An alarm sound went off while I was walking along a busy road. It was ear piercing! I swayed a little to one side. Was it a siren? Luckily for me I can “switch off” to these sounds and welcome the silence again. The joys of being deaf! As I did this however, I realised it was a siren noise but in my own ears.. the tinnitus was back again. It’s been 3 days since my cochlear implant operation and tinnitus is common side effect post op alongside balance problems 24/7.
Going back to the beginning in October 2016, the thoughts that led to this new journey…
I learned that by having a cochlear implant, it would mean taking away the residual hearing left in the ear being operated on with no option of going back to hearing-aids. This fact alone scared me, naturally. For someone with a severe-to-profound hearing loss in both ears and having worn hearing-aids since the age of 4, I don’t know any different. I don’t recall getting used to wearing hearing aids at that time and so the thought of learning to hear in a new way 26 years later was incredibly daunting…
As a young child, without realising it, hearing-aids quickly became a part of me, both physically and emotionally. I recently read about how fascinating an organ the brain is, it wants to help you adapt as quickly as possible so as to avoid the body going into constant stress as this would cause ill-health. It creates alternative ways to help you cope through the other senses to compensate for the one that is lost. Hearing-aids are a replacement for a missing sense, the ability to hear. This amazing device along with the skill of lip-reading and watching out for visual cues enables me to hear and fully function just like how we need our arms to write and legs to walk (or vice versa for some!).
I love this photo of an audiologist with his young patient at Trafford General (Manchester). It brings back memories of toys in the audiology room where I would have my 6 monthly hearing test check ups. At 5 years old, when I was first fitted with analogue hearing aids, I was far more interested in the timber men in the boat than what was going on around me!
Hearing-aids have carried me throughout my education, social life, relationships and work life to date. To me, they are a necessity to hear and communicate with the world. They are my best friends so in a way, not wearing both ever again would be like saying goodbye to a long friendship that stood by me through thick and thin.
For most of my life, I never liked the idea of having a cochlear implant and now I’m fully and wholey embracing the process. I even surprised myself with this change of attitude not to mention my friends and family. I’ve often been asked if I would consider getting a cochlear implant to which would only reply “yes, but not for now”. I never liked the look of it on others, I thought it was absolutely huge and that I would be mad to wear something even bigger than my current hearing-aids! I always wished I had smaller ones that I had now. Are we not living in an age where everything technology-wise is getting smaller in size? I was jealous of older hard-of-hearing people and their minute discreet looking hearing-aids. The reason mine have to be bigger is due to my degree of deafness which requires a much more high powered and complex sound system (my audiologists Leah and Rory will be reading so I may have to come back and correct this!).
And so the research begins….
I’ve often wondered how cochlear implants stay on and not fall off easily. I was imagining not being able to wear it while running or doing my favourite exercise classes at the gym. I even have read somewhere lately that the implant will soon be completely inside the head! Not so sure would many agree to that.
Stay tuned for more on how my hearing dropped further and how this led to an important decision that changed everything for me.
Oiche Mhaith ar fad!
(Good Night All)