I read with great sorrow the News Tribune story on page B1 about the rise in measles cases and the number of parents who opt out of vaccinating their children. My letter is addressed to those parents. The measles vaccine was not available when I started first grade in 1951. Like many of my friends, I got the measles. I nearly died. I was left with scar tissue on my eyeballs and inside my ears. I remember being strapped into a chair as my sinuses were flushed with water while I struggled and my mother wept.
I was never told why I had to wear those thick eyeglasses soon after having the measles. I was never told why my school desk was always moved right next to the teachers desk at the beginning of each school year. I had no idea my hearing was any different from anyone else’s. I was never told my diction was different from anyone else’s.
I gradually figured it out and sought hearing aids. I was told hearing aids wouldn’t help. “You have a hearing loss. You can’t amplify what isn’t there.” One of my ear doctors told me “Girl, your ears are a mess!”
I figured out my hearing loss was affecting my children. “She’s your daughter? Of course, I should have recognized the accent.” My daughters always knew they had to look at Mommy and speak to my right ear if they wanted me to hear every word. Both ears were affected, but my left ear was the worse.
As a young adult, I tried to decide whether I should ask God to spare my hearing or my eyesight, as both continued to fail.
I had the measles, as many of my friends did. But, please know, if I ignore you when you speak to me, it’s because I didn’t hear you. If you don’t understand me when I speak to you, ask me again. I count my blessings: constant health care improvements, hearing aids that help me, eyeglasses that help me, friends who tolerate me, family who love me.
Vaccinate? You betcha. Everyone that comes along. I’m on the waiting list now for the new shingles vaccine.