Tuesday, July 19, 2011


The title does *not* reference a CI failure of any sort.

Remember my freshman year?

Remember how hard I fought for accommodations? How much I struggled?

And then remember sophomore year? How I barely got any sleep? How I accepted the fact I'd just have to work harder than everyone else? How I figured if I just studied hard enough I could make up for what I missed in hearing?

And remember that one class I took for the past two years? I literally spent hours nightly slaving over the textbook reading, carefully taking notes- hoping that what had been discussed in a class of 50+ students would instead be absorbed by reading and rereading the material.

At the end of the two years, I took the national exam. It doesn't really serve much of a purpose besides the opportunity to receive college credit. Basically "testing out" of a college course. It's a culmination of all the work you've put into the class, giving you reassurance that yes, it was worth it.

I didn't think I'd done very well, but I hoped for the best. Scores came in the mail in rounds. I heard as more and more people received their letters and received outstanding scores. They never studied nearly as much as I did, so I thought maybe all my studying would pay off.

It didn't. I didn't just "not do as well I'd hoped"; my score was nauseatingly bad.

 Maybe some people would shrug it off and think "better luck next time."

But I'm not like that. Instead I reflect. I overthink.

I always thought that if I worked hard enough, I could achieve anything. But maybe that's not true at all. Am I completely out of my league? If I did this miserably bad on an exam with a class of 50-something kids, how in the world can I handle competitive college classes that can be 5, even 10 times bigger, let alone years of medical school?

Have I completely overestimated myself?

Don't get me wrong, working hard has gotten me far. On the surface, I'm doing pretty well. I hear and speak, by most standards, well. Working my butt off and barely getting any sleep has allowed me to stay in the top 5% of my class (for now).

Is it even worth it? Where is this going to get me? Are my standards just set too high? If I feel so burnt out now, where am I going to be five, ten, twenty years from now? Will there ever ever be a point where I can look back and comfortably say, "it paid off."?

It just bothers me because I feel like I'm capable of so much, yet every time I try to reach my potential, I can feel the painful hands of hearing loss trying to pull me back. Actually, I can't even completely blame it on my deafness, but, more accurately, society's refusal to adapt to it.

It seems like it would be so much easier to just be average. To be satisfied at the idea of simply passing a course that's on grade level.

But for now I carry on, chin held high, slowly placing one foot in front of the other. My life is so much more than a test score.


  1. Oh I wish I could give you a hug. I had the same disappointment too. I worked harder, cramming every details in my head (i was the only profoundly deaf in public school. no ci ,just powerful hearing aids,either as it was rare and considered risky at the time) and still ended up with the lowest score in class. The other kids barely studied. sometime people dont see the important of classroom discussions (and the danger of FM system filtering them oit if not used properly) but it does make a big difference. Everyday life count too. People call it the Unwritten (or hidden???) curriculum

  2. Yes, life is more than doing well in school, getting the best test scores and such. Believe me, it is not worth the stress.

  3. I was getting worried round about the midpoint of that post that you were drawing some absurdly inaccurate conclusions about your potential and prospects based on one test score that was skewed by difficult circumstances. Then I read to the end and felt much better. Keep your head high; that's where it should be. That said, I think I get what you're saying. It's all well and good to put this one test score into perspective, but you're worried that the difficult circumstances are going to be the constant, the norm. Well, this surely won't be the last time that the struggle to hear and people's unwillingness to accomodate are going to affect you. But having spent the last 22 years of my life on various college campuses, I can assure you that it's not the norm. One thing you'll look for in a college or university is a good DSS office and widespread compliance with required student accomodations. That means that at the very least your professors will wear an FM mic, which will help a lot in large lectures or even in small classes when there's group work or other noise. One thing that college professors love is a smart, dedicated, hardworking student with a good attitude. I haven't met you in person, but it's clear that you have all those qualitites in spades. They don't stand out as much in high school, but in college and med school (or wherever your journey takes you), they will, and they'll serve you well. Maybe the road will be bumpier in some ways for you than for others, but you'll get to take that much more satisfaction from your success.

    Oh, and lots of college instruction is moving toward an integrated technology format, where everything written on the board is automatically captured and posted online, and even entire classes are videotaped and available online. That will give you additional resources for catching everything that happens.

  4. Don't despair. One bad test score does not unmake a future career in medicine or undo all that you have accomplished. There will be other failures, and this would happen whether you have a hearing loss or not. You can't be perfect all of the time - nobody can. You are doing fantastic - top 5% in your class, which I understand is quite large, is a huge accomplishment. So continue to keep your chin up and your expectations of yourself high. But also give yourself a break when you don't do as well as you would once in a while. It happens to everybody. And remember that other profoundly deaf people have become successful doctors and that other CI users a few years older than you are becoming doctors. You can and will do it!

