Posted by Pindrop Foundation on 30/10/2015 :: Blog Category Contributors
I was first diagnosed with sensory neural hearing loss at the age of 17, and apart from my mum using a hearing aid in her fifties, my dad and three siblings all had very sharp hearing; so I lived in a hearing world. I remember at that time being aware that I was misinterpreting conversation and this caused me much teenage angst. Still, I was able to enjoy piano and organ playing, singing in the choir, social dancing and take part in musical operas. At the age of 22 I received my first hearing aid in the left ear and several years later in the right ear. During this time, having completed Primary Teachers training, I taught at various schools and even spent a year as a volunteer overseas until the stress of daily noise in the school environment caused me to give up teaching for good.
I married and two children later and with further progressive hearing loss, I was told it would be unwise to add to my family. By this time I was lipreading a good deal and struggling to make sense of speech on the phone; so faxing and later e-mailing and texting became an alternative: definitely not the same as the personal and instant touch of a good two-way chat.
One of the lowest points in my life came when my husband died overnight and I was unable to understand the emergency call person: never have I felt so helpless and useless. Fast forward to the age of 52 and I was a widow with two teens. I had already had two severe life threatening infections in a heart valve and was now profoundly deaf in one ear and severely deaf in the other. Communication in everyday situations became frustrating for me and all those around me, particularly as everything had to be repeated over and over: torment for two quick, busy teens and more stress for me straining to hear and understand. I became aware that my speech was deteriorating and sometimes was told, ‘I can’t understand what you’re saying.’ Group situations were a nightmare and I had to increasingly rely on family and my amazing friends to make decisions and appointments for me. Where once I lived in a world of sounds, now I lived in a world of noise and the cultural interests I once loved had all gone off the radar. My world had shrunk.
When the day came that I was told there were no other hearing aids that would make my life easier for me, I contacted Life Hearing therapy services in the hope that they might be able to suggest some practical aids to enable me to become more independent. Because of the empathy shown by my therapist for my situation and the practical help I was given, my burden became a little lighter.
Next my therapist suggested to me that I be referred for cochlear implant testing. After discussing the process of CIs I willingly gave permission. After all, even if I did lose what hearing I had in my ‘better’ ear, the quality of my life simply could not worsen in my opinion. Now I was in a situation where I was on two waiting lists: one for the CI and one for a heart valve replacement. The question was asked: which of those do you feel will have the most impact on your quality of life, and without hesitation it was: ‘the Cochlear Implant op.’
Now seven years on with one implant I no longer feel exhausted or stressed and it is a joy to feel that I can contribute meaningfully in conversation and activity again and to look forward to each day. I take it as a compliment when friends and acquaintances at my local church say: ‘I can’t believe how clear your speech is!’ And, ‘how buoyant you seem!’ Bless you, Cochlear Implant, for allowing the sunshine back into my life.