Glenice Swenson, a member of the Hearing Loss Association of America (HLAA), made her Seen & Heard profile debut in the July/August 2012 issue of Hearing Loss Magazine, which just arrived in member mailboxes. Seen & Heard is a new column I developed for the magazine in 2011. We had 48 members get enthusiastically involved in our first outreach effort and just last week I photographed more than 20 members during HLAA’s Convention 2012 in Providence, R.I. We’ll be publishing one or two profiles (as space allows) in each issue of the bimonthly magazine. Other members previously profiled were Danielle Nicosia, John Kinstler, Judy Martin, Anne Taylor, Sam Spritzer and Jeff Bonnell and Eloise Schwarz.
Join the Hearing Loss Association of America!
Do you have a hearing loss or know someone who does? Consider membership in the Hearing Loss Association of America. Student annual dues are $20, individual annual dues are $35, and family/couple annual dues are $45. Fees outside the U.S. are slightly higher. All memberships include discounts on hearing-related products, convention and special event early bird discounts, AVIS and Alamo car rental, and the award-winning Hearing Loss Magazine. Sign up for membership here.
Photo © Cindy Dyer. All rights reserved.
Owatonna, MN / born Sept. 2 in Grand Forks, ND
WHAT I LOVE MOST ABOUT MY DAUGHTER, JANA… I love many things about Jana and today I love that she chose an education and profession that makes her incredibly aware of what it is like to be hard of hearing. Because she pursued her degree in Deaf Studies and is a sign language interpreter (even though I do not sign) we have had many interesting conversations about subjects regarding challenges of people with hearing loss.
MY HEARING LOSS… Although my mother and my pediatrician suspected there might be an issue with my hearing, I wasn’t actually diagnosed until I was 14. The junior high I was attending did a screening of all 9th graders in preparation for high school. As recommended by my school, my mother took me to our doctor to be checked out and they found I had some hearing loss—possibly progressive. When I was 18, I graduated from high school. I decided I better find out more about this hearing loss diagnosis. At that point it was determined that it was definitely progressive as I had lost more since the diagnosis. At the age of 28, I got my first pair of hearing aids. When I was 44, I had my first cochlear implant surgery. I currently hear fabulously with bilateral cochlear implants. Life is grand.
SAGE ADVICE… During my most challenging years of hearing loss, I did not have a support system other than my hearing family as I knew nothing about support groups and none were readily available. My advice is join HLAA, seek out others with hearing loss, learn what your options are, and use the tools and technology that is so available in this modern day!
MY FUNNY HEARING LOSS MOMENT… After a family gathering, I was out with some of my cousins who I didn’t see very often. We were having a great time in one of the local bar and grill joints when it was time to close. As is the tradition to signal closing, they shut the lights out and without skipping a beat, I said, ‘Oh, no! I go deaf in the dark.’ When the lights came back on, the cousin I had been visiting was looking a little uncomfortable, but chuckling and grinning from ear to ear, was looking at me with an expression of surprise. He had no idea that I had a sense of humor about my hearing loss and need to read lips.
DISADVANTAGES OF A HEARING LOSS… It takes a lot of energy to pursue the same things as hearing people.
ADVANTAGES OF A HEARING LOSS… I don’t usually think of hearing loss in terms of advantages. Communication in our house is a priority. We developed many communication rules and courtesies in our home during the years I was losing my hearing and our daughters were growing up. I think the courtesies enhanced my relationships with my daughters. The fact that I needed to stop whatever I was doing to read their lips and focus my attention on them was a good thing.
WHEN I WAS LITTLE, I WANTED TO BE… in the Navy, a WAVE! My second choice was to be a hairstylist. Due to my hearing loss, I did not get to serve my country as a Navy WAVE. I did go back to school for cosmetology after having my children. I ended up leaving that profession after three years when I had reached the point where I could no longer make appointments by phone.
MY FAVORITE CHILDHOOD MEMORY… is my first bike! When I was seven, my dad had a friend who knew he was looking for a little bike for me. His friend was working out at the Grand Forks Air Force Base when he spotted a little bike in someone’s trash. It was awful, but my dad was great at fixing things up. He worked on it until it pedaled like a dream and it was fast too. He was going to paint it my favorite color—blue. Dad got the primer on it, which was an ugly gray. I was trying it out before he got it finished and discovered how fast it was. When the neighborhood kids saw me riding this bike and how fast I was going, they wanted to try it. The next thing I knew one of the boys got out a stop watch and we were timing each other to see who could get around the block the fastest. That bike was so busy getting ridden that it never got painted blue.
