Back to School Night

I teach part-time at a wonderful private school called “Chieftain Institute”. We had our annual “Back to School” night last night and I was able to meet all of my students and their parents. Wouldn’t you know I forgot my ALD’s? (assistive listening devices) My pocket talker is currently inoperative and being repaired, and I left my clipboard at home! Rats! And it works so well! Sigh. At least I didn’t forget any of my things to pass out to the students… including their first homework assignment. They would have been really upset had I forgotten that.

©2006 Hearing Loss Diary

Desperate Attempts to Control: Bulemia

I’m working on something that has been very difficult to write. I think, in part, it is because I have a precious daughter of 16, and I worry about impressions. I want to be a positive role model, someone who is a good example of how to “rest” in who I am in God, and not in who I am or appear to others. Yet, bulimia was a very real problem in my life when I was in my early 20’s. As I begin to work on this project as it relates to hearing loss… know that I am grateful for your prayers in advance.

©2006 Hearing Loss Diary


Hello! My name is Denise Portis and I’m very thankful for this opportunity to tell you a little bit about myself. I’ve learned God’s love is even more evident when circumstances are difficult!

I was very fortunate to be raised in a Christian home, and am thankful that I cannot remember a time when God was not the center of my life. It was a result of godly parents that I came to know the Lord at the age of thirteen. Although my salvation was the biggest and BEST thing that ever happened to me, I did experience another day that also completely changed my life.

In August of 1972, at the age of 6-yrs-old, a car struck me as I crossed the street on my way home from school. I suffered numerous injuries, and broken bones. The most serious injury, however, was a brain injury. While the doctors worked to save my life, my parents had relatives request prayer for me from all over the United States. God wasn’t finished with me yet, and miraculously I recovered from most of my injuries. After months of rehabilitation, the doctors operated on my ears for the first time. I have had 3 other operations throughout the years, the last being in 1986.

I don’t think a doctor ever actually said to me that I would eventually lose my hearing to the point that I could not communicate in a normal way one day. As a matter of fact, growing up my hearing was normal enough that I was not considered hearing impaired. Oddly enough, throughout high school and college, I fell in love with sign language and with those who do not hear. Looking back, I can see it was one of the few ways that God was preparing me for my future.

At the age of 25, I began to lose my hearing again. I think it was more noticeable to my family than it was to me. But in 1998, I realized that my hearing in both ears had deteriorated considerably. I went to the doctor to be told that I did indeed have a significant loss, and that little could be done. It seemed almost overnight that life became very difficult. I am almost completely deaf in my left ear, and have a significant loss in the right.

It’s hard to explain exactly how it feels to grow up in a noisy world, and find yourself slipping into a silent one. I could no longer hear the birds sing, or a creek running swiftly over the rocks. I could no longer hear crickets, a kitten’s purr, or the wind blowing through the trees. My heart was broken when I realized I no longer could hear young children’s voices. Although it is the SWEETEST music to me ears, I’ve found that there are times I cannot hear my OWN children’s voices. I became depressed, even angry. I dropped out of ministries that I had been involved with for years in my church. Conversation had become something I dreaded and even feared. It was a very dark time for me. But God was there. “I will never leave you, nor forsake you.” And He had not. It was during this time of silence, that I really began to HEAR.

My Heavenly Father took this time to teach me how to really pray. It was only while in prayer that I could communicate effectively. Conversation is a very difficult thing for a hearing impaired person. I would come home from meetings with headaches because it would take such intense concentration to read lips and to understand what was said.

But prayer was different! In this… solace… of prayer, I could climb up in the Father’s lap and have a conversation without any barriers. I didn’t have to read His lips; I didn’t have to struggle to understand. I knew God could hear me, and I could hear Him.

As I also began to read my Bible more, I was amazed to realize that He wanted to spend time with me in the way as much as I wanted to spent time with HIM. What Father does NOT want to talk to His children? I read everything I could get my hands on about prayer. I found myself praying…A LOT! I started a prayer journal, and began seeing prayers answered. I would fill up journal after journal with prayers. I also found that I’d catch myself praying while doing the dishes, or working in the yard. I was praying like I’d never prayed in my entire Christian walk! It was during this time that God reminded me that He didn’t develop a spiritual gift in my life, to let it sit on the shelf – unused. I had known and used a gift of teaching since the age of 16 years old! But I had dropped out of every teaching ministry I had! How could someone who struggled to hear – teach? Well obviously when God equips… one can DO. I found myself teaching again although something I had never dreamed God would have me teaching. As I had become involved in the deaf ministry at my church, I was asked to teach American Sign Language. Unbelievably, I found myself teaching again. I can’t express what a joy it was teach my language from a Christian perspective! What a joy to share personal stories and to help “demystify” what being hearing-impaired means! I have also had the joy of teaching my children ASL, and they are very comfortable with hearing impaired people. One of the teenagers I had the privilege of teaching ASL, graduated in May and will be pursuing a major in deaf education! I can’t tell you how that blesses my heart! I’ve even been able to teach my husband some sign! I had to teach him the most important things first… Like “I love you and “Sorry I’m wrong”

I can’t stand here and claim to be a super Christian! I still have bad days where I feel very, VERY sorry for myself. However, it is wonderful to see God working over the years and to see Him continue to work today! Through spending so much time in prayer, I have never felt more LOVED by God. Because I grew up in a Christian home, I had been taught that God loved me. The scriptures are full of verses that attest to this! However, it never became more real to me than when I began to pray… Really pray.

