So, I am thinking this might be my last ever post on this blog.

I have reached the point where there is not really much new stuff to report.

I know it has only been 7 months since I got the implant (7 months! is that all???! Can you believe it?) But already, I think I have reached the peak, and plateaued. The implant will not get any better or different now in my right ear. It has reached its’ ‘zenith’.

And what a zenith that is.

I can hear on the phone now. Very well.

Normal pjhone and TTY phone now sit on my desk together.

It's goodbye TTY, hello normal phone since I had the implant. However, I keep the TTY on my desk just in case! Can't shake the feeling of needing it there.

So well in fact, that I have had a normal phone installed on my desk at work alongside my trusty TTY phone that I always used when totally deaf.

So, as you can see – the cochlear implant actually did what I dreamt it would do – it allowed me to reconnect with the world on the phone again.

I can also hear a lot better in group conversations and meetings. Where I used to strain to hear someone at the other end of a meeting table, now I can sit back and hear almost every word. That never ceases to amaze me.

The things I still can’t do all that well are:

  • hearing lyrics to music (I can hear them better than I could with the hearing aids, but they are still a bit unclear at times)
  • watching movies and TV – I still need captions if I am going to really relax and enjoy movies and TV – however, I have been to see Avatar and
    TV captions

    I still need to watch TV with captions. Which is why it's so frustrating when they don't have them!

    District 9 without captions, and understood most of it. I can also understand most TV news without captions.

  • I still tend to lip-read in noisy environments, but I can hear people a lot better in noise.

So, if I am going to leave anyone with a word of advice, or perhaps a message to the deaf community, or maybe parents considering an implant – having been through this all before, having met so many people who’ve had implants, having talked to ENT surgeons, doctors, audiologists and researched online – it would be this:

Kate’s Final View on Cochlear Implants

Disclaimer, this is only my view, no one elses. You might think it’s completely wrong, yo! If you do, then leave a comment, but make sure its a clever, well-thought out comment. I’ll delete stoopid ones!

  • A cochlear implant is not a cure for deafness. It is just like a hearing aid, except it is implanted in your head.
  • It does work wonders for some people, and not so well for others, just like hearing aids. To find out whether you are a good candidate, you need to see your cochlear implant specialist. A normal audiologist just won’t cut it – they just don’t know the real facts and figures.
  • It appears that people who go deaf later in life are probably going to benefit most. I was one of those, losing hearing over ages 11-19 years.
  • It appears that people who are deaf since birth, and get the implant after 5 years old seem to find it harder to adjust – maybe because of crucial years of language development have passed? Not sure.
  • From what I have seen, deaf people who get an implant before the age of 5 years old seem to find their cochlear implant more useful.
  • Even with an implant, you will always be deaf, and something like 20 per cent of the time you will not be using it (i.e. swimming, shower, in bed, when playing messy sports), so it pays to learn sign language and lip-reading to use with your family and friends.

I am glad I got the implant. I am also glad I waited because it was an emotional ride. But I would do it all again, definitely. If I had a deaf child tomorrow, I would give it a cochlear implant before the age of 4, teach it sign language and show it how to lip-read.

There, getting off my soap-box now.

Here are my final test results for the 6 month test at the Sydney Cochlear Implant Centre – please note the disclaimer my audi asked that I include on my hearing aid result!

These are the test results for my Phonak hearing aid in my right ear:

These are the test results for my Phonak hearing aid in my right ear: Note: These hearing aids use “Input Compression” or “AGCI” (Automatic Gain Control for inputs). This feature means that the hearing aids vary the amount of amplification according to the loudness of incoming sounds. Soft sounds are amplified more, while loud sounds are amplified less. The complexityof the aids means that they amplify warble sounds used in aided threshold testing differently to running spech. For this reason, aided thresholds measuired with a non-linear aid can only give a general impression about what is audible for complex sounds such as running speech.

Freedom Cochlear Implant hearing test result

This is the test result for my Freedom Cochlear Implant, in my left ear.

My final speech recognition tests were:

Sentences

  • 100 per cent for both hearing aid and cochlear implant together
  • 100 per cent for just the cochlear implant
  • 66 per cent for just my old hearing aid

Words

  • 84 per cent for just the cochlear implant (I was zero per cent when I used my hearing aid)
  • 20 per cent for just my hearing aid

So, I as you can imagine, I am contemplating getting a second cochlear implant.

But I am going to hold off for a few years, only because the hearing aid balances out the sound of the cochlear implant, and makes everything sound ‘normal’.

So I guess you could say ‘watch this space’ – I may come back with a new blog:

“Kate’s Second And Hopefully Final Cochlear Implant”!

Who knows!

Until then, bye, and thanks for reading!

Kate Locke, signing off!

Kate Locke, signing off! That's it from me - have a great 2010!

Kate Locke making acceptance speech at Australian Human Rights Awards ceremony in 2009

Do I look a little nervous? Perhaps! Not every day you have to stand up in front of 400 people to talk for 3 minutes.

Can you imagine my face when they told me I had won? I was in shock.

It was the Australian Human Rights Community Award for an Individual.

It’s a big thing for me, because when you do the sort of stuff I am doing, it’s very lonely work – you think no one notices it. You do it, not for recognition, just for trying to change things for the better.

Plus, I’ve barely won ANYTHING in my life. So this is mega epic for me.

You can actually hear the acceptance speech at the awards ceremony which was held at the Sheraton on Park in Sydney on 10 December 2009.

For all my deaf friends, I have asked them to please put up a transcript for hearing impaired people! And lo and behold, mine is the ONLY one that comes with a transcript. HAHA.

Click on the link below to hear the audio of Human Rights awards speech:

I turned 30 years old this week.

A real milestone for me.

It has caused me to reflect back on my life over the past few years …

I was thinking about how this blog has been exceptionally positive. When I started it in June last year, I actually thought it might be quite sad in tone, or dramatic. It has surprised me how very positive everything has been, how positive I have felt.

