September marks the beginning of Deaf Awareness Month 2019. In light of this, I will be bringing you a few blog posts during this month, about the subjects of deafness, Deaf vs. deaf, ASL, Deaf history & Deaf culture, etc.
Today, I want to take a moment to truly introduce another part of my “story” to all of you. Most of you know much about me already. You also know a lot about my pain journey already, if you’ve been following this blog at all. But you may not know much information about some other aspects of my journey. You might have seen my songs done in ASL (American Sign Language) at my YouTube channel: ASLSuzyQ .
I’ve been married for 23.5 years to my soul-mate & the Love of my life, Craig. He’s been an Elementary school teacher for 40 years now & is retired as of June 2018. We have 2 daughters who are married and 3 granddaughters & 1 grandson: Olivia-6yrs, McKenzie-5yrs. & Kiera-3 yrs & Bryce-9 months. I am high Moderate Hard of Hearing (on left) & (mostly) Deaf (on right). I had been mild HoH (Hard of Hearing) since childhood but didn’t get my 1st hearing aids until 2002. But in May 2019, I was diagnosed with an auditory tumor, called “Cholesteatoma”. Which turned out to actually be a rare disease because it often times comes back (50%/50% chance). It has caused pretty much total silence in my right ear. The Cholesteatoma (More information about Cholesteatoma ) had diseased my eardrum, hearing bones & mastoid by the time it was discovered & removed surgically on 7-26-19.
In short, I will tell you that I started out in life, totally hearing. By age 11, I had so much scar tissue in my ears L>R, from multiple ruptured eardrums, that I had a mild hearing loss. I babysat for a Deaf family with 6 Deaf children. My friend, Judy W. & I babysat as a team. I was fascinated to be able to talk without speaking. I was excited about learning ASL. These kids went to a residential school & they taught me colors, numbers, finger-spelling and everyday conversational signs. We played games like “Monopoly” and we played “school” & “house” etc.
I received ASL books for each holiday and I learned all that I could on my own. I went to college, then it was the only 4-year Sign Language studies/Interpreting program. After my 3rd year, my Aunt (who lived in AZ) called to tell me that she saw a job opening for an “Assistant Teacher” at a Deaf preschool. The requirements stated that a “college degree was required”. But I’d tested out of my first two college ASL classes & I practically lived in the dorm with 16 Deaf friends. We did everything together and I was just accepted lovingly by them. I’d been already Interpreting for the college classes at my own College, & I was doing Deaf/Blind medical Interpreting. So I flew 2,000 miles and applied for the job. I was so very excited to get the job, over others who had their degrees already. I worked at the Deaf school and I found a wonderful church youth group where I was involved in Interpreting for weekly church services. I also got involved in a an ASL drama (with choreography) group, called “Silent Impressions Productions”. We put on beautiful productions of ASL /choreographed songs & dances with gorgeous costumes. People paid $10 each, to come to our production at ASU. I was in “Nights on Broadway”, “One”(from Chorus Line) & “Hello Dolly”! It was such great fun! I was also in an ASL & Interpretive dance Christian group, called “Silent Praise”!
I had the best 2 years of my younger life ! It was such fun! I did miss home & my friends. I also needed & wanted to go back & finish my degree!
I came back home & finished college. Afterwards I was so excited to land a job as a school district Interpreter by day and as a University, “night classes” Interpreter, at my Alma Mater. I later married and had two children. At that time, with 2 small young children, I just Interpreted the night classes for several years. I continued with the medical Interpreting for Deaf/Blind.
I was in An abusive marriage and after 8 years, I got the courage to get my 2 baby girls & myself out! We went to a domestic violence shelter. I was so proud that My babies & I left on a Saturday early evening; & by Monday afternoon I had a full time job as a professional Interpreter for a school district. I Interpreted for the High school, Middle school & Elementary school.
So to speed things up a bit…. I divorced & re-married 7 or 8 years later. In the meantime I was offered a job with much more money & great medical benefits. I would be a Secretarial “float” (meaning that I had to learn everyone’s jobs so that I could cover for them). I had to learn 500 Drs schedules. I was also assigned to be the research secretary for a well known lung transplant doctor. I wore a pager and was paged multiple times weekly; if not daily, to interpret for Deaf patients who came into the hospital for either an appointment or to the ER.
One night that I particularly remember, I got called from home after I’d already gone home; to interpret for a Deaf patient. He was in the emergency room having a heart attack. I had to be precise in telling the doctors exactly how the patient was feeling. It was then, that I realized Just how very important an Interpreters job really is.
All was going well until the end of Summer in 2002. I was with my husband at a Summer art fair on a lazy Weekend day. During the drive home, we were going through a green light when another person, a man, went through a red light and crashed into our minivan. We were “T-boned”! It was classified as a “catastrophic” accident. My kids were not in the car! I thank God for that always! My husband was not hurt, but he was bruised up a bit.
Unfortunately, I was unconscious and ended up having multiple injuries and many surgeries. All in all, I also acquired several high impact chronic pain illnesses. Some of these include: Systemic RSD/CRPS, Polyneuropathy in Collagen Vascular Disease (aka EDS Type 4/heart & vascular), Degenerative Disc, Disease with multiple herniated & bulging discs at C5,6,7 & L4,5 & S-1 (along with spinal stenosis), Chronic Kidney Disease stage 2, Dysautonomia/POTs, a Pacemaker/AFib/Long QT syndrome, RA, Gastroparesis & more, including Cholesteatoma now as well. There’s more but I won’t bore you with all of that! I will add that I suffered a TBI that gave me lowered vision (prisms & convergence insufficiency) & hearing loss (I acquired 2 hearing aids in 2002-3 after the MVA). The TBI was such that I required brain injury rehab for 3 years.
After the Cholesteatoma & Surgery, I now identify as “Deaf/HoH”. The reason for this change (from HoH), is because now I can hear pretty much nothing in my right ear. The left ear is hugh moderate/severe hearing loss. I’ve received two new Signia hearing aids & I’ll be re-tested again each year.
I’ve stayed a strong advocate for Deaf/HoH. I fight oppression, audism & ableism alongside the Deaf community. Please feel free to follow me on Instagram ASLSuzyQ Instagram , Twitter ASLSuzyQ Twitter, Facebook My ASLSuzyQ Facebook Artist/video creator page and my Facebook group ASL Express Facebook group and YouTube My ASLSuzyQ YouTube channel . My ASL group on Facebook is called “ASL Express”. We express ourselves using ASL & with this group, I try to bridge the gap between Hearing, Deaf & Hard of Hearing worlds. I try to expose beginners to Deaf history, Deaf culture & Deaf community. For the more advanced and/or native and/or ASL fluent; we have a comfortable place to share & hang out online!
September is Deaf Awareness Month (short 2 1/2 min video)