A ‘Long’ journey

Sophomore Clarence Long shares his story of overcoming his struggles with his hearing.

Clarence Long with his demo hearing aid.

Gabriel di Gregorio

Clarence Long with his demo hearing aid.

Gabriel di Gregorio, Reporter

The Marionette sat down with sophomore Clarence Long for an interview regarding his advanced hearing aid and how he manages to cope with his hearing condition.

Q: What is the problem you have with your hearing?

Clarence Long: I have hearing loss in my left and right ear, but more significant loss in my left. They first detected the issue when I was about 7 or 8 years old, however, we do not know when it started because the doctors do not know if it was a birth defect or if I was dropped on my head. In my first surgery on December 9, 2012, they found a lot of shattered bones in my left ear. They took them out – the shattered bones and replaced them with a prosthesis – very small metal bucket shaped earpiece substituting for the bones I broke in my ear.

Q: Was that surgery successful?

CL: Yes and no. It was successful because the procedure worked. However in January 2013, I accidentally sneezed which caused my prosthesis to tip inside my ear. My biggest fear when that happened was that I was going to be deaf, but luckily that didn’t happen. So in a way, the surgery would have been completely successful had I not sneezed.

Q: Is that the only surgery you had?

CL: No, besides the first one on December 9, 2012, I had my second surgery five to six months after I sneezed and dislodged my prosthesis on June 9, 2013. The second surgery was a success at replacing the prosthesis with a better one. Additionally, since it was the summer my allergies weren’t as bad so I didn’t sneeze as much. I waited almost two years and then I had my third and final surgery on June 26, 2015 where they cleared out all the leftover scar tissues from the second surgery. After the surgery, I noticed my hearing getting worse and the doctors did not know why so in December 2015, I decided to get a new hearing aid which is for more advanced than the one I received in 2009 or 2008 — around that time. That one will come in a few months from now and in late February, I received my second hearing aid which I am using right now and is a demo they sent me in the meantime while the paperwork for my personalized hearing aid is sorted.

Q: What is this thing around your neck?

CL: It’s a pendant where I can adjust the volume of my hearing aid and also adjust the settings. Let’s just say if I’m in a loud environment, I can adjust the speaker so I can reduce background noise so that I could hear the person I’m talking to more clearly. It’s also a Bluetooth device as well and can pair to any Bluetooth compatible device, be it my phone, the radio, etc.

Clarence Long's specialized pendant
Clarence Long’s specialized pendant

Q: What is your biggest struggle with your hearing loss as a child?

CL: My biggest trouble was my self-esteem and my self-confidence. I got my hearing aid when I was in fourth grade and I was really nervous about people calling me names and about losing friends because I was “different. But in reality, I really wasn’t. I just had an extra device that I needed. I used to get bullied and called names, nothing too severe, but once I got into the fifth and sixth grade people started to respect me more. However, I was still bullied occasionally.

Q: Have your hearing issues prevented you from doing anything in your life that you wish you were able to do?

CL: Yes, due to my prosthesis, doctors are afraid of it moving, which could potentially lead to me becoming deaf, or my hearing worsening. Therefore, I can’t participate in contact sports like: martial arts, football, or anything that requires being hit. However, in the seventh grade I started running track, one of the only sports I was able to participate in, and I really liked it.

Q: Are you in track right now?

CL: No, I kind of lost my drive for track. I am currently more focused on my grades. I actually have a 3.9 GPA right now. I am really proud because I have overcome so much in my life, despite all of the stresses. No one can stop me from being who I want to be.