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Hunt doesn't allow her hearing disability to slow her downPosted Friday, September 3, 2010, at 12:09 PM
Tracy Hunt says she is blessed to have a black colored pet toy poodle named Josey who serves as her alarm system -- her ears to the outside world for almost seven years. (Photo by Nick Schneider)
The 43-year-old woman has been considered deaf since she was 5 years old. Her condition came on slowly and is not improving with age.
Her world is silent for the most part, but she is raising her family as a single mother, despite the physical obstacles she faces every day.
She was born with a birth defect and complications arose after she had surgery to correct the problem. An antibiotic that she was given damaged her auditory nerve.
Tracy, who is unemployed and on disability, is now raising a 17-year-old son, Jeromy, who is a junior at Linton-Stockton High School and a member of the football team, and a 21-year-old college student, Jessica, a junior at the University of Southern Indiana in Evansville.
Today, she wears a hearing aid, does sign language and reads lips to communicate.
She was a good student herself growing up -- graduating from Union High School at Dugger in 1985. She went on to earn a degree from Vincennes University.
She formerly worked for about 20 years with Four Rivers Resources, Inc. and Head Start as a social worker.
Tracy lost her most recent job last November when the state Healthy Families program had its budget cut.
Hunt is not letting her disability take away her joy.
"Over the course of the years, I have just lost more and more of my hearing and they (the doctors) don't know why," she explained. "Some people don't even know I am deaf."
Tracy laughed recently as she said, "I've had people say to me, 'You don't look deaf.' "
Tracy has maintained a positive attitude about her medical condition.
"I am proud of who I am. God made me this way for a reason. A lot of people have suggested I get choler implants, but I am not interested. I don't want to take a chance, because if one thing goes wrong, what little hearing I do have is gone," Tracy told the Greene County Daily World.
Tracy calls herself an advocate trying to educate the public about deafness.
"I've never really considered myself disabled, so when I had to go file for disability, it took everything I had to do it. I've worked since I was 12," Tracy said.
"I have fought and I have advocated that we (people who are deaf) are equal. We are just different. I can do things that you can't do. I've got talents you don't have. So what if I can't hear? Maybe it's a good thing I can't hear everything. The only thing I don't like is people are too quick to judge ... I know what goes on in my life and God knows what goes on in my life and that is all that matters."
Tracy says she is blessed to have a black colored pet toy poodle named Josey who serves as her alarm system -- her ears to the outside world for almost seven years.
"She barks and lets me know that people are here," she noted. "She is not a service dog. She know some sign language. She just knows what I need and she always alerts me when people are outside."
Tracy, a devout Christian, acknowledges she comes from a loving church -- Linton First Baptist -- and she has an extensive support network of friends, who look after her and help her.
Pastor David Tyra also tends to Tracy's hearing need by writing out in long hand his sermon each Sunday so she can read along as he preaches.
"Not many preachers would do that," she says. "He is amazing.
"God is always looking out for me."
The Linton woman is thrilled that she's also going to soon receive some assistance through a state housing rehabilitation grant administered by the city of Linton that will provide new energy efficient windows and roof work for her small home.
"When I got that (notification) letter, I cried," she said. "I always wonder how I am going to make it, but God always takes care of me."
Tracy is a unique person and says, "I do miss hearing some things. I miss hearing music and I miss hearing all those sounds that come together to create something beautiful."
She remains upbeat and hopeful that someday that might change.
"So looking to the future, I won't hear my grandbabies cry or laugh and that does make me sad. Hopefully, though, with the rate technology is advancing, hearing aids will be developed to help people like me and I just might get to hear those sounds someday. But for now, it's not possible and it makes me sad."
Nick is the assistant editor for the Greene County Daily World. He can be reached by telephone at 847-4487 or 1-800-947-4487; by email at firstname.lastname@example.org or on Facebook at http://www.facebook.com/home.php?#!/page...
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