I had a very hard time when I was a teenager, and in my early 20s. Many people don’t realise just how difficult deafness can be. It is a hidden disability, an isolating disability, because it is one of communication.

I was in bed a few minutes ago, trying to sleep, but turning all my life events over in my head, thinking about the journey that has brought me here. It’s 4.45am now, and as always I think the best way to cure insomnia is to get up and write about what’s keeping me up! Once I get it out, I’ll sleep well again.

Sometimes I just can’t believe that I considered suicide.

When I was 21, all the difficulties associated with my deafness came to a head, and I decided to kill myself.

I had struggled with university. I didn’t know any other people who were deaf, and I didn’t identify with any deaf people. No one understood what I had been going through. I was too anxious and afraid to tell people how difficult it was.

At that point, closed captioning in Australia wasn’t that widespread, so I was cut off from even little things like watching TV, or hiring VHS’s or going to the cinema. I remember very clearly coming out of a cinema with all my girlfriends, and realising I hadn’t understood most of the movie, and so I couldn’t join in with their conversation afterwards. It was a devastating feeling sitting quietly trying to follow the conversation around me, and not knowing what they were talking about.

I couldn’t afford decent hearing aids. They are so expensive, and being a university student at the time meant I had very little money.

Another issue was uni, where group work and lectures and tutorials were so hard for me to deal with, because I was struggling to hear what was going on. Going into uni every day was stressful like you wouldn’t believe. I remember one tutorial where I was trying my hardest to lip-read everyone – the lecturer, and the students as they made comments. Usually I was silent in these classes, as I wasnt quite sure who was saying what. But one day I really thought I had a relevent and interesting comment to make about a topic we were discussing. So I put my hand up, said my bit, and there was silence. The lecturer looked at me in a funny way, and said: “I just said that.”

I was so embarrassed. I never made another comment or participated in that class again.

These are the awful parts of deafness. It’s a lonely thing to deal with. I wouldn’t wish it on anyone.

It got to the point where I was sure I was going to be dependent on my family for the rest of my life. I mean how could I get any well-paying job being as deaf as I was? How would I ever meet a partner? I didn’t feel like I could relax even in the presence of friends because I was always struggling to hear them, so life was just one big constant source of stress.

I was only happy when alone.

The worst thing was, I knew life hadn’t even really begun. I was 21! I remember thinking: “This is not even the beginning. Life is just going to get harder.”

The way I felt, life was already unbearable… And it was about to get a lot harder.

The night I considered suicide, I remember so clearly.

I’d had a particularly bad night at uni, had a fight with my mum, had almost missed the bus home, had a terrible, awkward conversation with a friend of mine – it was late at night, and as I walked through the darkened Sydney streets towards my house, I said to myself: “That is it. I can’t take it anymore.”

I made the decision then and there that I would kill myself, and that it needed to be that night.

The most enduring memory of that moment is how time suddenly stood still. All I can remember was the sense of calm that came over me. My breathing, my footsteps on the pavement, the bright clear moon high above me, the darkened, damp city streets, the street lights. Everything became acutely clear and still. There was a heavy, calm feeling in my chest, the first time that I had ever felt the jittery feeling leaving my heart and stomach.

That was what frightened me the most. How very calm I was. I was so detached, so rational. It was like a relief.

I realised that this was the biggest decision I had ever made in my life, and there was some strange comfort in having taken control back in my life – I started rationally thinking it through. What were the pros and cons of dying. How would I do it. Was there anything that I thought might improve to stop me from doing it.

I walked and walked the dark streets, and thought long and hard.

As I went through the pros and cons, the thing that caused me to pause was that I didn’t know what happened after death, and therefore, I couldn’t prove that what I was experiencing now would end when I died. If it didn’t end, would I be doomed to be stuck in this eternal moment?

I also knew my mum would be devastated.

Finally I came to a decision. It was a feeling I wanted to end, not my life per se. So I said to myself: “No. Death is not the answer. I will not do it. I will find another way to end this feeling. ”

I walked all the way back to the apartment I shared with my mum, in that calm, still, transcendent state. I realised how close I had come. I walked upstairs, sat down at my desk, wrote my mum a letter telling her what I’d planned on doing, and how I had decided not too, but that I would need help. I then went to bed.

I slept, but it wasn’t like any sleep I have had before. I closed my eyes, and lay in one position all night, neatly under the covers, unmoving until the sun came up. It seemed the night was over in a few seconds. I opened my eyes to find my mum standing over me, looking down at me with stillness in her eyes, holding the letter.

She didn’t look upset or anything. And I remember her saying, I will help you. And I got up, we went and had a cup of tea in the kitchen, and talked. And I knew then that everything was going to be alright.

So it’s been four and a half months now since I got the cochlear implant in my right ear.

I haven’t written an update in a while, because I haven’t felt like there is anything interesting to report!

But I guess what I think of as being boring, my family and friends might find interesting.

So, here we go.

Since I last wrote, I am hearing so much better than before – in fact, my last sentence and word perception test had these results:

  • sentences – 100 per cent
  • words – 87 per cent
  • sentences in noise – 95 per cent

So… yes. It is amazing. I am still profoundly deaf when I take off my cochlear implant and hearing aid, but now I can actually hear stuff when I have them on.

I’ve been having conversations with Ben without facing him, so it looks like I can definitely hear some people without lip-reading.

I have also been still using the web captel trial put on by ACE.  This means I’ve been able to practice using the telephone calling normally, and still listen and hear what people are saying.

And I am pleased to say that I can hear most of what people say on the phone now, without captions. Amazing. People have no idea that they are speaking to a deaf person on the phone.

When I call Ben or mum, I don’t use captions at all. Ben always whines now when I call – “Why do you have to call me all the time now!?” HAHA! He liked it better when I just texted. Now I am calling up to say things like: ” I am walking down the street! What do you think of that! I am passing a garbage bin. What are you doing? Look, a bird!”