    All the best,


  5. btw, it really doesn't hurt to hire a CART or ASL interpreters, they will help you with classroom discussions. Many deaf used them and it helped them very much. I didn't use them and I kept failing classes.

  6. Anon- Thanks. Sometimes it just feels like all that hard work won't pay off, you know?

    e)- I feel like I will regret working *so* hard. I'm trying to find that happy medium!

    Julia- Yes, that is exactly the point I was trying to make in my (extremely disjointed) post. I feel like everyone keeps telling me "Everything will be better once you get to point X", but so far it just seems worse! I am looking forward to the fact that I get to choose where I attend college (after money and admission standards factor in, of course). I plan on fully disclosing my hearing loss and being upfront about what I will need- I do not want to have to deal with any school that won't be willing to work with me! I have read a lot about the "integrated technology" format. It sounds great in theory, especially the articles that say the future of classroom discussion might be all computer/typing based. My school tried to follow this trend this past year in one of my classes, and I felt that it was slightly disastrous- they really didn't use technology to the students' advantage. They decided that using technology meant sending us off to "explore" (uncaptioned) videos and really uninformative websites to teach us a concept, rather than have the teacher explain it to us. Not only did I get absolutely nothing out of it due to not being able to understand the videos, the vast majority of my classmates just ended up goofing off instead of trying to learn- not that I can blame them. It seemed kind of silly to come to school just to go and do things we could just as easily do at home. Plus, the textbook explained it all so much better! It felt like they were using technology for technology's sake- the way it was utilized did not benefit a single student in my class! Hopefully this is being improved upon. Either way, thank you for your very encouraging comment!

  7. Rebecca-So true- if they can do it, so can I! I guess I get discouraged every once in a while, but I just have to keep on going! Thanks for the kind and encouraging words!

    Anon- While I don't know ASL, I am well aware of CART's benefits! Unfortunately, my school district help up a fight and I ultimately did not receive it. If you look back at my posts from freshman year, you'll find tons of posts about it!

  8. Hey Leslie!! What subject was this?? I don't mean to rain on your parade, but not everything would be down to hearing loss. And...here's a secret, I got a D on my first midterm in calculus in college (and I'm usually an Aish student and am now in a top 5 med school sooo...its really REALLY not the end of the world!! Ive also gotten B's in college and thought I'd NEVER get into medical school..but ah well, here I am). I could have blamed my hearing loss to some extent in not doing on any particular test, and yea, maybe if I had 100% normal hearing I'd probably would have done a bit better, but still...but more than that...I just didn't get calculus. Think about whether its truly your hearing loss here that is making things difficult, or the subject material. Don't get too pessimistic over one test. You don't need to be an A++++++ student and getting everything right in order to prove that you'll succeed in future things. Its ok to fail, and many other people do, or struggle with other things that might not be a hearing loss but something that impedes their studying. THere are students with learning disabilities, dyslexia, ADD, schizophrenia, vision impairment, many many other things (difficult family lives, having to work to pay through college which takes time away from studying etc). What matters is what you make of it and its important to take "failure" with stride, not raging out that the world is unfair and that things wont work out. Like I said, you will make a GREAT fantastic physician one day, and life is hard, but you've done a beautiful job so far, so...dont get too discouraged, think instead how far you've come! Besides, testing out of college material is not recommended..they make you retake it all over again anyways once in college. Just enjoy high school life and don't stress over this!! And you'll be a GREAT doctor one day!!


    Guess who?? :D

  9. They say people with hearing loss struggle with math as well and I am not sure why is that except this:http://www.physorg.com/news/2011-06-doesnt.html or struggle with word problems, or teachers don't do a good job explaining math to deaf students . I fail calculus in college once, but that's because I was trying to figure out on my own from his work example on the board (the teacher always had his back turned on the board)

    The only way to prevent failing is to make sure you are accommodated. Don't let people lead you to believe cochlear implant is all you need.If you have trouble keeping up with your classroom, change it! It's not worth risking your grades and missing out.

  10. sorry, wrong link: here's the correct one http://www.physorg.com/news/2011-02-words-people-mathematical-concepts.html

  11. Oh.. I dont think it was maths per se that I was struggling with. I just didnt have the previous background to do well (ie high school preparation). I got an A in the next semester of calculus. I'm not sure if its "hearing loss" vs preparation and individual talent.


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