Have you ever taken the time to stop and think about the number 30?

Recently, the number 30 became a significant number to me. More on that in a bit.

I started to notice that I was having more difficulty hearing things–my students, the television, conversations, and my family members. People would tell me that they tried calling my name and I did not respond to them. I also had to ask people to repeat things more than once. This became embarrassing, and I could tell that I was annoying people. Being a source of annoyance is something that I am sensitive about and I go out of my way to try to avoid. I noticed that I started to withdraw from conversations. This was disheartening for me, as I am a very social person, and I enjoy the “tennis match” of a good conversation. As an extrovert, I glean energy from social interactions.

I started to see that I had a problem that needed to be looked into. I decided to go for a hearing test. After two hearing tests, an ENT visit, and a consultation with an audiologist, it was determined that I was hearing 30 (that explains the aforementioned number) decibels below where I should be hearing. The medical suggestion was to wear hearing aids in both ears.

At first when I heard this news, I was shocked. I did not see this coming at all. I thought that maybe I would spend my 40s with other health ailments–certainly not as a hearing impaired individual. I thought that hearing aids were more for the older population, not for me.When I had my first hearing test, the technician also agreed and said she was quite surprised that I had hearing loss because I look so young. I had a very hard time emotionally digesting this news. Then I thought of all of my students that I have worked with in my years of being a teacher. I reflected on how brave these students and parents were. As I reflected on those experiences, I was able to muster up courage and take the next step.

Over the years, many students have walked in and out of my classroom. Some of those students needed support in order to learn to their full potential. I remember recommending to parents that their child should be tested. Many times, the parents would be in agreement, but he/she would say, “We do not want our child to be labeled.” I would explain to them that their child was so much more than any label that anyone would try to place on him/her. The reason why children receive support is to help them be able to function to their full potential in an educational environment, and for all of the educators that work with that child to understand better how the student best learns and flourishes. Support can be given in a variety of ways–students may need extra time on tests, directions restated, an extra copy of notes, focusing reminders, to take movement breaks during the day, a pair of glasses, or like me, the student may need a device that amplifies sound.

If I as a teacher was so willing to grant support to my students, should I not do the same for myself? When I thought about that, I decided to get hearing aids. Maybe I could help normalize that we all may need support from time to time, and it is nothing to be ashamed of.

Thanks to my students, I now enjoy a full life that is packed with social activities, good conversation, and I know that other blessings are in my future.

Photo by Anton Sukhinov on Unsplash

Fran Turuta currently teaches at Smithtown Christian School which is located on Long Island, NY. She has worked as a camp counselor, a tutor, and a classroom teacher. She has over 20 years of experience and has taught 4th, 3rd, 5th, and 1st grades. She is a wife and a mother and enjoys standup paddle boarding, running, baking, and reading.