This month is all about ears. So, I thought I’d tell you my own personal ear story.
When I was little I had a ton of ear issues. Ear infections all the time, pain, and fevers. Probably worried my parents sick. I would get an ear infection, finish the antibiotics and then get another ear infection. By the time I was eight years old I had too many ear infections to count, three sets of tubes put in my ears, and my tonsils and adenoids removed. Plus, my hearing had begun to decrease in my left ear. I did hearing screenings regularly. You know push the button or raise your hand when you hear the beep. I knew I was missing several because there was too much time between the ones I was hearing. And I tried to hear so hard. Because I wanted to be good at hearing.
I loved to go swimming as a child (even thought I was certain a shark lived in the drain of the pool). While swimming, I always had to wear ear plugs because if I got any water in my ear I got an ear infection. I had to really battle this being an embarrassing thing for me. I hated wearing ear plugs. Plus, you can’t hear very well with them in. Two things going against my hearing.
And by the time I was in eighth grade (I was 13), it was a problem. The hairs inside my ear – which are responsible for feeling the vibration of sound which creates hearing – were not damaged. However, I had a hole in my eardrum from scar tissue from all the infections. My doctor determined that he could replace it by taking fat from behind my eardrum (who knew there was even fat there?!?!) and graph a brand new drum for me (this procedure is called a tempanoplasty).
So, towards the end of my eighth grade year I went into the hospital for the operation. And I haven’t mentioned my phobia of needles yet, but it’s a real live thing. And while it has improved, I still am not fond of needles today. They had to shave about two inches of my hair around my ear. And honestly, at the time, this was perhaps the most detrimental thing for me. I was so embarrassed about it. And I also get sick after anesthesia. So, this wasn’t the most pleasant experience. I mean needles, puke, and shaved hair. What more could a teenage girl have to go through?!?!
After the operation I had to wear this plastic bubble over my ear to protect it for several days. And I wasn’t allowed to even get water close to my ear or do anything that would rupture or disconnect the delicate new eardrum. I had to be extremely careful.
And a few weeks after the operation my youth group went on a trip and there was a pool. I was told I couldn’t swim, but I just got in the pool and stood. Promise!
Slowly, but surely, my hearing began to return. And now, almost 30 years later, my ear is doing just fine. I can hear well even though I do hear better in my right ear than my left. And the scar is barely even noticeable anymore.
I tell you my story because this was hard for me as a child. There were several times that I felt shame (even though I probably didn’t know that’s what it was). I didn’t want to have this struggle. I wanted to be normal. Just like every kid out there. We want to fit in and not be judged or laughed at.
Hmmm… it also sounds like me as an adult too. I don’t want to be judged or laughed at either (unless I’m cracking myself up or making a joke – then please laugh – haha).
God actually reserves the right to judge others for himself. It’s not in our job description as humans. However, I think it’s one thing that we all struggle with – myself included.
I might invite for you today to notice someone you interact with – whether in person, on social media, or on the phone – and their differences. And just practice accepting their differences. Not judging it or trying to do anything with it. And you don’t even have to agree with their differences. Just notice and accept. If we all did this a little more I think we might be able to love more, have more peace, and deal with less stress.
I’d love to hear about you and your story of being different. Just comment below and let’s share our differences.