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.