I first became aware of my hearing loss back in the mid-1980‘s at around the age of 50, when, one day, speaking on the phone, I switched from my left ear to my right ear, and noticed that I could hear better in the right.Over the course of the following 6 years, I suffered progressive hearing loss. At this time, at the age of 56, I was advised and encouraged to consider using hearing aids and hence, I embarked on a journey into the then unknown world of the trials, the triumphs and lest not forget,the tribulations of wearing hearing aids for almost two decades.
With my very supportive husband, I lead a full and happy life, despite my disability. However, with the passage of time, I started to lose my ability to interact with others. I never fully realised just how much responsibility my husband had assumed, taking care of all administration, communication and phone calls in our home. He was also a tremendous support for me socially, being able to anticipate and identify when I was lost in a conversation and diplomatically fill in the missing parts for me so as to ensure I was able to participate actively in conversation. I found more and more that I was becoming isolated in a group setting and as a result, I started to withdraw socially. I felt left out and alone, even amongst friends, who did not fully understand the extent of my disability.
My life changed dramatically in 2008, when, having lost my husband and to a degree my confidence in interacting one on one, I realised just how isolated I had become. Added to this, I was not able to hear on the phone, nor hear the TV or even go to the cinema. My hearing aids were simply not enough anymore.
I no longer accepted social invitations and only interacted with others when required. I avoided all contact with people as far as possible and my only contact with friends and family was via email and, or SMS text messaging. I could no longer speak to or understand my grandchildren, I had hit an all-time low. I was isolated, very lonely, frustrated, depressed, emotional and often tearful. I had lost my independence and had become an extremely disabled person.
In June 2011, at the age of 76, I consulted a specialist Ear- Nose and -Throat surgeon (ENT) and it was identified that I would be a strong candidate for a cochlear implant. I did not know that this was possible for someone in my situation.
I realised that I had nothing to lose and anything I gained would be an advantage.
The surgery took place on 16th November 2011. Less than a month after the surgery, my Cochlear Implant was switched on, on 12th December 2011. I could HEAR after 2 decades!
I have a new lease on life. I am able to be part of and participate in conversation, I can speak with and understand my grandchildren, now far away and therefore on Skype. I can talk on the telephone and I can hear the TV! My voice sounds normal instead of distorted. I can not only hear birds, but I can identify a number of different bird calls for the first time in more than 15 years.
My friends and family are amazed at the change in me and regard it as a miracle, for me. It’s a wonderful gift, it’s as though I was a chrysalis that has now finally emerged.
I am a very happy and different person since being given a cochlear implant. I am immensely grateful to everybody who made this possible.