And as for other news, I have been elected to the board of ACCAN, which is the Australian Communication Consumer Action Network – this will mean that I can really make it known what deaf people, or those with other disabilities will need in order to stay connected in Australia. For example, people don’t realise that for the Web CapTel trial to work, it is important that you have a stable internet connection that doesn’t drop out. If it drops out you may be logged out or your captions will stop coming through and you will have to reconnect. Imagine having to do that during an important phone call!

I’ve also been nominated and shortlisted for a 2009 Australian Human Rights Community Award for work with deafness and disability in Australia. WOWSER! Doubt I will win (you should see the actual shortlist! amazing people), but it’s still a hugely great honour to be shortlisted!

As for other stuff happening with the cochlear implant – I was over at my friend Georgia’s house the other week, having an ‘infrared sauna’. She runs a natural therapies studio. She gave me a pamphlet to read in the sauna so I could see all the good stuff it was doing. At the very back in tiny letters it said: “Do not use this sauna if you have an implant i.e. pace maker or silicon.”

And I was like “WHAAAAAAAAT!!!!!??” slapped my hand over my ear, and jumped out – thought maybe my head was going to explode! I mean, I didnt have the external bit on, but I thought maybe it might melt my brain, make it come out my ears, and turn me into a zombie.

It didn’t however (that might have been kind of cool), and I checked with Cochlear Ltd later – they said that according to their information from engineers etc, infrared shouldn’t affect cochlear implants (nor should any other sauna – good to know!).

Yay for cochlear implants. Such a new invention, it’s like being the first person to walk on the moon or something. You just don’t know what might happen when you do stuff that is considered normal! like brains exploding from saunas. Awesome.

30 September 2009

Re: Inquiry into Hearing Health in Australia

To the Community Affairs References Committee (community.affairs.sen@aph.gov.au):

I would like to make a submission to the Hearing Health Inquiry.

I am a deaf young professional living and working in Australia.

The current Australian hearing health system is antiquated and not working well at all – it makes being deaf in Australia very difficult and expensive.

For example:

  • my hearing loss was first discovered at age 11, and I was given hearing aids without any sort of rehabilitation or support. it took me ages to get used to them and to wear them. It was a traumatising experience as a child. I didnt wear the ones I was given at 13 until I was 18, because I hadnt been given adequate support in understanding how to use them
  • When I did start wearing them, I received free hearing aids and batteries through Australian Hearing which was fantastic, and really helped.
  • then suddenly at the age of 21, just when I was unemployed and studying full time at university, I was told I could no longer get any services through Australian Hearing
  • I had to find a private audiologist, and many that I had didnt understand my hearing loss well enough, and I bought hearing aids from each of them, when one would have been enough. Each hearing aid is about $3,500 to $4,000. I was also convinced to buy expensive additional gadgets  for up to $1,500, which I have never used, because it was not correct for my hearing loss.
  • One of my hearing aids broke and I had to buy a new one, as it was not covered under private health insurance
  • I had to get a personal loan to pay for it, and then I had to go on Centrelink payments as well, because I had trouble paying my rent.
  • I have just received my first cochlear implant. I had to take out private health insurance in order to get this over 3 years at $90 per month. None of my hearing friends pay anywhere near this amount for private health insurance.
  • I had to take out special cochlear implant insurance at $300 per year to cover my cochlear implant, when someone who has an ipod can get that covered with their home and contents insurance. I have tried to get my cochlear implant covered under home and contents, and all the big insurers refuse to cover them.
  • I’ve had to buy a special TTY phone and special Telstra HipTop mobile phone in order to communicate with people, as these are the only two I can use being a deaf person.
  • Audiologists charge huge amounts for ear moulds when you don’t need them (up to $250), and for repairs (up to $500), and for batteries (they cost me $300 a year).
  • I have been to see the Minister for Ageing about these issues, but as hearing health is under Ageing, it’s not the main part of the portfolio. Hearing health gets lost in Ageing. It needs to be put over into Health.
  • Hearing health is not an ageing issue, I am only 29 years old, it is a health issue. Many of my deaf friends are under 30 years old.

There is an essential inequity as to how hearing health is perceived as compared to other health issues, even though hearing loss is one of the most prevalent health issues in Australia.

According to the Access Economics Report, one in six Australians has some form of hearing impairment, and this is projected to increase to one in four by 2050 (from Access Economics (2006) Listen Hear – The Economic Impact and Cost of hearing loss in Australia).

I would like to see the following changes made to the way hearing health is dealt with in Australia:

  1. Hearing health should be moved out from under the Federal government Ageing portfolio, and placed under the Federal Government Health portfolio, alongside eye health. It currently does not receive the attention it deserves under the Ageing portfolio.
  2. Subsidised government services should be offered via ‘Australian Hearing’ to people between the ages of 21 and 65 if they are on a low income, unemployed, full time students, or part time students. In Australia there is currently no help for these people in affording hearing aids, implants and other hearing health services.
  3. Insurance companies should cover hearing aids and cochlear implants if they are lost or broken. Currently most insurers will cover silly things like iPods, but not a cochlear implant processor, which is $8,000 to replace, and vital for many to be able to hear.
  4. Former child clients of Australian Hearing who are not unemployed, students, or on low incomes should not be suddenly cut off from services of Australian Hearing. They should be able to pay for services to stay on at Australian Hearing with their audiologist.
  5. All hearing aids, cochlear implants and other hearing health aides should be able to be claimed as a tax deduction once someone starts work. Currently you can’t claim expensive hearing aids as a tax deduction.

Thanks for accepting my submission.

Sincerely,

Kate Locke

I just read a comment from a lovely lady I met in Canberra for the Deafness Summit last year – she lives in Melbourne and got a cochlear implant I think either early this year or late last year.

