A journey from Silence to Symphony

Dedication: My life journey

In the silence, I found strength. In the darkness, I found light. And in the journey from silence to sound, I discovered the true essence of resilience.” These were the words that echoed in my mind as I embarked on the journey of my life. I started my journey in a world where everything was quiet. When I was just six months old, my parents found out that I had bilateral profound hearing loss. This news was really hard for them and for my loved ones. They lost all their hopes. Yet, amidst the shadows of despair, a beacon of hope emerged in the form of Dr. Meenakshi Wadhera, the founder of Meenakshi Speech and Hearing Clinic who helped us navigate the world of hearing loss.

At one year old, I got hearing aids, which bridged the gap between silence and sound. Every word I learned to speak in speech therapy felt like a victory, but it was a revelation of implants that truly transformed my world. At the age of four, we made the courageous decision that I will undergo surgery, a leap of faith that would forever alter the trajectory of my life. And as I emerged from the depths of anaesthesia, I was reborn into a world ablaze with sound, each note a symphony of newfound joy. Life became a beautiful symphony of sound, and I realized that even in the toughest times, there’s strength to be found.

After getting the implant, my journey wasn’t easy, but it was definitely worth it. I kept going to speech therapy for about another year. Then, I achieved something big: I got accepted into a regular school. It was a huge accomplishment for me. My initial sound processor resembled a walkie-talkie, discreetly tucked beneath my clothes in a small cotton bag, setting me apart from other children. I have vague memories of those days, but I distinctly recall the inconvenience of needing assistance to the restroom whenever the battery drained. Learning to swim remained an elusive dream. As I got older, I started feeling more sure of myself, making friends, and joining in on activities. But back in school, I was really shy. After a few years, I started facing difficulties in class because I could only hear from one ear, missing out on a lot of what was being said. I struggled to understand people in noisy environments and relied on copying notes. That’s when my audiologist suggested the benefits of having cochlear implants in both ears, and we decided to go for it right away.

My life changed again at the age of 10. After getting the implants, I had to go back to hearing and speech therapy because it was hard for me to adjust to wearing the new sound processors. It took me a good 2-3 years to get used to them. You might be wondering if I had two walkie-talkies, but no, I upgraded to behind-the-ear sound processors. Even now, I still have a preferred ear, but I’ve learned that I can’t live without both of my processors. I’ve come to realise that having two is better than just one. It’s similar to wearing glasses when your eyesight weakens. My life became better and better because my loved ones and I never gave up on myself. Throughout the journey, whenever I faced challenges, I made sure to work on them. I believe that hearing and speech therapy is an ongoing, round-the-clock endeavor. I have upgraded my processors multiple times, which improved my hearing each time.

However, during the last two years of school, things weren’t as great. I found myself in different sections from my close friends and felt left out. But when I got into one of the top colleges at the University of Delhi, everything changed for the better. I finally made some genuine friends and had experiences I’d missed out on before. It was the first time I truly enjoyed life. After graduating, I relocated to Mumbai for a year for work, but unfortunately, COVID-19 struck, forcing me to work remotely from home. However, I didn’t let that hinder me. Thanks to cochlear accessories, I managed to navigate online interactions smoothly. Following the pandemic, I experienced interacting with people while enjoying water activities for the first time in my life, which happened during my dad’s 50th birthday celebration.

In 2021, I opted to pursue my post-graduation at the University of Delhi, where I cherished life the most. It truly felt like I was living to the fullest. Following that, I secured a position as a management trainee at one of the top companies.

I’m living life to the fullest, with loved ones who’ve always had my back, no matter what. They mean everything to me, and I couldn’t imagine life without them

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Smriti Rijhwani