my hearing journey
When I was 4 years old, I suffered multiple ear infections, and was treated with antibiotics. In year 1 at school, my teacher noticed my performance varied depending on where I sat. I had my hearing tested which found further hearing loss in my left ear.
I then spent most of my teenage years not accepting my hearing impairment. I did not like to wear my hearing aids as I dislike anything on my ears. In my early twenties, my hearing loss had deteriorated to severe-profound. The possibility of a cochlear implant was discussed with me for the first time.
I found user groups really helpful because they gave me chance to speak to other people with cochlear implants. Their experiences helped me understand what living with a cochlear implant was like. The main questions I had were general things like; ‘how different is day to day life with a cochlear implant?’, ‘does it hurt?’, and ‘can I wear my sunglasses as well as my processor?’
The audiologists at my implant centre were also very helpful during the process, as was the surgeon.
life with my implant
Since having my CI, my confidence has grown. I am able to successfully run my own dog grooming business which would have been just a dream before implantation. I have also started to enjoy music again and have been to see West End musicals, although multiple singers can be tough to follow.
The first few months of my journey were hard. I had expected more benefits to happen quicker. I didn’t feel fully prepared and thought I had made the wrong decision. Nine months later, I began to notice lots of little moments that have made having a cochlear implant great. Even after having my implant for two years, I am still encountering new sounds. I can now hear my dog snoring! My family can talk to me from another room and I can understand most things they say. This was impossible before having my cochlear implant.
With hearing aids, I disliked having anything in or on my ears, so the RONDO single unit processor was a great wearing option for me. I can wear sunglasses and cover it up with different hairstyles. When on holiday, I used the WaterWear over my processor and swam with dolphins. I could hear every noise they made which was a fantastic experience.
my role as a mentor
I had spent a lot of my teenage years in denial that I was deaf so I can empathise and relate to younger recipients. I found my user group meeting the most beneficial. There is nothing better than talking to someone who knows what it’s like.
I love helping people and want to help others realise that it’s not always easy but the benefits are huge.
my top tip
Be fully informed and speak to lots of people as everyone is different and will have different experiences. Try to be patient, changes don’t happen straight away and there is no guarantee what each person’s journey will be like.
Find out if there are any user groups in your area and speak to as many people as possible. Your journey to hearing won’t be predictable and you should keep an open mind.