July 2017 Bay of Plenty Times
Papamoa nurse and mother of three Josie Calcott spends her professional and personal life caring for others, and now friends and colleagues are rallying to help her hear properly for the first time.
Josie graduated from nursing college despite being profoundly deaf, which she had been most of her life after a nasty bout of chicken pox at two years old. She had attended mainstream school, and got by with hearing aids and lipreading.
Josie received a cochlear implant in 2012 in her right ear and continues to wear a hearing aid in her left ear. Although the government funds two cochlear implants for people under 19, adults over 19 will still only be funded for one implant. While Josie was grateful for the one implant, which allowed her for the first time to hear her children and understand speech without lip reading, it is still limiting.
At Tauranga Hospital it is challenging for her to take notes from patients while they speak; she has trouble separating single voices in crowds and locating where voices are coming from. "I finally realised why I struggle to hear my three children in the car. My implanted ear is on the right side. The left (non-hearing) side and behind me is where my children are sitting in the car. Every day, they are excitedly telling me a story and I am not able to hear them."
Audiologists have told Josie a second cochlear implant would significantly improve her hearing. She could hear her patients, her kids and everyone else without worrying about which side they were speaking to - without reading lips. So Josie's friends have stepped up to help raise the $40,000 needed for her second cochlear implant. The campaign, Give Josie an Earful, started as a little conversation with a few good friends. One of them put a message out to a small number of people saying let's meet up to talk about raising money to help Josie get her second ear implant. Twelve friends turned up to the meeting. The campaign kicked off with a movie night with two theatres which sold out quickly. Then a Winter's Night at the Races, on August 29, the Tauranga International Marathon (Josie is a keen runner), and a drive-in movie night.
Josie has been overwhelmed by the actions of her friends. Meanwhile, the hearing aid she wears in her non-implanted left ear has stopped working. "I am very lucky to have been given a loan hearing aid until I have the surgery done as a new hearing aid would cost too much just for short term. I need to keep the ear stimulated in order for the implant to work as well as it can.
Thankfully I have my cochlear implant in my right ear to help me know those sounds."
Josie is used to getting by and has relied on her other senses. "I grew up with two hearing aids and relying on lipreading. My eyes were my ears. I read body language too. Today I did a spin class, as part of my training for my marathon, and I took off both my devices as they were getting wet - I know, not very nice. I couldn't hear a thing. I could feel the thumping of the music.
I could see the body language of the instructor, and I could read her lips when I looked at her. She must've thought I was staring! I could very quickly sense her slowing down or speeding up. Once one sense has gone, the other senses heighten. It is always a relief to put the cochlear back on."
Noisy areas can be stressful for her. "I like wearing the hearing aid with my cochlear as this 'rounds the sound off', helping me to cope better with noisy situations. "Those situations are so hard. I'm forever taking deep breaths to keep myself calm and collected."
Although she has overcome so much in her life, the hard working mother and nurse dreams of hearing in both ears. "After living and coping with two hearing aids for 35 years, then a cochlear implant in one ear for the last five years, I would like to be able to enjoy the rest of my life with two bionic ears. So, bring on the second cochlear implant."