HLAA Convention afterthought

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!

9 comments for “HLAA Convention afterthought

  1. June 21, 2011 at 8:02 am

    Sam, you said it perfectly. The HLAA conventions are a piece of “heaven on earth” for four days for us. For four days we can laugh, cry, cheer each other on, take pictures, eat, etc. and not have to struggle to understand and be understood. It was so great to see you again! Until next year……. 🙂

  2. Becky Hague
    June 21, 2011 at 11:42 am

    Well said Sam and soooo true!! I truly enjoyed meeting you and many others. It was my first time and I felt like we’ve all known each other. It certainly was a gathering of family (CIers) members! Thank you Sam for your friendship and everyone else who sees this that I have met. Love you all! 🙂

  3. June 21, 2011 at 12:17 pm

    A super post on “after thoughts” about the convention Sam! I have felt like I have “known” so many even before meeting you for the first time. I had no qualms hugging necks and sharing bits of my life with people that long ago became a sort of family for me. I did feel (more than ever before) that “brand names” disappeared among the users. We are all people “hearing again” in a special way that only others who do the same truly understand.

  4. Lisa Seward
    June 21, 2011 at 3:22 pm

    I didn’t go to HLAA this year, and I’m not on chat often, but I thank you all for welcoming me to the family 3 years ago when I lost my hearing and got my CIs. I lurk a lot on HJ and Facebook, and sometimes read your blogs, too. I’m like the out-of-town relative who carries the name and the love but just isn’t around for every reunion or Sunday dinner. Keep welcoming newbies as there is true comfort and healing for those walking the hearing journey. And keep the love!

  5. Sharon Crouch
    June 21, 2011 at 6:53 pm

    This was my first. You put it all together so well with you words of wisdom. It was like a big family full of love and caring for one another. There were no strangers there and brands didn’t matter it was an amazing time of sharing stories,and catching a glimpse down into one anothers hearts. So wonderful!

  6. Evelyn Garadner
    June 22, 2011 at 9:30 am

    Very well said Sam! The excitement building to go to HLAA was HUGE because for those who have attended the convention before, we knew we were in for an amazing time. For those attending for the first time it had to be a WOW event. My CI friends are so dear to me and have helped me on my journey. I know you all understand and that is what makes the convention so special. We “GET IT” about hearing loss. So thanks Sam for the fantastic post and hugs to all of our buddies!

  7. Deb
    June 29, 2011 at 8:00 am

    I said it before and upon reading your blog post again, it is still true: Well said, Sam! I don’t know where I’d be without you and my friends in the CI and hearing loss community!

  8. Jimmie Sorrento
    June 29, 2011 at 8:40 am

    After reading your remarks about the convention
    Have to say awesome. Simply awesome
    I am very impressed with your words

  9. Brenda
    July 6, 2011 at 1:29 am

    Hi Sam,
    I am bi-lateral AB user, first implant in 2006; second implant 2010 and wish I had done it sooner. I feel your glee and joy in your posting and want you to know that in Southern Cal there are four ladies (me included) who meet on a regular basis. We love our ABs, three of us are bilateral and blessed. The fourth has been challenged and we hold her hand and cheer her as she resolves her CI issues. There is no better experience and no better company than AB. Thanks for sharing your stories. Onward with our journeys.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *