Monday, July 22, 2013

Don't Let Your Disability Stand in Your Way: A Story of Survival and Determination from Pernitha Tinsley

I met a woman on Facebook recently. I'm so very glad I kept that page open and running, or this wouldn't have happened. Pernitha approached me, and we talked, and I was so amazed by her story, I asked her to come here and share it with you. Life gave her lemons more than once. She didn't just make lemonade. She decided to make lemonade and share it with the world.

Please welcome Pernitha Tinsley, an incredibly strong and talented deaf woman who is working on her first book and will soon have a line of  Cancer Survivor T-shirts available for the masses.

"In 1994, I was diagnosed with a profound hearing loss in my right ear and a “slight” hearing loss in my left ear. I knew that something was going on with my hearing; because my high school friends would tell me that I was always ignoring them, when I wasn’t….I could not hear them.

I was 19, and ready to go off to college. I had received several band scholarships for universities in different parts of the world. I chose Liberty University in Virginia. I wanted to be as far away from California as possible. Right before I was due to leave for college my aunt approached me about getting a hearing exam. She mentioned that I kept my television up too loud. I agreed to the exam. I did not think anything of it.

“I’m sorry; you have a profound hearing loss in your right ear and a slight hearing loss in your left ear.” The doctor told me. He apologized, yet there was not an ounce of remorse in his tone. “If you continue in band, you will be completely deaf by the age of 30.”

I cried. I probably shed more tears than rain during a storm. The band scholarship was my ticket to college. Without the scholarship I would remain a victim of the ghetto. I did not care about being in band. I wanted an education with band being my free ride to college. I wanted out of poverty. I had to forfeit the scholarship.

My aunt enrolled me into West Los Angeles Community College, where I majored in Criminal Justice Administration. I was overly happy. My hearing loss was no longer a factor. I would wear the hearing aids and move forward. I was in college working towards becoming a Sheriff, at least that is what I thought.
Hearing aids failed me. I could not hear with them. I had to remove the hearing aids in order to understand my instructor. I quickly realized that the hearing aids were making it impossible for me to hear. When I was out conducting business, I could not hear the person that I was talking to. I tossed the hearing aids for good.
At times, I had a difficult time understanding my instructors. If the students were whispering while the instructor was talking, I could not hear the instructor clearly. I would sit there frustrated. I shifted in my seat. I would lean forward, trying to block out the students, while fighting to understand the instructor. This is how I learned to read lips. I could not hear him, so I would “read” him.

One day, I said to myself, enough is enough. I stood and stopped all conversations in class.
“I have a hearing disability. All of the whispering and laughing around me is preventing me from understanding the instructor. If you are going to talk over him, go outside. Otherwise, be quiet.”
All chatter ended from that day forward. And if the students happened to forget my speech, the instructor reminded them.

Over the years, my hearing has gotten worse. But I cannot say that without mentioning, that at times, I can hear clearly. The doctors are baffled by my hearing loss. Their test results show that I am deaf, however I am not deaf. One would not know that I had a hearing loss if I did not tell them. I used to shy away from the phone, not anymore. If I cannot hear a person clearly, I ask them to repeat themselves.

In 2005, I received a Fingerprint Classification Certificate from West Los Angeles Community College. In 2006, I received a BS in Criminal Justice Administration from California State University Los Angeles. I made the National Deans List every year that I attended the university. In 2012, I received a Mobile Application Certificate from West Los Angeles College. This fall, 2013, I will start the Los Angeles Film School. I am working towards an AA in film. I have been considering a BA in movie production.
I was not able to do anything with the Criminal Justice Degree. I passed all law enforcement exams with a 95% or higher, but I did not pass the hearing exams. There reason for not hiring me? “If a suspect is sneaking up on you, you will not be able to hear them.” Once again, my hearing tried to stand in my way. Well, I did not let it.

I prayed for answers. I asked God to help me. I prayed for Him to show me my purpose in life. I leaned heavily on His word.

One morning, God woke me from my dreams and told me to get in front of my laptop and type. He did not tell me what I would type, He just told me to type. For two months I sat in front of my laptop typing. I allowed my heart to guide my story. Two months later, KARMA was born.

I searched through a book that I had read, Dollar Bill by Joylynn Jossel. I took down her email address and contacted her. I did not know if she would respond. My mind was actually set on no response. I was wrong. Joylynn Jossel responded to my email the very next day, and the rest is history.

Joylynn Jossel became my agent. She provided me with the tools needed to form my own publishing company, Yellow Canary Publishing Group. I self-published KARMA and co-authored a book under the pen name REDD. Years later, I dropped the name REDD, and started writing under my real name, Pernitha A. Tinsley

My first novel, written under my real name is, A Mansion in the Hills of Heaven. It is the first of a children’s series and is dedicated to the children in the hospitals, who are suffering from life-threatening illnesses.

How do you tell a child that their soul will soon return to God? There is no easy way to tell them, is there?
In A Mansion in the Hills of Heaven, I paint a beautiful picture of heaven. There is the Town of Samaria where Mr. Doyle, the Magician lives in an Oreo Cookie house. Toy soldiers march past the swing set and tree house. Flying fish leap in and out of a pond that sits in front of the Oreo Cookie house. There is a baseball field in the backyard of the mansion. Every summer, the children fly to the Garden of Eden and setup camp. If they are not flying around the mansion playing tag, the children are running around the mansion playing hide and seek.

A Mansion in the Hills of Heaven is sure to take the fear of passing out of the hearts of the children whose souls will return to God. Their parents will not have to search their hearts for the right words to say, when explaining that mommy and daddy will see them in heaven. I will be doing book readings at local hospitals in my area.

I am also bringing awareness to breast cancer through my Color Me Cancer Free tees. My goal is to connect with breast cancer organizations and to make the tees available within their organizations. A large percentage of the proceeds will be donated to the American Cancer Society. Both the Color Me Cancer Free tees and all of my novels will soon be available through my website"

Follow her on twitter
@YellowCanaryKid (coming soon)

1 comment:

  1. Pernitha and Tara - This story blew my breath away. I love your attitude and book themes, Pernitha. Maybe you would consider sharing your story for my blog, Blessings!