My Deaf Journey


I was mild HOH growing up. At first my teachers had me sit at front of the class.  When I entered upper elelmentary,  I was given a hearing test at school and ended up having to undergo 5 ear surgeries, starting at age 5. Like many parents, mine just wanted to “fix” me. Most of my hearing loss in the beginning, was from reoccurring ruptured eardrums, repeated head trauma and abuse.

As a preschool age little girl,  I remember being curled up in a ball, in a chair or in my bed, rocking and crying uncontrollably because the pressure in my ear was so painful. I had horrible ear infections, one after another constantly. My mother would look at me as a 4 year old child and tell me “don’t worry, once your eardrums rupture, you will feel better”. Of course, this is true; but why not get help for me right away?  Why not take me to get help before the ear infections get to the point of rupturing my eardrums? Once the school nurses detected a hearing problem in elementary school, then I was taken to an ear, nose and throat Doctor. I had numerous Myringotomies (ear tube surgeries) between the ages of 7 and 12 years old.

When I was 11 years old, I met a Deaf family. They taught me so much about Deaf language/culture/history & community.  They took me to their residential Deaf school, Deaf football games and to Deaf events. I learned my first ASL vocabulary from that Deaf family. I was at their home constantly because they let me babysit and I became immersed in Deaf community and culture.  I had to learn quickly because they were a full ASL family.  Later on, I became an ASL Interpreter after I graduated college. I was a hospital/medical and educational Interpreter. I also interpreted for my Alma Mater & did that for several years. I continued working as a University classroom Interpreter, part time, even after becoming a Mother.

In 2002, I was in a catastrophic car accident. I suffered multiple injuries/surgeries & a traumatic Traumatic Brain injury (TBI). My hearing & vision declined. I diagnosed with a Convergence insufficiency in my eyes, halo vision and Extreme Dry Eye syndrome (because my eyelids don’t close 100% due to the head trauma & stroke). I got special glasses with prisms in them. I also had to get a pacemaker because my brain would not tell my heart what to do. It was at that time that I got my 1st set of hearing aids.

As time went on, my hearing declined more .  In 2014-2016, I had repeated double ear  infections again.  I lost more hearing. Later in 2019 -May, I went in for new hearing aids and they found an auditory tumor called “Cholesteatoma” (Information regarding Cholesteatoma & information regarding Cholesteatoma ). It had “eaten away” at my 3 ear bones/ossicular chain and mastoid bone. My eardrum was torn badly. I lost most of the hearing in my right ear and there’s severe loss in the left. I was also diagnosed with Tympanosclerosis (Information regarding Tympanosclerosis) or hardening of the eardrum. *{There’s more information about this below}.

I’ve been communicating with ASL & have been a part of the Deaf community since 1973! During college, I used to go every Thursday evening to the D.A.D. (Detroit Association of Deaf) bowling events. I had a Deaf boyfriend for quite awhile during those years & hung out in the dorms with my 16 Best friends; who happened to also be the Deaf students. We had so much fun and got into a tiny bit of fun trouble! Lol…

Later, I joined 2 ASL drama groups; after moving in 1982 to Arizona. In one group, “Silent Impressions Productions”, we had costumes & choreography. Tickets were sold & people paid money to see our show “Nights on Broadway ASL”, at Arizona State University. I was also in a Christian ASL Drama group at the ASU Neumann Center. We did ASL Christian song covers & Interpretive dance. That group was called “Silent Praise”.

I had originally moved there in order to work with Deaf PRE-school children! We taught the children during the day & in evenings, weekly; we taught their parents/families ASL. I KISSFIST (love) that job! After a year & half, I missed my friends & my home & so I returned to Midwest!

After coming back home, I did a little modeling & went back to Interpreting at my Alma Mater. I married & had 2 baby daughters. Fast forward to 1991, & I had to take my baby daughters & myself to a domestic violence shelter because I had been abused again for the past 8 years. As long as I felt that my daughters were safe, I stayed in the home. Once I saw my ex husband, kick our dog in front of our daughter, I knew it was time to leave that marriage. No matter how scary it may be “out there in the world as a single Mom working full time”- it was more scary to stay & continue on that way.