Anyway, here is part of her comment, and I found it really struck me as being one of the unintended benefits of a cochlear implant when it works really well:

….I notice that I am much more likely to speak to strangers- in the past I avoided having chance conversations with people I didnt know. I really enjoy this – it has been an unexpected benefit.
Wendy

This is something that I have come to notice with my cochlear implant.

Where I used to avoid looking at people, even in the lift at work, or on the street, or on the bus … now … I actually see people in a different light, and am much more open, and feeling like I am looking around for a random conversation! It is GREAT. People with normal hearing might not understand that feeling of imprisonment where you can’t really talk to the people around you.

On the bus the other night, everyone was sitting quietly as they made their way home, and behind me, a woman’s mobile phone rang. She started talking on the phone, not loudly, but unbelievably, I could actually hear what she was  saying.

I sat there, this huge grin spreading over my face, as I listened to the voice behind me – it was the first conversation I had ever ‘overheard’, and it was wonderful. Everyone on the bus sat there looking glum as they were ‘forced’ to listen to her ‘boring’ conversation…

But what they don’t realise is that, no matter how boring, these snippets give you a tiny window into someone else’s life! Hell, I know she was discussing the fact that her friend Brian couldn’t make Pub Trivia on Thursday night because he was working too hard in a new job…. but geez …. when you can hear stuff like that, it’s like people around you become more like …. people  … and not strangers.

So, I kind of half swivelled my head towards her and commented: “I reckon you should tell Brian life is too short, he should go to Trivia, they won’t fire him for leaving on time.”

There was dead silence.

People around me on the  turned their heads, surprised that I had spoken.

I heard a giggle.

Then some people smiled.

I turned back grinning hugely.

Then behind me she mumbled into the phone: “Maybe … I’ll tell Brian he should come….”

I felt like saying to everyone: “You people can HEAR!!!! You should all be talking and having conversations with the strangers next to you everywhere!!! Don’t take it for granted! Talk people!!! Talk!!!”

Maybe everyone needs a good bout of deafness to get their humanity working again.

Thought I would post some pictures that I have been taking along this journey.

These ones are from the very first moment Ben set me up to listen to an audio book. It was a wonderful moment! I hadn’t done this since before my hearing  became so bad when I was about  15 years old.

Kate’s Totally Awesome Personal Audio Book Party

Ben hooked me up to the iRiver to listen to the audio book. Here is saying to me, "Can you work out where you are in the book?" And I am trying to listen to see if I can pick up where in the book the audio has started.

Ben hooked me up to the iRiver to listen to the audio book. Here is saying to me, "Can you work out where you are in the book?" And I am trying to listen to see if I can pick up where in the book the audio has started.

Nearly there - what is that word? It sounds like "Chronoguards", but what the hell is a "chronoguard"?? Surely there is no such thing, and I am just not hearing it properly?

Nearly there - what is that word? It sounds like "Chronoguards", but what the hell is a "chronoguard"?? Surely there is no such thing, and I am just not hearing it properly?

Oh my god it IS the chronoguards! I can hear the damn thing!!! OMG it's a miracle! I found where I am on the page!!! Wheeeee!

Oh my god it IS the chronoguards! I can hear the damn thing!!! OMG it's a miracle! I found where I am on the page!!! Wheeeee!

 

 

One happy little vegemite, posing with the first ever audio book that she's listened to since becoming profoundly deaf a decade ago!

One happy little vegemite, posing with the first ever audio book that she's listened to since becoming profoundly deaf a decade ago!

 

 

Experiencing rain for the first time with the implant

And that is not all – here I have a photograph of me listening to rain for the very first time with the cochlear implant while we were having a mini-break in the Kangaroo Valley in NSW, Australia.

I said to Ben: "What's that noise?" And he said "Rain."

I said to Ben: "What's that noise?" And he said "Rain."

"Oh man!!! Rain!! I can hear it!" The first time I heard rain through the cochlear implant it sounded like the tippy top three notes trilling on an electric piano. Totally bizarre, musical and beautiful. he he he!!! I am soooo lucky!

"Oh man!!! Rain!! I can hear it!" The first time I heard rain through the cochlear implant it sounded like the tippy top three notes trilling on an electric piano. Totally bizarre, musical and beautiful. he he he!!! I am soooo lucky!

 

And now, how about two totally unrelated pics – both of Ben – when he came home after managing to buy a whole wheel of French ‘Munster’ cheese for only AUD$5. They usually cost $90-$100, and are difficult to find in Sydney. Yes, what a bargain. He went completely nuts when he brought them home.

Ben showing that there is more than one use for a wheel of cheese.

Ben showing that there is more than one use for a wheel of cheese.

Ben showing extreme happiness in finding a rare cheese for 5 bucks. Can't you just see imagine the squeal he is making! "Eeeeeeee! Cheeeeeeese! And it's allllll miiiiiiine!"

Ben showing extreme happiness in finding a rare cheese for 5 bucks. Can't you just see imagine the squeal he is making! "Eeeeeeee! Cheeeeeeese! And it's allllll miiiiiiine!"

It has been exactly one week since my switch on, and the experience has been astounding – and not always for the good bits, which is obviously hearing things.

I have discovered several weird things about cochlear implants which have confirmed for me that I did the right thing in waiting until I was well and truly ready to deal with everything that came way as a consequence of it. I knew that things would be difficult, but nothing quite prepares you for it.

I’ll tell you what’s been happening.

The Good

Obviously, hearing stuff is the good part! I went to the movies last night to see “Coco avant Chanel” with mum, and with both the hearing aid and cochlear implant, I was hearing the french pronunciations really well. Good old mum, she sat through it with me, having seen it before, because the Spanish film we were initially going to, “Limits of Control”, turned out not to have subtitles! Gah!

I mean, my hearing is getting better, but there is no way I can watch a full movie without subtitles or captions yet. The only other film that was on with subtitles was the one mum had seen. And what a wonderful mum – she offered to watch it again.

