I thought living with a hearing disability would be difficult enough.
I was wrong.
By the time I was twenty, I had a pretty good idea of what I wanted to do with my life. So I pursued a degree in Physical Education with the hopes of going on to earn a masters in Exercise Science. I wanted to work with college and professional athletes. Being an athlete myself, I competed in cross-country, softball, as well as soccer. Sports became my passion, and I’d wanted to make it my life. Around this time I learned (finally) how to drive, and attained my driver’s license.
I was ready for the world. To pursue my dreams at full speed.
Then, everything changed.
At first to me, it seemed pretty minor. Getting around in the dark was growing more difficult. I kept bumping into things (and people). Stairs became more of a challenge. Okay, so I needed glasses. No big deal, right?
I went to see an ophthalmologist and was diagnosed with Retinitis Pigmentosa; a degenerative retinal disease which could result in complete blindness.
Being devastated was probably an understatement.
The next month my parents took me to Boston to see a RP specialist, Dr. Elliot Berson, at the Eye and Ear Infirmary. He put me through several intensive tests over the course of two days, and confirmed that I did indeed have Usher’s Syndrome type II which meant that my deteriorating eyesight and hearing loss went together.
My dreams…my career aspirations…
I felt so distraught I gave up on them all.
I did, though, finish college and earned a Bachelor in Physical Education, but that was the extent of it. I never went on. Never moved forward. I allowed my disabilities to destroy my confidence. I’d withdrew within myself, and allowed everything else to vanish.