.  She's doing something to improve herself and that's the way she's gotta look at it.  You know, we're all dealt a hand in life and hers is what it is.  But there are medical marvels and miracles that enable her to compensate for what's happening that she should take full advantage of.  Because there's no replacing being able to talk to people.  There simply isn't any replacement for it.  There's no replacement for being able to hear what people say to you and how they say it to you.  It's part of having meaningful relationships with people, which is about having a meaningful life. 

CALLER:  That's good advice.

RUSH:  What have you tried?

CALLER:  Well, you know, we take away her phone and TV. And so, I mean, I can make her wear them, you know, because I am the parent. But I want her to want to, to improve her education, 'cause her grades do improve.  I mean, you would never know that she needed hearing aids by talking to her because people would be like, "What, she wears hearing aids?  I would never have known that."  So that's why I think she thinks she doesn't need them, but she really does.

RUSH:  Well, you know, it's tough.  You know, being an adult has its advantages.

CALLER:  Hm-hm.

RUSH:  One thing I never, ever gave a second thought to was how I was gonna look.  To me it was all about saving my career.  And I had fun with it. People didn't know what my implant was. If they thought that I was a Secret Service agent or had some super high-tech phone device, I let 'em think that.

CALLER:  Yeah, well, I'll tell her that.  I like the bravery and all that, making her stronger. Yeah, and I'll just keep doing that.  And I appreciate --

RUSH:  Tell her it's all about being the best that she can be.

CALLER:  Yeah, we instill that in her, and she does, but it's like, come on, get over this vanity thing. 

RUSH:  Well, that's gotta be tough.

CALLER:  Yeah.

RUSH:  Teenaged girl and vanity, that's why I wouldn't even go there.  I would just -- well, you know her better than I.  You know how to do that.  I would just focus -- what is her first name?

CALLER:  Madison.

RUSH:  Madison, you want to be the best you can be, and this is part of it.  You know, use the benefit of your years on her to tell her how important it is to be able to communicate with people verbally.

CALLER:  I will.  And I'll let her listen to this.  I'm sure I can get it on the podcast so she can hear it.

RUSH:  Cool.  I hope it helps.

CALLER:  Yeah.  Oh, thank you.  It was an honor to talk to you.  My family is gonna be so jealous.

RUSH:  (laughing)  There's no reason not to do it.

CALLER:  Yep.

RUSH:  If she was suffering some damage in her eyes or something and there's a fix for it, there's no reason not to try to fix this.

CALLER:  Right. Well, I want you to run for president and thank you so much.

RUSH:  Well, I couldn't deal with the pay cut, but I've thought about it. Thank you so much.  I appreciate it.  I really do.

CALLER:  Thank you.

RUSH:  Stay in touch with Mr. Snerdley, let us know how it goes.

CALLER:  I will.  Thank you so much.

END TRANSCRIPT

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