You may remember Sarah Churman from a popular YouTube video. She sat in an audiologist’s office, waiting for her implantable hearing aid to be activated. When the “switch” turned on and Sarah could hear, her emotional response brought many of us to ears—Lipreading Mom included.
That’s why I am thrilled for the chance to interview Sarah and talk about her new book describing that experience and others in Powered On.
My book ‘Powered On’ is basically about the beauty of hope. – Sarah Churman
Sarah and I have much in common. We are moms with hearing loss. We both grew up in a small town just outside of Fort Worth, Texas. We like to help people by sharing our personal stories. Sarah’s story, Powered On, tells about her life with hearing loss, as a child growing up in Texas to a mom of two experiencing new sounds with her implantable hearing aids, the Esteem.
Lipreading Mom: How did the process of writing Powered On evolve? Who/what was your inspiration?
Sarah Churman: Right after my viral video I was contacted by Indigor River Publishing out of Florida. They first contacted me via e-mail a couple of times and I blew it off and put it in the catagory with all the crazy requests thinking it wasn’t legit. Once they contacted me by phone, my husband Sloan was like “Babe, I think they are serious and you should give them a call back.” Once doing so and talking with the publishers and getting a good feel for them, I decided to take the leap of faith and go for it. This whole journey I’ve been on the last 19+ months has been run on pure idealogy. After going on the Ellen Show and my mother in law being reimbursed for the money she cashed out to pay for my first implant, then Envoy Medical doing my other ear for free, we thought that was the icing to the cake and couldn’t dream up anything further. We figured it would all die down after that…turns out we were wrong. It only snowballed from there and we sat down one night and had to make a decision: Do we cut ourselves out right then and deny any further interviews, etc., or do we continue on and try to get insurance companies on board? I chose the latter. I’m a Christian, not always a great one, but I try. I felt as though God gave me a platform and an ability to reach people in a unique way, so I jumped on the opportunities that arose from that point on in an attempt to reach anyone I could. Our goal at this point is to bring awareness to the hearing impaired/deaf, awareness to anyone with a disability, and an awareness to the Esteem. Also, for me personally, after the millions of people reaching out to me to share their stories…I realized how I was helping people and I wanted to further that if I could. So all the millions of folks who have reached out to me, shared their stories with me, encouraged me, etc. THEY are my inspiration 🙂
LRM: Tell me more about your Esteem implant video. How did it become such a YouTube phenomenon?
SC: The evening we returned home from getting my implant activated, we had several friends and family waiting for me to upload it to Facebook so they could share in my moment. We got home late at night and I couldn’t get the video to upload because of the file size. I’m not too computer savvy and had no idea how to fix the problem. A friend suggested I upload it to YouTube, then attach the YouTube link to my Facebook page. I thought that seemed easy enough and proceeded to do so. It took YouTube an hour and forty five minutes to upload my video.
I attached it to Facebook and went to bed. Got up the next morning and saw all the well wishes from everyone on Facebook, but it wasn’t until the next day my friend was like “Dude, have you looked at your YouTube video?!? You’re at 200,000 hits!” I was flabbergasted! I asked (my husband) Sloan ‘What are people even tyiping in to find it?!?’ He educated me on YouTube and explained that all it took was for one person to see it, be moved, and forward it on. By Friday morning I was getting a call from the CEO of Envoy Medical letting me know the video had gone ‘viral’ and the Today Show was trying to reach me. It was completely surreal for me. Still is when I think about it. In the beginning I joked that had I known the world was gonna see the video, we’d have made a much longer clip, I’d have worn better clothes and fixed my hair…but so many are quick to stop me and say that’s what makes the video great. The fact that it was ‘genuine’ and ‘in the moment’ and not planned. I don’t know…other than it was meant to be I guess. It was a 90-second look into my life and the joy and 5,000 other emotions I was feeling at that exact moment.
LRM: What are you most passionate about when it comes to hearing loss awareness and why?
SC: Children. I’m passionate about catching children at a young age and educating parents. I truly believe that how a child develops, copes, and learns with a hearing loss or any disability all depends on the parents. I believe in catching it at a young age and working with these children. I’m not saying all children need medical intervention (i.e. cochlear implants, hearing aids, etc.) BUT they DO need intervention in the way of support. They need hands on teaching, they need role models, they need active parents willing to do whatever they can to help their child excel. My parents worked with me early on with my speech. I was fitted with hearing aids at the age of two and started attending deaf ed school. I took speech therapy, speech classes, and my parents were good to socialize me and pretty much treat me as though I had no hinderances. Children can adapt so easily, they can learn so fast at a young age, and I think it’s important to catch them and work with them at this young age. Do hearing impaired/deaf children need a little ‘extra’ help or take some ‘extra’ work, sure! But so do lots of children for many different reasons.
LRM: Is there anything about your life as a fellow lipreading mom that you would like readers to know?
SC: My book Powered On is basically about the beauty of hope. Waking up each day and choosing to have a good day, choosing to find the good in all we do. Because even among the bad, there is good. I truly believe this. There are days where we get down, and that’s normal, but I think often times we forget that WE choose how to react to our surroundings and that is such a vital part to our outlook on life. I never felt ‘disabled’ or cheated, I just looked at myself as being unique and I embraced that uniqueness. As a kid my Dad always told me that God makes us all different. Some have bald heads, some wear glasses, and I wore hearing aids. For me, I didn’t dwell on that, I just went with it. I think our struggles and things we have to overcome are what make us all unique. We can all learn from each other if we try.
Sarah is asking everyone to order her book, Powered On, on Amazon this Saturday, Feb. 9. Read more here.