So, the good is that I am definitely picking up words that I couldn’t hear before, and it’s clearer.

The Bad

The very worst thing about the cochlear implant is what it sounds like. It’s just not a nice sound. It’s a cool sound – but it’s not a nice sound – if you can understand that. Most of the time I can enjoy it, because I am hearing things I haven’t heard before, and it sounds like sound effects from Star Wars, a film I grew up with, and loved.

But overall, the sound is kind of like a constant tinnitus, a ringing in the ears… And can you imagine having to listen to that all day, every day? Like every sound translated into an annoying high-pitched ringing?

It gets on your nerves a bit.

The other bad thing is that sometimes I can hear people talking, but I just can’t make out what they are saying. It is SO frustrating. It’s like I am on the tip of the ice-berg, listening to a language that I am not very good at, picking up things here and there, but just not being able to follow.

The Ugly

Lastly, the really weird part of the implant – is that now when I switch it off …. it doesn’t ‘switch off’ in my head.

*cue creepy music*

In the shower, without the implant on, it sounds like it is on. I can hear the implant version of water.

In bed at night, I think I can hear voices, or running water as well.

No, the implant hasn’t malfunctioned, or started being controlled by a Russian satellite hovering above earth for use in spying to get state secrets. Though that would be kind of cool.

I have a theory that it is my nerves in my cochlea going a bit nuts from being stimulated so constantly all this week after years of silence. If you consider, from about 5 years ago, right up until the switch on last week, I never heard anything in that ear, and never even got tinnitus. I always counted myself lucky in that respect, because I know tinnitus can drive you nuts.

But now – at night when I take it all off, and go to bed, I lie there listening to the range of sounds going through my ear like a scale, wondering what on earth is going on in there. I have double checked with Ben, and there is no sound when these things happen. It is literally my nerves creating ‘phantom’ noises.

It must be what it is like when you get an arm or leg amputated – but you can still feel it there.

I had been ready for something like this – mentally preparing myself for my ear and brain to be doing weird things – but it definitely makes me glad that I waited for so long to get it. Because I am a lot stronger and a lot calmer now than I have ever been. I have all the faculties to deal with this kind of thing. I have been thinking that it would not be good to get a cochlear implant with a fragile mental state, as it is these things that could possibly push someone over the edge.

Because I can feel myself lying there in the darkness at night thinking “Stop! Stop!” to my ear, and it doesn’t! The panic rises, all your normal senses are out of whack. It takes a lot to lie there and think of something else.

I think that the only thing that would stop those weird noises would be to put the bloody implant back in! GAH!

But, having said this … deep down I know that these ‘phantom sounds’ that my ear is making are actually a good thing. Those nerve-endings must be freaking out in there, being electrocuted ever second of every day just when a noise happens. It really feels like my ear has been ‘awakened’, and now doesn’t want to ever sleep. Like my ear is taking intensive language classes in the middle of the night while the implant is away, so as to be on top of things when it comes back.

The implant is like the school principle with a big long cane ready for whacking my cochlea into shape in time for exams.

It is my body and my brain dealing with something that humans are not normally meant to deal with.

So, I am just trying to be kind to myself – it is interesting just how hard I am being on myself actually. Trying so hard, when sometimes you just have to sit back and let everything flow over you.  

My new motto (well for this week at least) is now “Kate! : be kind to Kate, or I’ll cane you”.

Today it took me an hour to walk to work instead of the normal 40 minutes, because as I walked, I had to keep stopping to work out what the hell it was that I was hearing!

I had taken my hearing aid out, and just had the implant on – and suddenly, as I walked up my empty street, I thought I heard laughing, and then someone screaming. I stood in the middle of Harrison Street in quiet little Cremorne, thinking “It either sounds like a serial killer after his morning coffee, or maybe a Kookaburra – but we don’t really get Kookaburra’s in Cremorne”, and then I looked up – and there it was.

No, not a serial killer, a Kookaburra!

I could hear it! A kookaburra sitting waaaaaaay up on a TV antenna on someone’s house! And the ‘screaming’ was about 6 other little Indian Myna birds attacking it!!! I am not sure I would have heard that with just the hearing aid. So it was pretty cool.

At work, everyone sounds very robotic, but I think that I can hear my boss Penny better! She is certainly typing loudly. HAHA!

My work colleagues sound like 'The Daleks' from Doctor Who! Cool!

My work colleagues sound like 'The Daleks' from Doctor Who. Poor things, I won't tell them, but I prefer them sounding like that. (Ah. They might read this. Well - you guys sound delightful. Please don't exterminate me.)

And then, our brand manager has a booming voice, I didn’t realise. When he started talking, I paused my typing thinking “The head of the Daleks! I can hear the Head of the Daleks!!” And then suddenly, it was like an army of Daleks. But when I checked it out – realised it was just Dean, Penny and Sylvia talking. I think they sound better like that.

I called out t o everyone:  “Hey cool! Dean sounds like a Dalek!”, and I wasn’t looking at him, but I very clearly heard him say, over the partition: “Exterrrrminate! Exterrrrrrminate!”

Though I couldn’t understand what he was saying without lip-reading once he went back to normal talking, so I might have to ask him to always talk like a Dalek when we discuss things. Like monotone: “Kaaaaaaaate! Pleeeeeeeease doooooo thiiissssssssss jobbbbbbb forrrrrrr meeeeeeeee!”

Other cool things are the pings of the lift. I didn’t realise that the lift makes a very quiet ‘ping’ as it goes past each floor up to Level 11. Awesome. I love the lift.

I have to say, I am really happy I did this. But I am also so glad I waited until now. Because as great as I feel about it, it is still hard – walking around and not quite knowing what all the sounds are – voices are still not very clear, but with the hearing aid as well, I think every now and then they are clearer than I have heard them in a long time. Yippee!

