Oct 2018 Stuff.co.nz

scotty maclachan

Scotty MacLachan's hearing was so bad he couldn't hear the phone ring.  Rather than cause a fuss, he struggled through conversations by reading people's lips, and was often considered rude when he didn't respond to peoples' questions. It was easier for him to be by himself, he said

"I think I lost a lot of friends because of my hearing. I didn't want to be a hassle to them. I could see that they would get frustrated. "I was always just happy to stay at home, but I always felt like I was missing out. But nothing holds me back now.” One year ago, MacLachlan was selected for a cochlear implant, a surgically implanted device that bypasses the damaged portions of the ear and directly stimulate the auditory nerve.

scotty maclachanScotty MacLachlan has been working at Richardson Racing Stables for two years and he is soon to be married

Cochlear implantation is considered to be the third most cost effective intervention that is available, but only 40 cochlear implants are publicly funded for adults each year in New Zealand. "It changed my life completely, beyond what I expected," MacLachlan said. The Matamata man has been working at Richardson Racing Stables for two years and he is soon to be married.

He first began to lose his hearing at age 14, but it was a bout of the flu at age 21 that really took its toll. "For about a week after, my ears wouldn't stop popping. That's when I realised I was struggling to talk on the phone and I couldn't hear music anymore. "We went to a lot of specialists and got a lot of opinions and they all said my hearing was declining and that I would eventually lose it all."

When MacLachlan, 32, was told a hearing aid would have no effect, he became more isolated.

It wasn't until three years ago that he knew cochlear implants could be an option. He was on the waiting list for another two years.

"My nana loved to call me on the phone and she'd call me all the time. But when I got worse it became impossible," he said. "I think the biggest regret of me not getting my hearing fixed sooner would not being able to say my final goodbye to my nana over the phone.” But now, McLaughlan is getting married, and he's thrilled he'll be able to hear at his wedding. "Especially because there won't be that nervousness when talking to the guests," he said. "Before the operation I really feared being at a social gathering.” He proposed to his partner Liv on her 31st birthday, six months after switching on.

One in three adults who require a hearing aid will have access to one, whereas only one in 20 adults who need a cochlear implant are able to. There are approximately 180 adults currently assessed for a cochlear implant for whom there is no funding available.

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