Kelley's Cochlear Implant Journey
Organized by: Kelley Poppelreiter
October 16, 2016
EVENT DATE Nov 11, 2016
My name is Kelley Poppelreiter, and as my sister would say, I am a walking miracle. When I was 3 months old, I became critically ill. Some doctors said it might have been Agent Orange as my dad had been stationed in Vietnam. After many tests and many close calls, I was finally labeled as having cerebal palsy even though the doctors said that wasn't really true, but was as close as they could get. There were times that the doctors told my parents that there was nothing else they could do and it was up to the good Lord. Many times, my parents thought I would not make it through another night. My mother sang Amazing Grace to me as she held me each night in the hospital. This unidentified disease left me with neurological impairments related to muscle coordination, vision problems and hearing impairments. I stoically wore braces on my legs, went through many surgeries, and was fitted for my first pair of hearing aids at around age 4. I grew up with them and they served me well until 3 years ago when I began losing more of my hearing. At first, denial set in and I continued to try to maintain my lifestyle. It was scary to think of moving from a hearing world into a silent world. I realized I had to do something one day at work while straining to hear my coworkers next to me. My life has been nothing but fighting through difficult challenges and I face them head on: First, fighting for my life, then fighting through the beginning of "mainstreaming" in public schools. Next, I had to fight through my social anxiety and finally, I bulldozed my way through college to become a social worker. I've been helping other people who are struggling for ten years, but now I find myself in a position to have to ask for help from those I love and those I don't even know. From the time I was very young, I have had a difficult time socially due to my hearing. I always tried to hide my hearing impairment and my hearing aids as my other disabilities were very apparent due to having a walker, a cane and a very visible gait issue. A hearing problem on top of that wasn't my favorite thing to admit and I've struggled with that so much more than my other physical problems. It was stressful having to learn to read lips in grade school with the help of a fellow deaf classmate, not understanding the teacher at the front of a classroom, not being able to hear in a group of people at a restaurant and even now, not hearing my clients on the phone, and not hearing my coworkers in a meeting or sitting next to me. In 2013, I had my first cochlear implant surgery on my left ear. Since having the implant, I've been able hear some of the amazing world around me that I missed for so long. I am able to understand my boyfriend talking to me a little better. Sometimes, I can hear the air conditioner outside the window buzzing. At other times, when it's silent, I can hear the clock ticking, the dryer buzzing in the garage, or I can hear dogs barking in the back yard. A few weekends ago, I even managed to understand my boyfriend clear across the house, something I've never done before! Three years later, I'm still processing new sounds! The only downside is that since I've only had one implant, I have competing technologies with one implant and one hearing aid. They don't always work together, making it very difficult for me to process all of the sounds I hear. So while the left implant continues to improve, the hearing in the right ear has become extremely diminished. I want to continue the journey to complete hearing. I want to be able to hear my wedding vows when I marry in the future. I want to be able to hear music fully again. I'm even hoping the phone will get easier at work for me, so that I can hear my clients that need my help. I don't know what will work and what won't work in terms of phones or music but the bottom line is, I need this surgery and I need help from my friends and community to get it done. While the state of Texas helped me finance the first implant, this time around they denied my request and I'm now struggling to find a solution to pay the extra costs involved. I'm one not to usually ask for help but here I am, asking family and friends if they will please pitch in any amount to help me cover some of these costs. I would appreciate any financial support but also welcome well wishes, social support and of course, any prayers offered on my behalf. Thank you so very much for your support. Love each and every one of you.