It is 3.20am in Sydney, Australia, and I am awake! Why you may ask?
I can’t sleep because, in 5 days, I am getting my first cochlear implant.
I have waited over 10 years for this moment.
I am profoundly deaf, but it wasn’t always this way. I grew up with normal hearing, until I had a hearing test at 11 years old. They discovered I had a mild to moderate hearing loss that had gone unnoticed for a few years. What a shock! I had always wondered why I didn’t like talking on the phone as much as other people – or why my friends always told me when my name was called in school assembly.
It was because I was struggling to hear! Unfortunately for me, the news was not good – the doctors had no idea what caused my deafness, and they predicted it was degenerative, and would worsen over the years. So began my journey into deafness.
By the age of 18 I was wearing hearing aids all the time, and by 24 I had to stop using the phone altogether. I am now 29years old, and have been ‘profoundly’ deaf for 5 years.
Have a look at my audiogram below to see what it actually means to be ‘profoundly deaf’:
So, I don’t hear much without my hearing aids:
- I can’t hear my alarm clock in the morning. I get my partner Ben to wake me, or I just wake up naturally.
- I can’t hear on the phone or on a mobile. So I use a TTY phone, msn, text, fax and email.
- I can’t hear people’s voices at all. With hearing aids, voices are muffled, so I lip-read.
- I can’t hear music – but I can with my hearing aids. I love music, and even used to work for Rolling Stone Magazine.
- I can only just hear trucks and aeroplanes, but only if they are close by. With hearing aids they are annoyingly loud.
- I can’t hear my own footsteps or my own voice without my hearing aids – and I have to say that is the weirdest feeling.
So, there you go. It’s hard being deaf, but you get by. Sometimes I actually like it.
Haven’t you ever walked down a busy road, or been in a noisy room, or heard a baby crying on a bus, and just wanted to stop all the noise? Well, I can! It’s the best thing about being deaf. One minute there is a racket coming through the hearing aids, next minute, just wonderful silence, and I can think again.
Anyway, back to the story…Everything I had been hearing about cochlear implants was making me think that it might be worth looking into. Afterall – my main wish is to be able to hear people’s voices better, without having to concentrate on their faces so much all the time. It’s tiring reading lips and body language all the time! And some people even talk about being able to hear on the phone again… I can’t imagine it – I have been without the phone for so long, I just don’t really believe it will be possible. But ….. then again …
So, finally, my last assessment at the Sydney Cochlear Implant Centre happened in May this year – and, after years of telling me I was borderline, and was doing quite well without an implant – they finally annouced that, “gee, you are so deaf now, you would probably benefit from an implant, and now was the time to take the leap of faith. ” Ai ai ai! Mon deiu! The time has come!
I decided to start this blog for my friends and family so they could see what I am experiencing when I get my cochlear implant.
It’s probably also going to be a good way for me to vent when the going gets tough! And it most definitely will get tough. Most people don’t realise that an implant does not give you normal hearing, and takes up to a couple of years of rehabilitation before you really start hearing things better.
But I guess the most important thing for me in writing this blog is that I get to keep it as a diary so I will have this experience on record for the future … and, as well, to share those experiences with whoever is interested.
Because if you don’t know much about it – getting a cochlear implant is a huge decision, not one to be taken lightly, and it most certainly does not ‘cure’ deafness.
And my cochlear implant surgery date is Wednesday 1st July… Only 5 days away.
The countdown begins …