Ashlee Rose: Tell us about yourself
Bridget:I'm originally from NW Iowa, but Kansas City, Missouri has been my home for many years. I'm fortunate to be close to my immediate family - both in terms of location as well as relationships. My parents are Joseph and Rae Jean, and as of January 18, 2019, they will have been married for 44 years. I have an older brother named Brandon, and he has two sons named Chase (14) and Ty (10). My sister's name is Erica, and we have always been close; we actually teach at the same high school. I have an incredibly supportive boyfriend named Michael; he is handsome and smart, and best of all, his logic helps keep me grounded. I love supporting our Kansas City Chiefs (they have a playoff game this Sunday-Go Chiefs), Royals, and enjoying all of our fabulous Kansas City BBQ!
Ashlee Rose:What do you do?
Bridget: I am a high school English Langage Arts (ELA) teacher. I currently teach English I and English IV, which is most typically freshmen and seniors. I have been teaching at Fort Osage High School (FOHS) since 2013, which is in the Kansas City metropolitan area. I am also an assistant track and field coach at FOHS since 2014; I coach long jump, triple jump, and javelin.
Ashlee Rose:How old were you when you were diagnosed with a hearing loss? What kind of hearing loss do you have?
Bridget:I was 21-years-old when I was first told by an audiologist that I needed to wear hearing aids. I remember that he said he was surprised that I had been successful in college, and that my initial reaction was, "How embarrassing..." which resulted in tears. Fortunately, I now know that hearing aids are nothing to be embarrassed about. I have Reverse Slope (RS) Moderate to Severe Congenital Bilateral Rising Severe Sensorineural Hearing Loss (SNHL); at the age of 36, I am currently at 50% bilateral hearing loss. RSHL is far less common, and it can be a bit more challenging for my audiologist to program my hearing aids.
Ashlee Rose:Do you have a family history with a hearing loss?
Bridget:Yes, on the paternal side of my family. My dad's mom, Grandma Mary, had the cochlear implant as a study patient in Iowa City about 12 years ago. She actually just got an updated one; she now has the Cochlear Nucleus 7 Sound Processor. In addition, my hearing loss is very similar to that of my dad's sister, Jane. It would be interesting to know how my hearing loss compares to my dad's, but he's stubborn. He is adamant that he can hear just fine, but might I suggest texting him rather than calling him! :)
Ashlee Rose:What do you like and do not like about you're hearing aids/ hearing loss?
Bridget:I like that I now have glittery blue custom ear molds for my BTE Phonak Bolero V70-P Hearing aids, and I like the Bluetooth wireless capability with the Phonak ComPilot. What I don't like about my hearing aids is that since I hear high pitches better, sometimes in social settings I can hear a woman's or a child's voice over the people I am trying to hear because those are the sounds I can hear best. We can't tell the hearing aids exactly what sounds to focus on, so background noises are still an issue.
Ashlee Rose:When you meet people, what is it like socializing? Are there any pet peeves or anything when it comes to communicating?
Bridget: Though I don't think it is obvious to anyone else, I certainly have anxiety about meeting people due to worrying about being able to hear. If someone is soft-spoken or if we meet in a lively atmosphere, I worry that I will struggle to hear and therefore embarrass myself. I also really dread ordering at counters like Chipotle because there are so many sound distractions, I often agree to toppings that I really don't like just to keep the line moving. My pet peeves when it comes to communicating include talking to me as you're walking away, or talking to me before you have my attention. For effective communication, I need to be able to see you speak, and I also need to be focused.
Ashlee Rose:I see you are in the process of getting a hearing service dog, how exciting! What made you want to get one? How is the process going? List the link available for others to look into your profile and donate.
Bridget: I am incredibly excited to be in the process of getting a second set of ears through a hearing notification service dog. I live alone, and I don't sleep in my hearing aids. When I woke up the morning after a stormy night, I had several texts and missed calls from concerned family and friends because they knew I wouldn't hear the storm sirens. Sure enough, after talking with some neighbors, the sirens had gone off several times throughout the night, but of course, I didn't hear them. The research I did on the service dogs, it seemed that having one would be beneficial in terms of my independence as well as my safety. Service dogs for Deaf and Hard of Hearing- they are trained to alert their owners to common sounds like doorbells, oven timers, smoke alarms, telephones, babies' cries, or alarm clocks. Overall, they are trained to make physical contact and lead their deaf partners to the source of the sound. For many reasons, I chose to go with a smaller nonprofit 501(c)(3) organization called Deafinitely Dogs! located in Cedar Rapids, Iowa. Deafinitely Dogs! really cares about the bond between the dog and its person, as opposed to seeing applicants as just a number. Service dogs are expensive; in the midwest, they cost about $25,000. Due to the high cost, I need to raise $10,000 before I will try to start matching with my future work partner. Through friends and family, we are already halfway there since September 2018. As of January 16, 2019, we still need to raise $4,520.00. There are really three ways people can support my service dog campaign: 1.) There is an active GoFundMe Link; 2.) Donations can be mailed to Deafinitely Dogs! 2121 North Towne Ln NE, Suite A, Cedar Rapids, IA 52402 with the code #0102HBE in the check memo; or 3.) Donations can be made over the phone for campaign #0102HBE by calling (319) 930-DOGS (3647). Donations go to the nonprofit as opposed to me, so donations are tax-deductible. For anyone that would like to read more about the organization, the website is https://www.deafinitelydogs.org/ .
Ashlee Rose: Do you have a favorite quote you would like to share?
Bridget: As an ELA teacher, I have many favorite quotes, but the one I would like to share is, "In a world where you can be anything, be kind."
Ashlee Rose:What advice would you give to parents who have deaf/ hard of hearing children and deaf individuals?
Bridget: My advice would be to have patience. Any time there is a struggle to communicate it can lead to frustrations. Technology keeps improving and there are more and more options for support. Learn and grow together patiently in order to reduce those frustrations.
Hearing Impaired single mother and teacher aide at a hearing impaired oral preschool program. An author of "Turn The Lights On, I Cant Hear You".