And if you are interested, you can read the official media release from the State Minister for Health’s office about the extra funding allocated to the Sydney Cochlear Implant Centre:

Cochlear Implant funding, 22 July 2009

Love the spelling mistake, and anecdotal error about my career: “Kate Loche can now continue her career as a journalist.”

Still, who cares, when it means that there will be more cochlear implants available for people who need them!

It has been three full days since I got the cochlear implant switched on, and boy, is it amazing.

Let me tell you things I have been hearing.

Ben and I decided to go to Kangaroo Valley for two days, to get away from it all, and give me a tranquil rural atmosphere in order to get used to the sound of the implant.

I realised that the drive up was going to be the first time I would be able to experience what music was going to sound like. We have quite a good stereo in the car, and we had a good two hours to go through all the archives.

What a drive.

I had mentally prepared myself for the horror of music. Blips and pings replacing beautiful harmonies that I remember from my childhood before I lost all my hearing.

But it was totally, mega, awesome, cool, futuristic, and the sounds in my head were like the feeling you get after drinking a big cold glass of water on a really hot day – like hearing those sounds was quenching this huge thirst in my ears – the thirst to hear the sounds I had been missing for so long.

It was electronic.

The best way to describe it is as if a synthesiser is playing all your favourite songs.

One of my favourite bands, Cut Copy, sounds GREAT. And of course, Daft Punk sounds flipping awesome too.

Then I listened to my favourite song of all time, kind of my ‘coming of age’ song, which I used to listen to at age 16: Portishead’s “Glory Box” …

And I could hear the voice of the lead singer, Beth Gibbons. Even though I couldn’t understand all of what she said, I could make out some of the words – and I would say to Ben “did she just sing ‘a thousand flowers’ something something????” And he cried “Yes!! She did!” These were words that I had never really heard before (this was the song I had to get my school friends to write out the lyrics for me, so I could sing along to it, even though I couldn’t hear what she was singing.)

I was just so happy. I couldn’t believe it.

So, as we drove I tried to focus entirely on the sound of the music in the implanted ear. The harmony and rhythm of all the different songs sounded like aliens playing electronic keyboards with two fingers at the speed of light.

Weird. But not when you think about how a sound is produced in the cochlear implant.

The implant  and the processor extracts noise and sounds from the environment around you, and then converts it into electrical digital signals, and transmits them to the electrodes in my inner ear. My nerve endings get stimulated electronically, and then send the signals to my brain, telling me its a sound.

Here is a perfect example:

Imagine the sound made by a flute, or maybe a violin. One long continuous note can be emitted, and you’ll hear it like that.

With the implant, sound is more like an individual piano key being played at an extremely fast rate in sequence – so fast, that it sounds like one long, smooth note, because they are played so rapidly.

This means that the sounds are different to me when I hear an old favourite song, but I can recognise it.

This is what makes it so amazing. As another song came on, I said to Ben: “I can hear that this is ‘Saturday’ by Cut Copy playing, but what is that whacky rhythm and melody playing in the background?”

I have never heard that melody of notes before! So even though it sounded very electronic, it was like my eyes were being opened to a tune I hadn’t been able to hear before. It was so worth it.

Then, huge moment … for two hours we’d been listening to music, and it was playing a song I didn’t recognise, but then suddenly, I definitely heard the words “1, 2, 3, 4”, and I turned to Ben, repeating what I thought I had heard: “Ben??? 1234????”

And he looked at me astounded, and yelped “Yes! But you don’t even know this song?”

Oh my god, we were just looking at each other so happy. Then I asked him what the song was. It was apparently ‘The Number Song’ by Cut Chemist. HAHAHAHAHA

The lyrics throughout the song are “1234” all the way through. hahaha!

But I had no idea … I HEARD IT!!!! I REALLY HEARD IT!

OK, so there were other lyrics in that same song that I hadn’t heard, but the fact that I could pick up those particular numbers that I would never normally have heard before just blew us away.

I just hope it will continue to improve… I wanted to include a very interesting analogy by Professor Jennie Brand-Miller, who has been mentoring me through this experience (she has TWO cochlear implants!), and she described the every day learning to hear with an implant below:

Think of your auditory pathways as like a gravel road at the moment … cars can’t go fast on them, electrical signals can’t whizz up them.

But everyday, the workmen are laying down the foundations of a super highway, smooth and capable of cars going 250 kms an hour.  It takes time to  do this … weeks, months and even a couple of years … but you’ll notice the difference … week by week, there’ll be a detectable difference.  You’ll enjoy the journey, no matter what the speed.

Amazingly well described. Thanks Jennie. 

And I believe it.

I am so excited!

I bet you are wondering what it’s like!

One word.

Bizarre.

Totally. And. Utterly. Bizarre.

Triangle percussionists have taken over my ear.

Triangle percussionists have taken over my ear.

Remember playing the ‘triangle’ at school? Well, imagine everything I am hearing translated into that sound. That is the cochlear implant for me.

As I type on the computer right now, it’s as if the keys are either triangles dinging, or perhaps one of those old 80s electronic Casio Keyboards, and every computer key is making a dinging sound. I kid you not. I am really ‘playing’ my computer.

“..Ooooooooooh…”

If I say that, it sounds like one long beep.

When I click the mouse, it is such a clear, nice, satisfying click! I bet that is going to annoy me later!!!

My new favourite words are “wheel” and “forces”. They sound TOTALLY MEGA AWESOME with a cochlear implant.

Actually, maybe another way of describing it is as if Kraftwerk had set up and was translating every sound for me.  

If you have ever heard Kraftwerk, then you will know what I am talking about when I say that it sounds like they've moved into my head.

If you have ever heard Kraftwerk, then you will know what I am talking about when I say that it sounds like they've moved into my head.

So I can hear pings and bips and bops and zings and more pings, some zoinks, robotic gings, paps, whizzes, swizzles, dongs and midges, wasps and bees.

Everything also sounds robotic. Very, very robotic.

So, should I start from the beginning?

