My hearing journey
As a farmer’s wife I have always led a busy life. When I was in my late 20’s I went through a very traumatic period around the time I had my third child. After returning home with my baby, I began having dizzy spells. My GP diagnosed Meniere’s disease and I was prescribed Betahistine. This wasn’t very effective and my dizziness continued. I later had grommets fitted, which were far more successful and I kept this form of treatment for 20 years as I still had good hearing in my left ear.
Over time, my hearing deteriorated and in 2007 I began having Meniere’s attacks in my left ear. At this point I needed to be fitted with hearing aids. I struggled with ear infections from the first time I tried using hearing aids but persevered with them for 4 years. Before becoming bilaterally deafened, I worked a lot on the telephone. However, with the problems I faced using hearing aids, I became isolated and lost all my confidence. I suffered with depression and required anti-depressants. The gregarious, fun-loving person I once was had gone.
We moved back to Yorkshire, my home region, where the local hospital again fitted me with a hearing aid for my right ear. This boosted my quality of life, but I still struggled with infections in my left ear. I decided to see one of the surgeons privately to find out if anything further could be done for my hearing loss.
I had undergone bone conduction tests that showed I couldn’t hear any better with a bone conduction device. The specialist thought long and hard about my situation and it was the first time anyone had mentioned about a middle ear implant. After so long with negative prospects, this seemed an incredible opportunity and I was delighted that it seemed to be a possibility for me. Naturally when you consider any kind of serious surgery, there are considerations and I needed to ask questions and receive further information. My specialist was kind enough to invite a colleague to discuss the operation and outcome with me. After listening to both surgeons, I was eager to proceed and in August 2013 I had the operation.
Life with my implant
I feel like I have normal hearing again, it doesn’t sound false or amplified like it did with my hearing aids. After being deaf for so long the change is truly phenomenal. Before I had the surgery, I was told to have realistic expectations and that it is a long-term process allowing your hearing to adapt and develop to the new sounds.
When I was switched on, I needed to have my right hearing aid in to hear the sounds. Over the first 12 months there was a very gentle change in my hearing with the Vibrant Soundbridge. I gradually reduced the volume on my right hearing aid and eventually, no longer needed this as I could hear better with just my Vibrant Soundbridge. It is a huge technological breakthrough, I feel like I have never been deaf. Social gatherings with music are still difficult and church can be challenging because the building is quite echoic. However, listening to music for the first time again was amazing and I can now enjoy Radio 4 as before. I would absolutely recommend anyone who has been offered the Vibrant Soundbridge to take the opportunity, it has truly been a life changing experience for me.
my role as a mentor
I want to help other people who have hearing difficulties. I found little support myself and would welcome the opportunity to help others.
my top tip
Take it gently and be patient. I absolutely recommend it without a doubt whatsoever!