Finding People Who Understand
Pamela RickeyClient, Total Source for Hearing Loss and Access (TSHA)
Pamela Rickey noticed some hearing loss while in high school. As an adult, the condition steadily worsened.
As a young adult, she was diagnosed with neurofibromatosis type 2, a disorder characterized by the growth of benign tumors throughout the nervous system. An MRI revealed tumors on the left and right acoustic nerves in her brain.
Within three months, another MRI showed tumors growing throughout her body, and she underwent a 15-hour brain surgery to remove the tumor on her left side.
Pam had routine scans for the next year. In 2011, a scan revealed that the tumor on her right side had tripled in size since the previous scan just three months before. Because of complications from her first brain surgery, including partial face paralysis, her doctors decided on a gamma knife procedure.
She was told she would probably lose hearing within a year. One hour later, she was totally deaf.
Two years ago, she decided she wanted more independence and to be around a larger deaf community. So she decided to move from Joplin, Mo., to Tulsa where she received assistance from the Total Source for Hearing Loss and Access (TSHA), a United Way partner agency.
“I needed to learn sign language, be around other deaf people and get the equipment I needed to help me function,” she says.
TSHA provided her with a specially equipped telephone and an alarm clock that shakes her bed to wake her, and began teaching her sign language.
She was shy at first, but has blossomed at TSHA, socializing with peers and volunteering three times a week.
“They provided me with a community and helped me become successful,” she says.