We went to the Sydney Cochlear Implant Centre (SCIC) this morning, and it was all a bit out of the ordinary. The NSW State Minister for Health, John Della Bosca, had decided to use my switch on to launch some extra funding for the SCIC’s Adult Program.

Whoot! Extra funding! (They must have read my blog post “How much did my cochlear implant cost me?“.)

So, the Government has agreed to fund something like 15 extra implants for adults on top of the already existing 44. Might not sound like a lot to some, but when you realise that every implant will cost almost $30,000, you can see why it’s a big deal.

So, when we arrived, they had set up the ‘switch on room’ upstairs, with video cameras, so that it was beamed downstairs to the surgeons and ministerial staff, and journalists in the press conference area. Talk about pressure, man.

L-R: Rachel Stawski, John Della Bosca, journalists from the Daily Telegraph, Sharan Westcott, and my surgeon, Professor da Cruz.

L-R: Rachel Stawski, John Della Bosca, journalists from the Daily Telegraph, Sharan Westcott, and my surgeon, Professor da Cruz.

Luckily, Ben and mum were allowed upstairs to experience it with me. And I was REALLY happy that my surgeon, Professor da Cruz, was able to come. He apparently had a day full of surgeries – but managed to slip out for an hour or so in the middle (I am sure no one was left mid-surgery!) and be there for the switch on. How incredible is that? “Oh, just gotta pop back in a few minutes and finish that electrode array placement”. Nice! So was happy to see him there, because he was the one that ‘put it in’ so to speak. Nice that he was able to view it actually working.

So, we sat down and Rachel and Sharan plugged me in. Ben just watched bemused.

Getting plugged in is a bit fiddly. I was pretty nervous at this point. I mean what do you say to waiting media and a ministerial party if you can't hear anything! Gah!

Getting plugged in is a bit fiddly. I was pretty nervous at this point. I mean what do you say to waiting media and a ministerial party if you can't hear anything! Gah!

A switch on usually takes an hour or so. To set everything in the electrodes, they do a test to see if they are all working inside your ear (you can’t hear that test), and then each electrode is activated, and Rachel asked me to tell her whenever I heard three beeps in quick succession, for each tone. She said they would be really soft at first – but I wasn’t prepared for quite how soft. And it wasn’t really sound I was experiencing – more sensations!

So, she started – and I was thinking: “Hang on, what was that? Was that a sound? No?.. No. ..Yes! …No?.. I think? …Maybe? ….No….” it was really hard to tell.

Was that sound I could hear? It was so hard to tell - it just sounded so faint and strange - like nothing I have ever heard, so I wasn't even sure if I was actually hearing anything!

Mum and Professor da Cruz sit waiting to see if I can hear. I'm thinking to myself: "Was that sound I could hear?" It was so hard to tell - it just sounded so faint and strange - like nothing I have ever heard, so I wasn't even sure if I was actually hearing anything!

She turned it up and up and up, slowly slowly slowly. And by golly.

It was sound!

Holy crap, I heard that! It was a beep!

Holy crap, I heard that! It was a beep!

So then of course I started to giggle like a maniac, because I was hearing tones and sounds that I had not heard in a VERY LONG TIME.

Even though they were obviously electronic, it was like they were stimulating my deadened nerves, waking them from a very deep sleep.

So, this wasn’t even the official switch on! This was just mapping them. Once they had all the beeps and tones ‘set’, then they switched it on.

Feeling gleefully happy that I could actually hear tones and sounds that I hadn't heard in ages. Maybe I might be able to play the piano yet!

Feeling gleefully happy that I could actually hear tones and sounds that I hadn't heard in ages. Maybe I might be able to play the piano yet!

Bang!

Noise! Noisy noise! No understanding! (‘Like normal?’ Ben might naughtily suggest?) 

Bells, pings, dings, all put together in one mish-mash so that it sounded like a high pitched static. And this was mainly sensations. I just do not know how to describe it any better. It is not like hearing normal sounds. It was like sensing a feeling in my head, imagine the sound that pins and needles would make if … they made a sound! Or it felt like I had eaten an ice-cream, and was getting an ice-cream headache. But it wasn’t unpleasant, even though it sounds bad.

If anything, I wanted it turned up louder.

It was great to hear those sounds. But totally and utterly weird.

Then came the test of speech.

OK, so I was hearing sounds … But the real question that I always had was … would I be able to understand what people are saying to me? I knew I would get lots of ‘noise’, but would I be able to decipher words and sentences? Would I actually be to ‘understand’ what someone was saying to me?

For the first few minutes, no. I couldn’t even work out a word someone was saying to me. But I could ‘hear’ them.

So when Rachel said, “ok, we’ll check you speech perception in that ear, switch your hearing aid off, and repeat back to me what you hear with just the implant”, I thought to myself – there is NO WAY I will be able to understand what anyone is saying to me. It is all garbled, all high pitched bells dinging. It doesn’t make any sense.

But then, as Rachel did the test, she covered her mouth and said some basic words.

The first word I ever heard in that ear, without lip-reading – was “August”.

To my UTTER amazement, I actually could also hear her saying “January”, and “October” without lip-reading, and some other months of the year.

I mean, I did confuse March with November (don’t ask me how that is possible – not even the syllables are the same!). But, still – I got most of them. Wow. That blew me away. It was hard, but even though I didn’t think I would be able to make out the words – suddenly, there they were. My brain was already going mad trying to process all this new stuff in my head.

But apart from those simple words, I couldn’t really understand what was being said to me. It was just too ‘ding-y’.

My head felt really ‘full’ of something. Nothing was very clear. It just felt full.

I really just wanted to sit down somewhere nice and quiet, and just listen to easy words, maybe just with Ben and me.

But you can’t do that when the world wants to talk.

The Daily Telegraph was there to film a video for their website, and write an article for the newspaper about John Della Bosca's increase in funding for the SCIC.

