For those who don’t know me I actually started the Illawarra CICIDA Support group in 2008 as part of my studies at the University of Wollongong in Population Health. At the time, the group commenced in conjunction with SCIC, Gladesville supported by my original and wonderful audiologist Monica Bray. As the group was so well supportive and sustainable, it merged under the banner of CICADA, servicing recipients in the Illawarra plus some recipients from the far south coast At the time there were no support groups suitable for us overwhelmed recipients (like me!), family or friends. There were no outreach centres. For me personally all my mappings and switch ons were conducted after a (sometimes long) trip to SCIS at Gladesville which at times took 2-3 hours travel.
Fast forward from my first CI in Sept 2004 (right ear) and my 2nd CI in June 2006, a whole new world has opened for me. I like to describe my journey as from a Black and White World, to a World now full of Colour and Sound. What a ride it has been!
A snapshot of my life: I gradually lost my hearing bilaterally, diagnosed at the age of 5 and profoundly hearing impaired by 12. My sister and my only sibling has followed the same hearing loss journey. School years were tragic whilst trying fit in the ’norm' with 2 behind the ear aids. I became the girl who was advance lip reader, the expert bluffer and I had not used a telephone for over 20 years. Happily, I married my school sweetheart in 1983 who was a friend who supported me in my high school years.
In 1990 I made a decision to end my career as a chef due to my hearing loss. At the time, I was head chef in a number of busy kitchens. My many stuff ups contributed to my decision to leave the hospitality industry taking lower paid and under utilised employment in community support. These were the days when mobile phones were a brick, sms was a dream, all my hospitality ordering was done by fax and busy waiting staff would fire orders or changes as they charged through the kitchen.
Then in 1991 I fell pregnant with twins, identical boys. Little did I know 7 months after their birth I would fall pregnant again! Yes 3 children in 16 months, challenging at times but I did have the advantage to being able to ’switch off’ when sounds became tough. I didn’t use a baby monitor but relied on hubby's strong nudge of his elbow when night feeding or change were required- strongly a trait not recommended!
My hearing journey commenced by a chance meeting with Prof Clark (the inventor of the original CI) at Kiama in 2003. Since 2004 and my first implant I: commenced University and completed a double degree, plus some additional Master subjects, learnt to dance, presented a TEDX talk, gained a professional position and signed up with Cochlear Aust as a voluntary research recipient (since 2006). I still continue to visit Cochlear HQ when required, often on a fortnightly basis.I continue to present talks for community group and to various employers on hearing loss, prevention and the Cochlear Implant Program.
But sadly post CI my marriage developed a used by date and hubby and I parted as friends in 2010. New love however has blossomed with a friend whom I have known for over 9 years. The big news is, I will be getting married in April!! Let those bells ring!