COLUMN: Journalist shares struggles, triumphs despite hearing loss

COLUMN: Journalist shares struggles, triumphs despite hearing loss

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Annabelle Messer introduces story of loss, narrative of hope

As the warmth of embarrassment drifted down my back, my face transformed into a beet red color. As the classroom is silenced by the teacher’s voice, a loud, stern voice demands me to sit down.

Just five minutes before the teacher’s rebuke (in front of everyone), I stood up to talk to my friends during break in our elementary classroom. With my snack in hand and not paying attention to anything else outside my bubble, all my classmates sat down without me.

Annabelle Messer | The Feather Online

Messer continues to attend FCS since kindergarten, known as a lifer.

“Annabelle, sit down!” The words stung my ears as I did not hear the two times before the teacher commanded me to sit. I quickly hustled to my seat as if nothing had happened, hoping I could keep my cool without anyone noticing my embarrassment.

We are all born with the need to communicate. Some do it louder than others. But some are more discrete to let others know how they feel. As we communicate more, we have a stronger desire to share our opinion. Whether that be verbal, using facial expressions, gestures, touch, or eye contact.

According to Kids Health, scientists have proven that around 12 months of age, children begin to use their voices and say simple words like “mama” or “dada” but not understand what those words mean. As they grow older they continue to gain knowledge and mimic words they have heard in the past, picking up habits of others around them.

Children know what simple sentences mean by age three, understanding “Put it on the table” or “Put it under the bed.”

Every time a newborn enters the world and before they can go home, a hearing screening is done on each baby. However, when I was born, hearing screenings were optional. I did not receive one.

During a hearing screening test, there are two methods that could be used.  First, the Automated Auditory Brainstem Response (ABR). This test determines how the hearing nerve and brain responds to the sounds using soft headphones and electrodes placed on the baby’s head. The second method is the Otoacoustic Emissions (OAE). Which focuses more on the inner ear. A probe is placed into the ear and measures the echoes of sounds in the ear.

Not knowing I had any hearing loss, I went on to kindergarten at Fresno Christian. During this age (5 years old), learning how to sound out letters of the alphabet and words is critical. I had no interest in doing so and it was very difficult for me to sound out the letters at that time. My reading teacher let my parents know that I had no interest and was not progressing like the other children. She suggested I get a hearing test.

The following is a Feather Instagram post featuring FCS juniors, Annabelle Messer and Megan Leblanc promoting their blog series, Girl Talk, which offers insight into a number of personal topics.

My parents took a precaution and took me to Dr. Lanier, an ear, nose, and throat specialist. Arriving at the specialist, he examined the inside of both my ears and did a quick hearing test. Following this appointment, Linear referred my parents to Valley Children Hospital for an intense hearing test.

During the test, different clicks and sounds were set off into my ears. I walked into a small dark room with a single chair in the middle and a glass window leading to a woman sitting on the other side. In front of me were different colored sets of headphones. She voiced what headphone to put into my ear and would ask if I could hear the sound. Continuing with this, she would say a word and I would repeat the word back.

The hearing test continued with a sound equivalent to a gunshot shooting into my left ear. With my parents outside the room feeling the vibration of the sound and me still in the chair not even flinching. This gave the conclusion that my left ear had some major hearing loss.

Not knowing what was wrong from the outside, I then experienced a cat scan. Hand in hand with my mom and walking into the scanning room, I was terrified to lay down in the tube staring me in the face. My mom showing me it was not scary, laid down in the tube first, I then followed in her footsteps and trusted her.

Avery Jones | The Feather Online

Besides writing for The Feather, Messer enjoys playing varsity soccer for school and a club team.

After a week of waiting, another meeting was scheduled with Dr. Lanier. He explained that my left inner ear never developed while I was a baby. He continued saying, that I was completely deaf in my left ear and that it was known as a dead ear. Meaning no hearing aids, or cochlear implants could assist my loss of hearing.

Looking back my parents realized that as a baby I would sleep easily through the night on my hearing ear and no noise would wake me. As I also have a different colored eye (half brown and half green), this connects with my deafness. I have type two Waardenburg syndrome. A genetic syndrome condition including hearing loss, and different coloration in skin, hair, or eyes. Three types of Waardenburg syndrome exist and was first described in 1951.

Growing up like this was normal to me. Everyone always asked if it was different from hearing with two ears, I would reply with, “I do not know any different from hearing with only one ear.”

I sometimes do not hear what people say and ask them to repeat it. But, I would not change it for the world. God created me perfectly in his image and how he wanted me to be. Everyone differs from each other in special ways, it makes me different. All of us are special in our own way. I have come to that realization. Will you?

For more columns, check out COLUMN: Parent grateful for FCS’ impact on community, family, and COLUMN: Principal Amy Deffenbacher reflects, shares attributes of small school community.

Annabelle Messer can be reached via email and Twitter @MesserAnnabelle.

Follow The Feather via Twitter @thefeather, Instagram @thefeatheronline and Facebook @thefeatheronline.

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By |2019-05-03T15:37:45-07:00April 26th, 2019|Column, Opinions|

About the Author:

Annabelle Messer
“But blessed is the one who trusts in the Lord, whose confidence is in him.” Jeremiah 17:7. Senior Annabelle Messer, second-year Feather student, plans to improve her photography skills and step out of her comfort zone as well as, add to her reporter skills this year. As the hardships and storms come her way, Messer tries to live by the word trust, knowing that God has a plan. While maintaining a 4.17 GPA, she involves herself with California Scholarship Federation, sister to sister, and The Feather Online. On her free time you can find Messer either on the soccer field or hanging with her best friends. After high school Messer plans to continue her schooling to study kinesiology while attending a four-year university.


  1. Megan LeBlanc
    Megan LeBlanc April 29, 2019 at 8:49 pm - Reply

    This article is amazing Annabelle!! I am so proud of you!!

  2. Silva Emerian
    Silva Emerian May 1, 2019 at 12:59 pm - Reply

    “God created me perfectly in his image and how he wanted me to be.” AMEN Annabelle! You are perfect exactly how you are! Thank you for sharing your personal journey and how it has strengthened your walk with Christ.

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    Madi Bryant October 1, 2019 at 9:32 pm - Reply

    Thank you for sharing Annabelle! I’m so proud of you!! You have overcome so much and are such an amazing person.

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