In 1980, at the age of 13, Troy Bowersox lost his hearing due to spinal meningitis.

“My whole world turned upside down. Some people would avoid communication with me,” he said. “I’d say, ‘I’m sorry, I’m deaf. I have to read lips.’ They would go ‘oh’ and walk away. That was very frustrating.”

Bowersox, of Penns Creek, added that he could have given up, but decided instead to put in the time and effort it took to find new ways to communicate with people.

“I had to learn to speak by feeling my voice and practice lip reading starting with the letters, then words and then sentences,” he said. "I’ve learned to ask questions that can be answered with a short response and use modern technology on my cell phone to communicate.”

Driving required additional adaptations.

“I need to use my eyes and mirrors completely since I can’t hear the sirens of emergency vehicles,” he said.

Since Bowersox reads lips proficiently, he doesn’t use sign language.

“I can communicate with strangers and many won’t even realize I’m totally deaf,” he said.

Bowersox admitted that most people don’t realize how quiet life can be for a deaf person.

“You have no noise waking you up when you are sleeping,” he said. “Many likely don’t realize we can still enjoy music and dance — as long as we can feel the music — particularly the bass for me.”

Bowersox has learned to embrace his deafness and see it as a blessing.

“I believe God had a purpose,” he said, “and it made me stronger in the end.”

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