THE FIRST THING I BOUGHT WITH MY OWN MONEY WAS… a bike! I started babysitting when I was about 12. I saved my money until I had enough to buy my first big bike. I ended up finding a used 26” blue bike for $13.
THE HARDEST THING I’VE EVER DONE… When I read this question, the memory that jumps out at me is my last hearing test before I qualified for the cochlear implant. When the audiologist went to get the picture board to give me clues to the words she was saying, I knew it was bad. Getting through that testing session was really hard.
I LOVE THE SOUND OF… I did not hear birds for many, many years. Even with my hearing aids, I never got the songbirds back, only the coo of a dove. With my cochlear implants, I can hear all birds! There is a pair of cardinals that live in my neighborhood and it still chokes me up when I hear them. I love listening to the birds. I also love listening to my grandchildrens’ giggles.
IN MY SPARE TIME, I… I’m almost always reading something. I enjoy getting outside to Trikke, bike, or walk. I also enjoy swinging kettlebells and going to kickboxing.
I MOST DEFINITELY AM NOT… a couch potato, except when I’m working on my laptop!
I MISS… my kids and grandkids. They are spread out from 40 to 1,000 miles away.
HOBBIES? photography, writing, sewing, crocheting
PEOPLE WOULD BE SURPRISED THAT I… like motorcycles and used to have one.
MY LITTLE KNOWN TALENT… This is a new thing that I’m doing, but I’m pretty good at carving a Trikke!
I WISH I HAD A TALENT FOR… public speaking.
YOU JUST WON A $10 MILLION LOTTERY. WHAT HAPPENS NEXT? I would plan a trip to St. Moritz in Switzerland!
MY FAVORITE PLACE TO BE… is on a ski slope when it is 28 degrees, the air smells great and the snow is perfect.
I HAVE A WEAKNESS FOR… chocolate.
I WOULD LOVE TO MEET… the Queen of England.
MY FAVORITE SEASON… is autumn. I enjoy the cooling of the air, the beautiful foliage changes and the anticipation of the holiday season.
I COLLECT… crosses in the forms of home decor and jewelry.
I HAVE A FEAR OF… big bridges.
YOU HAVE JUST WON A $1,000 SHOPPING SPREE TO A FAVORITE STORE! WHAT DID YOU BUY? I would probably get an iPad and an iPhone from the Apple Store.
PLACES I’VE CALLED HOME… Warren, MN; Grand Forks, ND; Crookston, MN; Owatonna, MN
WORKING NINE TO FIVE… carhop at A & W Drive In; waitress at Del’s Coffee Shop; parking enforcement officer for the City of Grand Forks; bookkeeper and teller at Polk County State Bank of Crookston; full-time mother
MY FAVORITE FOODS… chocolate, dark cherries, peanuts, avocado, shrimp
MUSIC TO MY EARS… You and I by Stevie Wonder; Manheim Steamroller’s version of God Rest Ye Merry Gentlemen; Don’t Take Away My Heaven by Aaron Neville; I Believe in You by Don Williams; Somewhere Over the Rainbow by Israel “IZ” Kamakawiwo’ole
LITERARY FAVES… The Bible, The Biography of Hellen Keller, The Biography of Annie Oakley, All Creatures Great and Small, Where Angels Walk
THE BIG SCREEN… Seven Brides for Seven Brothers, White Christmas, It’s a Wonderful Life, The Parent Trap, Sound of Music
THE LAST BOOK I READ WAS… The Secret
MY KIDS HAVE TAUGHT ME… patience.
MY MOTHER TAUGHT ME… to never judge a book by its cover.
MY FATHER TAUGHT ME… to love music.
WHAT’S THE BEST THING SINCE SLICED BREAD? Microwave bacon cooker!
WORD OR PHRASE THAT I OVERUSE… “and stuff”
I SIMPLY CANNOT LIVE WITHOUT… chocolate!
SONG YOU LOVE BUT ARE EMBARRASSED TO ADMIT… the original recording of “I Saw Mommy Kissing Santa Clause” by Jimmy Boyd
NAME SOMETHING THAT YOU HAVE IN YOUR HOME THAT YOU ARE SURE MOST PEOPLE DON’T… antique Lincoln rocking chair
MY FAVORITE QUOTE… “If it was easy everyone would do it. It is the hard that makes it great.” — Coach Dugan in A League of Their Own
MY LONG-TERM GOAL IS… to write a book.
MY BIGGEST PET PEEVE IS… when people assume versus finding the truth.
RIGHT NOW I AM CRAVING… Good Earth original recipe tea.
MY MOTTO IS… never say never.
I WOULD LIKE TO BE REMEMBERED… as a good, kind and caring person.