Anne

In 2013 I had an operation that changed my life in so many ways – I received a Cochlear Implant in my left ear.

I have a hereditary hearing loss.  I have some hearing in my right ear and am borderline profoundly deaf in my left ear. My father and grandmother were hearing impaired; my sister, nephew and uncle each wear hearing aids.

My hearing began to deteriorate in my teenage years but I did nothing about it.  Hearing was never a problem at home because everyone spoke loudly and clearly.  At school I just moved further towards the front of the classroom.

It was after the time I went to work in a public library that I felt the time had come to trial a hearing aid in my right ear, my better ear.  I found it difficult to adjust to the hearing aid – it picked up so much background noise. Libraries are definitely not quiet places.  I returned the aid at the end of the trial period and began lip reading classes at Better Hearing Australia which were a great help. 

I now wish I had persevered with the aid as my hearing difficulty contributed to my first son not speaking until he was 18 months old.  I couldn’t hear him and would speak for him.  As a result his speech didn’t develop. 

By the time my second son was five, I decided (at my family’s encouragement) to trial a hearing aid again. An aid was fitted in my right ear in 1990.  The second trial was so much better.  Hearing aid technology had improved and as I was no longer working I found my home environment so much quieter, despite having two boys. 

I was coping well (I thought) but after the birth of my daughter in 1992 my hearing deteriorated even more.  If my aid needed maintenance or repair I kept one of the boys home from school to be my “ears”.  One of the best things I did was to get a dog – she became my “ears” too.  She would let me know if the phone was ringing, if someone came to the door or if the postman had come. 

I had updated my aid several times but was still experiencing difficulty coping with everyday activities.  On a routine visit to my ENT specialist in early 2013 he decided that the time had come to refer me for a Cochlear Implant assessment. 

I knew very little about CI’s and thought I was ineligible as I wore a hearing aid in my right ear.  But as I was profoundly deaf in my left ear, he felt I would benefit. 

I passed the assessment, underwent surgery in October 2013 and ted days later was “switched on”. 

The CI has been amazing, so much better than I ever imagined it could be.

Luckily, my husband had retired and was able to assist me in my rehabilitation.  This made a huge difference as I had someone to support and practice with me.  New sounds came so quickly (and unexpectedly). 

A year later I am more confident and independent, I can hear in stereo for the first time in a long time and I don’t need anyone to be my ears any more.