After I served him with divorce papers, I was offered a job within 3 days, as a school district interpreter! It was my dream job! Then later, I got a job (to get better health insurance) at a University hospital. I was a secretarial & clerical “float”. I learned 500 people jobs and worked all over the hospital wherever needed. I also wore a pager and was called to interpret all over the hospital. I got to keep interpreting for the school district on 1/2 day Weds. & on Fridays.

In approximately 1994, I made a new friend. She is Deaf & she introduced me to her two daughters & to her friends, who are also a part of the Deaf community. My daughters became good friends with her kids! She and I are still good friends today in 2020.

I had started a “Sign language club” at my daughters’ elementary school. I did it for my friend , her daughters & my own kids too. I also interpreted for her daughters’ IEP’s.

In 1997- our Sign language club “Silent Impressions”(yes…named after my old choreography/ASL group in AZ), was invited to Madonna University (& other venues) to put on a little ASL performance. It was a great time in my life! I was given an award from the school district, called “Volunteers in public schools Award- (VIPS award)”. It was for my volunteer work. I had been the elementary schools’ jump rope team coach. But I also helped: in classrooms, during field trips, in the the library & initiated & ran the Sign Language club. I was honored, but my reward was not that; it was giving inclusiveness to my friend. It was also about educating our children & many others & giving them a good experience along the way, in their lives.

I Re-married & finally to my soul mate, in 1997. We have been happily married for 23 1/2 years. But in 2002, we were involved in a catastrophic car accident. A man drove through a red light. Luckily, my husband only got a few bruises. I was hurt badly & unconscious for 30 minutes. I suffered a TBI, 11 surgeries (along with multiple painful diagnostic tests) & many injuries. These included more hearing loss & vision lowered due to Convergence insufficiency & halo vision. I ended up with 9 years of PT/OT and 3 years of brain injury rehabilitation. I got my first pair of Analog hearing aids, from my ENT & audiologist. Lastly, I had a stroke, a heart attack and a pacemaker! I was diagnosed in 2007, with the most painful nerve autoimmune illness known to mankind, “RSD aka CRPS” (#47 out of 50 on the McGill pain scale). The RSD/CRPS led me to several other connected & painful health issues (EDS-4, Chiari, Gastroparesis, S.I.B.O., Dysautonomia/POTS, Atrial fibrillation & Sick Sinus Syndrome (a heart condition) . I had to go on disability & have been living with mobility aids, including leg braces (AFO’s), loft-strand crutches, a walker & wheelchair etc.

But nothing has been as scary to me as the diagnosis I received after my hearing started declining more and more from 2014 to 2019. I actually was Hard of Hearing and I did fine with ASL and hearing aids. Yes, I can speak but I prefer ASL. I was diagnosed with an auditory/brain tumor called “Cholesteatoma”. It destroyed my 3 hearing bones and my inner ear. I had to have a Tympanomastoidectomy with oscillar chain & Mastoid bone cut & cleaned-out. I did receive a prosthetic Anvil (Incus) earbone also. But I was also diagnosed with “Tympanosclerosis”(Information about Tympanosclerosis & Hearing loss). This means that my eardrums are hardening & will continue. With this diagnosis, added scar tissue & the tumor (which has a 50% chance to return); my hearing will continue to decline. For now, my right ear has severe mixed hearing loss and Left is high moderate/severe sensory neural hearing loss. I also have pulsating Tinnitus. I received new Signia hearing aids in May 2019 and they are a tool. But since the auditory tumor surgery 7-26-19, I identify as Deaf instead of HoH. I belong to Michigan Association of the Deaf & a few online Deaf groups.

I have my own Facebook group called “ASLExpress” & a Facebook page called “ASL SuzyQ”, where I advocate and share Deaf history, culture and ASL. I also have My YouTube Channel @ASLSuzyQ and My Instagram @ASLSuzyQwhere I share Deaf memes, ASL songs & other fun stuff, including Deaf experiences & stories. *Then there is my TikTok page where it is just all in good fun! My TikTok Channel/Page

Link to “This Is Me” in ASL by Keala Settles (from Greatest Showman)

This was me a year or more after the
catastrophic car accident in 2002

This is me, post-op, after my auditory
surgery 2019-July
This T-shirt was a gift from the parents of kids
This is me at my “Silent Praise” group

A newspaper article honoring me for the
VIPS Award

My class with me at Deaf pre-school