The story about my “deafening” is not an interesting one. Well, not as interesting as I would have liked. I just went to sleep perfectly fine, and woke up completely deaf. That’s as about as much action I got. Here’s a summary of how it went down…
I have always loved music. If it wasn’t playing somewhere I was busy making my own. The way I made my own music was with beatboxing. I became obsessed with this to a point where I did it anywhere anytime till my face hurt. My friends and family had to tell me to stop. They were just jealous because I was the best. So I continued to make my music for months and months until my grandmother, who was looking after me while my parents were at work, discovered my face was swollen and phoned my mom. It turned out to be mumps. I couldn’t make my music during this time, and also stopped when the mumps eventually subsided.
During this time, school was due to start and I was an excited 6 year old boy ready for his first day of school in 2000. As fate would have it, I went to bed excited the previous day, and woke up deaf on the morning I was supposed to start grade 1. I remember opening my eyes and having my family crowded around my bed. I was confused of course, not even realising that my hearing has gone. It’s only when I saw mouths moving and arms flying around when I realised that I can’t hear anything.
The deafness came as a complication of a virus damaging my cochlea hair cells after my bout with mumps. Medically speaking, I have sensorineural deafness which can be defined as “damage to the inner ear or to the nerves that send sound to the brain.”
Communication with people became impossible in an instant. The way we as humans become accustomed to communicating became futile. Of course we were not prepared for this. Too many times we get comfortable with the thought of “that will never happen to me/us”. I couldn’t read lips then, written communication wasn’t useful as I was only 6 years old. My speech left with my hearing too. My best friend, Curtley, brought new meaning to the word “empathy”. He never left my side and together we created our own sign language. He became my ears and my voice.
What followed next was hoping and praying. A lot of hoping and praying. My father is a Pastor and I had a strict Christian upbringing. So it was only natural that what will happen next is moving from Church to Church to have people pray for me. My upbringing kept me hopeful. I have seen pastors lay hands on people and they seemed to be miraculously healed. That hope soon wore thin. It felt like it went from “people praying for me” to “people just curiously looking at a deaf boy”. That’s how uncomfortable it became. I don’t know if my parents also gave up, but the “church jumping” soon stopped. It came to a point where we had to accept that I have lost 100% of my hearing, and my only hope for hearing again will come from having a Cochlea transplant.
It is no secret that a Cochlea implant can cost an arm and a leg. My family wasn’t rich but my parents managed to raise enough funds for me to get the transplant. September 2000 came and so was the time to be operated. The “switch-on” is a moment I will never forget. It was literally a switch that shifted my world from total silence to being able to hear again. The 9 months I was deaf felt like an eternity. With that switch, my life as I knew it was erased too. You would think the worst was over…