Our winning entry for the Facebook Contest from John:


For your consideration, This is Me.
From the moment I was born, my life has been all about the things that I can't have. Nearly every step of the way I've lost out and been left behind because of my hearing loss. It all started when I was 5 years old. No one bothered to teach me how to read because they were so worried about me learning how to talk. I was the only kindergartner around who needed to take care of something as important as my first set of hearing aids. I couldn't run as fast as the other kids, or swing as high as them because I knew how great the cost to replace my hearing aids. I knew I needed hearing aids, and over and over again, they've been the first priority in my life over everything else.

So all of my life, I have had to burden myself or my family with the tasks of not only the times when I needed new hearing aids, but times when I have had to make repairs on them as well. There have been times when I have a choice between maybe a bill, or having to pay a couple hundred to get hearing aids fixed. I always had to choose the hearing aids. Never did it come a time in my life that hearing aids were put on the back burner for something else, because they're an instrumental part of my life. You see, rather than slowly losing my hearing, I was born this way. But growing up hearing impaired is very different than gradually losing it. My hearing loss has always been about me. It has shaped everything about me, my personality, and my relationships, both with myself and with others. The thing is, hearing loss is considered an old person’s problem. It’s normal for grandpa to miss what was said. But people don’t expect it in the young.

In high school I was in ROTC, with the dream of joining the service after graduation, just like my grandfather. I rose through the ranks of the high school levels fully expecting to be able to join – that is until I was told the harsh reality that I would never be able to, because I would "have to hear 'em coming."

I spiraled emotionally after that, not really knowing where my life could go, after something I wanted to badly for so long was taken from me, all because of my hearing.

Fast forward to present date, and here I am at 40 years of age and once again in serious need of new hearing aids — my current ones have been repaired just one too many times. I turn the tv up too loud. I spend much of my time now listening to people closely and often guessing at what they’re saying and asking them to repeat something they just said. I see my coworkers and my wife get frustrated because I have difficulties on the phone and in regular face to face conversations. Even though my hearing aids are getting progressively worse in their old age, I can deal with all of this, I have done so most of my life and you tend to get used to it. But there are some words I'm looking forward to hearing in the very near future. My little girl’s first words. She’s reached the fun stage where she’s doing a lot of babbling, but no actual words yet. At least that’s what my wife says. I have to take her word in this case. I’m only going to have one opportunity to hear my little girl say her first words, something most parents don't have to worry about, but I do, because of my hearing aids. As she grows up, I don’t want to miss a thing.

This past September, after 5 years of infertility and lots of hope, my wife and I welcomed our little miracle baby. She will be an only child. Because there is a genetic component to my hearing loss, I feared that I would be passing my hearing along to the next generation, that my perfect little angel would somehow be less than. I think I cried harder when I found out she could hear than I did when she was born. My hearing loss was likely caused by jaundice at birth. So when my little girl showed up this past September and developed jaundice on her second day of life, my wife and I fought hard to keep her bilirubin levels down. She was given the all clear. But I am still paranoid. My baby girl has to go for a follow up hearing test, and I keep putting it off. I’d give anything so she doesn’t have to go through what I did.

My other half accepts me and my condition unconditionally. She cares so much for me that she has been nagging me (sorry honey) that it’s time for new ones. I however do not want to leave my girls without.

My hearing aids are over six years old and they are just about on their last leg of life. I know I need a hearing test in order to determine just how much of a change my hearing has become. However having insurance that does not cover such a “luxury” as they seem to call it, means that all the money for it will come out of my pocket. I’ve been holding out hoping that the current national conversation on healthcare would help me and the many in need of hearing aids. But it looks like my hearing aids need to be replaced in the very near future. Normally I would do what I have to do and try to make ends meet somehow, but my life is different now.

I just found out that I will be out of a job in July. Without naming the company, I will say that the company is eliminating many positions as a part of a mass downsizing, on a path to eventually shutting down entirely. My job search is even affected by my hearing loss. Many companies start with prescreening phone interviews and while I am up front about my hearing at the start of the conversation, by the fourth or fifth request to repeat what was said, the frustration is high on both ends.

I’ve never asked for anything really in my life because I tend to either go without or eventually find a way. But in this case here, the gift of being able to not only hear, but to hear clearly and concisely would be one of the greatest gifts that I could hope for. By me receiving a gift of that magnitude, I would be able to gift back the joy and happiness knowing that I’m not going to miss a thing. I’m going to be able to share the memories of my little girl’s childhood. I can ace a job interview. I’m going to be able to laugh at a joke because I get it, not because I totally missed what was said, but don’t want someone to feel bad. I’m not going to have to worry about someone shushing me when I lean over to my wife at the movies and ask her to repeat to me what was just said that I missed. My life in essence would not be about what I am missing. Please like my post so we can win the hearing aids. I say “we” because the hearing aids aren’t for me, they are for them, my wife and daughter.

Thank you for this wonderful opportunity and Good Luck to all.