I spent the last four days in Washington DC. Why? It was the scene of the annual HLAA Convention. And it was my second one. HLAA stands for Hearing Loss Association of America. Most of you know that I have one. But the HLAA is not just about hearing loss.
It is about a family that is drawn together by a common bond – our cochlear implants. For me, the journey started 5 years ago. And for the first time ever, the four people that have been there from the very beginning….were there. These four were accompanied by countless others that I have met along the way mostly from Hearing Journey and its Thursday night chat room. Both are sponsored by the manufacturer of my implants, Advanced Bionics. And of course, AB’s own very special group of gals.
From the moment the convention began on Thursday to the end on Sunday, we were the only ones who could truly understand and appreciate life as CIers. It is just so difficult to explain and sometimes our own spouses cannot comprehend the chemistry that forges our relationships. Yet, the camaraderie is so simple and tight it only took a few seconds for us to shed our first-time shyness. And from that moment on, we were like a gleeful bunch of happy-go-lucky kids.
We were essentially rejoicing and celebrating the miracle that our CIs have bought us and we also counted among our family, a few who did not have them. The energy we shared among each other was so powerful nothing could get through. We were at the top of our own collective worlds. We laughed, took tons of pictures, shared each others food, told stories, stayed up all kinds of hours, and cried together especially on Sunday. We were brand neutral and it didn’t even matter that AB’s booth was within spitball distance from that of Cochlear’s. And, if AB had brought Bionic Buddy, we would have engaged him in a smack-down with Cochlear’s coocoo bear. Sadly when Sunday came around, there was not one dry eye.
To all of you who were there in person and in spirit, thank you from the bottom of my heart for truly making this a defining moment and wonderfully indescribable weekend. And to AB, thank you for what you truly represent to me and everyone with your cochlear implants…there is no finer company and bunch of dedicated people committed to giving us all what we so desired….Better Hearing!