Many of you pray, but perhaps not in earnest. I was the same kind of Christian myself once. I prayed before meals, or when I needed something. Losing my hearing has been an adjustment for my entire family. However, I can stand today and honestly say I would not take back normal hearing, in exchange for what I’ve learned about prayer. I try not categorize these years as “becoming a woman with hearing loss” Instead, I thankfully recognize this time in my life as, “becoming a woman of prayer”.

Thank you!
Denise Portis
©2006 Hearing Loss Diary

My Kid Figured Out I Can’t Hear

As I was updating my hearing loss diary, I cried all over again when I came across this one. (see below) I just wondered how many other mothers there are out there who find a special type of frustration in what they are NOT hearing in their kiddo’s lives. I have a good friend who is completely deaf (culturally deaf) and she continues to tell me how blessed I am that I could still hear reasonably well when my kids were babies. I know she’s right, and yet I wonder how many conversations my children choose not to have because having a conversation with “mom” is so time consuming. They’re pre-teen and “teen”. I want to have conversations with my kids. I’m rambling, I know! Grin! I think I can see how being hearing impaired can make you lonely in your own house full of people. Can anyone relate? Anyway…

May 8, 2003
This morning around 2:25 a.m., my son Christopher woke me up by scaring me to death actually. He grabbed my arm and shook me! There was a time NO ONE could sneak up on me even when I was asleep! I said sweetly, ok…. I growled, “What do ya WANT!!???”, loud enough to wake my sleeping husband as well.

OK… I exaggerate again… it didn’t wake him but he did groan and turn over! My son, continued to grab at my arm. Now he’s 12 years old, and weighs almost as much as I do. When he’s grabbing at my arm, I feel like slappin’ him up side of the head! (At least I do when I’ve just been woke up from a sound sleep!) Finally, I realized something was up. (Proof positive hearing impairment does not mean one is mentally impaired as well)

I followed him out in the hallway and he turned to face me…. still clutching at my arm. I almost died of shock. (Well, perhaps death was still a long way off, but my heart did skip a beat!) His face was white and his lips blue. Asthma. He’d never had anattack before, but I’d seen this enemy in my own mirror. I knew just what to do. Steam, doctor call (which husband fully roused took careof….. afterall, I did more than CLUTCH his arm. More like used him like a trampoline!) and calm.

Ever try to be calm when your youngest isn’t breathing well? While we were waiting for instructions from the doctor, he managed to rasp out, “Mom… I’ve been calling you for a long time! I yelled until I couldn’t yell anymore!” I almost died of shock. Did I already say that? Ever feel your heart pound and race out of fear? That’s how I felt in that moment. I’d let my kid down. I wasn’t there for him when he needed me…. wait a minute. My husband can hear! Where was he at? I’m gonna KILL HIM! smile. But I didn’t. Some people sleep very soundly, he’s one of ’em!

Well… my son knows I can’t hear. What’s with that? I’m thinkin’ in his child-clouded panic, he wasn’t thinking that mom cannot hear when her ear is turned off. (the way the kids describe my hearing aid).

Next… the early morning trip to the doctor. I slap on my magnetic badge, “Please face me. I read lips”. No one faces me. I am now sleepy, scared and angry. All in that order. The doctor puts my son on a nebulizer giving instructions the entire time. Ok. I can hear now. At least I can hear the rumble and bubbles of this machine helping my son breathe better. The doctor’s voice is still lost somewhere. I’m guessing it’s behind that worn out painting that she’s facing instead of facing ME!

Finally, I stand up for myself. Stand up for my kid. Stand up for patients who can’t hear. At least I did in that one instant. Our doctor looks embarassed. That’s something I guess. So home again and time for a “mommy sermon”.”Ok. You are both 12 and 13 years old. You know I can’t hear. You know I especially cannot hear when I’m in bed, without the HA, without my eyes open. You have a responsibility to come to me. Your old enough for responsibilities. You must help me help you.”

It went on for another 20 minutes or so. But I stepped off my soapbox still shaking. Still devastated. Still in shock. I can’thear.

Denise P.
©2006 Hearing Loss Diary