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2023 – Raegan Rogers – HWRA – Weber HS

Mar 24, 2023

Embracing Invisible Disabilities

At the age of two years old, I suffered from ear infections almost monthly. I had undergone a total of four medical procedures, in which tubes were inserted into my ear drums to prevent these infections. As instructed by my doctor, the tubes would fall out naturally within the next five years, but this was not the case for me. Fast forward a few years, I was sitting in a parent teacher conference meeting when my teacher told my mother that I was not confident in my school work and repeatedly asked questions in class. I immediately felt embarrassed and disappointed in myself by my performance, but my mother was not easy to believe that my lack of confidence was to blame. After many visits to a specialist, I found out that after 10 years, my tubes had not fallen out. In fact, they had stayed in for so long that they created holes in both of my ear drums. By the time I was twelve years old I was half deaf in one ear and had two thirds of my hearing left in the other. I underwent another procedure to help seal the holes and preserve what little hearing I had left.
Being so young, I didn’t quite understand the drastic changes I would soon be facing. I lived through being the front row joe of the class all throughout junior high with no problems, until I met one of my greatest obstacles yet, Covid-19. High school is hard enough as it is, but masks had made it almost impossible for me to read the lips of my teachers or makeout the mumbled phrases of my friends in the hallway. My life took a turn for the worse. I started to feel disconnected from my peers at school and the real world. It took the effort of my friends, family, and loved ones to keep moving forward.
Just when I thought that I overcame one of the biggest obstacles I’d ever face, another one was soon coming my way. On September 25, 2021, the day of Homecoming my junior year, I was hit head on by an intoxicated motorcyclist. The airbags deployed, knocking me out and causing extreme trauma to my eardrums. From the moment I woke up, I could sense something was wrong. The driver and I walked away with injuries that consisted of concussions and for me, more hearing loss. When the ambulance arrived, I was told that the pressure of the airbags had created holes in my eardrums, yet again. After the accident, I started the process of finding myself and trudging through the trenches of my story.
Never would I have imagined the challenges I would face and overcome at such a young age. While these series of events could have made my life seem like it couldn’t go any further, they in fact, inspired me to live. I learned to cope by embracing my invisible disability by learning American Sign Language, finding hard of hearing and deaf friends, and opening up to my classmates and teachers. It wasn’t easy, but without my resilience, I wouldn’t have been able to learn about new cultures in the deaf community or have fallen in love with a language I never knew existed. Sixteen years later, I can officially say that being hard of hearing is one of the best things that has ever happened to me, and that I can’t wait for the rest of my story to unfold.

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