March 2019 Illawarra Mercury
Berkeley's Michael Drury can now hear with his "whole head rather than half a head" after his second cochlear implant was switched on. The implant activation at MAC Hearing, Campbelltown, came nearly a year to the day since the 36-year-old's natural hearing was lost in a horrific crash at Kembla Grange. Mr Drury suffered crippling injuries from the accident when an elderly driver veered onto the wrong side of the road and straight into the path of his Harley Davidson. He spent six months in hospital and faces ongoing rehabilitation from a fractured skull and two broken legs, but it was his lack of hearing that most affected him. "It had a massive impact not being able to hear at all," Mr Drury said. "I remember saying to all the surgeons and specialists who were treating me, 'I don't care what it takes, I don't care if I don't walk again, I just want to get my hearing back. I just wanted to hear my kids again’."
Mr Drury got his wish after his first cochlear implant surgery in July last year. Immediately after switch-on four weeks later, he was able to hear the voices of his children Pyper and Rhys.
The second surgery for his left ear came on February 4, and his parents Alan and Jackie, and girlfriend Lyndall, were there for the activation. "It was overwhelming, I could hear straight away - there's a lot of fine tuning to be done but it feels like I can now move on to the next chapter of my life. The technology that's available today is just unbelievable," he said, "as is the support you receive."
Mac Hearing audiologist Phillippa Hunt said while switching on the cochlear implant was an exciting moment for people, it was not the end of the journey. "The switch on is just the beginning," she said. "It can even be a bit of an anticlimax because what they're hearing is a bit alien. Michael's case is exceptional because after both the first and second switch-on he has been able to understand words immediately and that only happens in around one in 20 cases. However the words are still running together a little bit so it sounds distorted for him. It will take up to a week for that to settle down, and a couple of months to align both sides."
Ms Hunt praised Mr Drury's positive mindset through the process."He was in a deep, dark funk when he came in totally deaf - then the idea of the implant gave him hope," she said. "His positive attitude, and his refusal to let anything beat him, really helped ensure the process was a success.”