Hearing Loss Success Stories of the Ministry
Millie Alanis - Ministry
Millie is a Pastor's wife and a teacher. She resides in McAllen, TX where she works as a Ministry Assistant at a local church. She teaches ESL (English as a Second Language) and life skill classes to a community of Hispanics seeking to develop communications skills and gain confidence in the job market. She also ministers alongside her husband in Mexico, assisting pastors with prayer and teaching the Bible.
Hearing Loss and Hearing Loss Solutions
Millie's first experience with hearing loss occurred in her early twenties. She was experiencing dizzy spells and noticed that she was having trouble hearing. Initially, she attempted to hide her hearing loss — pretending it didn't exist, nodding and smiling to get through conversations — all of which left her feeling frustrated, depressed and hopeless. She feared losing her job, her friends and her life. She reluctantly contacted an Ear, Nose & Throat specialist and was diagnosed with severe hearing loss in her left ear and a hole in her eardrum. The specialist recommended surgery to fix the problem.
Two surgeries later, Millie found that her hearing had not improved, but deteriorated. The surgeries made no impact on her ability to hear and she actually began experiencing hearing loss in her right ear as well, which was being overused to compensate for the existing loss in the left ear. She knew that her only answer was to get a hearing aid. She immediately rejected the idea, feeling that hearing aids are for older people, not a young woman full of life. She feared public embarrassment and knew that the cost of a hearing aid was prohibitive. She further alienated herself from the world, unplugging her phone to evade the issue altogether.
Realizing the toll isolation had taken on her quality of life, she eventually discussed financial assistance options with her doctor. A local rehabilitation center offered to pay half of the cost of a hearing aid. She agreed, feeling a mixture of hope and apprehension. For Millie, life with one hearing aid was challenging. For years, she continued to struggle with holes in her ears, dizziness and balance problems, and surgeries to temporarily fix the issues.
Finally, Millie reached a defining moment in her life. She realized that she had felt like a captive for 30 years and she decided to take control of her situation. She was fitted for two hearing aids and quickly realized the effectiveness of wearing two aids to create balance. Millie states that, "The new hearing aids have totally changed my life. I never thought I would hear with such clarity and understanding."
Impact of Hearing Loss
For Millie, her hearing loss had a profound impact on her self esteem, her dignity, and her daily interactions with others. She found that she was constantly isolating herself from social situations and trying to mask her loss to avoid potential embarrassment. Upon being fitted with an aid, she was overcome with fear that others would realize her "secret," which caused her to further withdrawal from others and avoid coworkers by using vacation time. As a result, she risked the loss of her job, her friends and her quality of life. Her shame and perceived stigma regarding hearing aids was so intense that it took Millie 30 years to find an appropriate solution to her problem.
I strongly encourage anyone struggling with hearing loss to take a leap of faith and set your self free. You can overcome hearing loss; it doesn't have to hold you captive. With two hearing aids, I'm a new person and I'm free to enjoy living my dreams. I now walk in confidence and joy that's beyond anything I could ever imagine. I no longer fear engaging in conversations, I look forward to them. This experience has shaped me to lead a more fulfilling life. Give yourself the chance to live a life you never dreamed of. I know, because it happened to me.
You can email Millie at: firstname.lastname@example.org
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