The Daily Telegraph was there to film a video for their website, and write an article for the newspaper about John Della Bosca's increase in funding for the SCIC.

After describing it to everyone, then I actually went back to Rachel and said “Do you reckon you could turn it up a bit more?? Right now?”

Already my brain had gotten used to it, and within an hour, my ears were wanting more sound.

So, she turned them up higher, and then that was it.

I got the run through of how to work it, how to look after it, all the extra bits and pieces I got in the cochlear pack, how to change the battery case.

And then everyone went home, and my family and I all went out to lunch!

So now I am at home, and I keep hearing something weird, and it is the talking on the TV.

I can hear paper crackling, but it is not very clear yet, just muffled. Of course, the computer keyboard is dinging and dinging like a percussionist, this is the coolest thing ever.

When we were in the car, I didn’t hear any indicator’s clicking like everyone says – but I did hear a strange alarm that went off when we parked the car, and Ben switched the engine off. He told me that it happens every time, it’s apparently to remind you to take the stereo with you! I had not really heard it until now.

So … as soon as I got home with Ben, he said “I’ll read to you!”, and asked me what book I wanted to read. I said “The Cheese Book”, which just lists cheese, HAHA. But he said “how about the Great Battles book?” and looked so hopeful, that I agreed.

So we sat together for about half an hour, with him just reading to me, and me following the words on the page.

It is truly amazing. I am having trouble hearing people’s voices, but that is because they sound like nothing on earth. It is like having to learn a new language. It just doesn’t sound like the english we know. I know that’s weird, and it’s hard to explain, but … you can see why you have to practice for months and months after this, just to be able to understand what people are saying.

Once I heard the bizarre cool way “wheels” and “forces” sound (terms taken and pronounced by Ben so nicely from his “Battles” book – they sound like a xylaphone sweeping up a scale, with robots harmonising in the background), I just realised how crazy cool this whole experience is going to be.

It will be hard.

I will have to totally re-train my brain.

But it’s going to be worth it.

Tomorrow at 11.30am I get switched-on.

I have been waiting for this moment, not just since the surgery 3 weeks ago, but for about 10 years.

I first knew I was a candidate for a cochlear implant when I was about 17 or 18 years old. I always thought to myself  “one day I will get it, but not now”. It was too scary a thought back then.

As the years progressed, and my hearing worsened, I always thought, “if worst comes to worst, and it gets unbearable, I can get an implant”. It was always this distant, frightening aspect of the future – a moment when my hearing loss would get the better of me, and I would ‘succumb’.

In fact, it hasn’t really been like that. I probably could have continued on the way I have been – with hearing aids doing very little! Because I lip-read, I can ‘get by’. But who wants to spent their lives just ‘getting by’!?

Some people might say, why did you wait so long?

Well, if you were the one talking to all the doctors and audiologists about the pros and cons, you would wait too! It is not simple. It is not easy. It requires a lot of planning, there are so many potential risks, you need to have a supportive network of people around you, and unless you have private health insurance like I did, it costs a hell of a lot. It also requires a certain amount of faith in yourself, because it’s also a lot about the way you think that affects the success of the implant.

So, you can see why tomorrow is so huge for me.

All the different people I have spoken to that have implants have all had such amazing and different experiences.

I think the 4 main hopes I have for my cochlear implant would be:

  1. I’d love to be able to hear and understand the voices of my little nieces and nephew. They are all under the age of 5, and they are so hard for me to hear. I want to hear when they ask me stuff, and make comments on things
  2. I want to be able to play the piano again – I had to stop when I was 18 because I couldn’t hear the differences between the notes anymore. That was devastating, so I stopped playing. I’d be so happy if I could play again.
  3. I ‘d love to be able to hear the voices on the radio when I’m in the car, and hear the lyrics to my favourite music. Maybe even watch a movie at the cinema.
  4. And most of all, I’d like to be able to call my mum, and tell her I love her, without having to have someone standing next to me telling me what she’s saying.

If anyone of these things was made possible by an implant, then I will be happy.

But either way, I think that tomorrow will be up there with the other big life moments I’ve had that get mentally added to  “The Grand and Unabridged Compendium of the Historical Moments of Kate Locke’s Life”.

2009’s entry will say something like “Cochlear implant happened, and it was good/bad/awesome/stupid/changed my life/ruined my life/made me grow wings/caused nuclear war/saved the planet (select correct corresponding descriptive term).”

Who knows what the future will bring?

Let’s hope not nuclear war!

To my family in New Zealand, South America, Brisbane and Melbourne – I will post all about the switch on tomorrow night! Wish me luck! And maybe one day I might even be able to call you on the phone.

Have you ever wondered how deaf people listen to music or watch movies or TV?

To understand what they are hearing, they usually need captions.

I used to be able to hear normally… and one of the things I really miss is being able to hear the lyrics to music.

I can hear some music quite well with my one remaining ear – jazz, alt rock, folk. Other music of course sounds horrific (mainly violins/classical, and heavy metal).

Unfortunately, daggy pop-music sounds quite good to my ear – which means Britney Spears, Katy Perry, that Swedish band that sang ‘Barbie Girl’…

However, as a deaf person, I can’t hear lyrics, so, unless I ask someone, I have no idea what they are singing about.

I have a very clear memory of when I was about 17, driving to Newcastle with my mum. She always let me play the music I liked (what a mum!!!), and there was this song I loved called “Remember me” by Blue Boy. I used to sing along with it, because I thought that the words were “meh meh mehmeh- mehmehmeh meh meh meh”

I finally asked mum whether they were actually saying anything, and I remember her saying “Well, let me see…” and she rewound the tape, and went through the entire song, listening, and sang me all the words, so I could lip-read them.

Thinking back – what a wonderful wonderful thing my mum did for me. All the more so because the words are SO STUPID AND ATROCIOUS!

See lyrics below!!!

Remember Me, by Blue Boy, 1997
Chorus:
Remember me, I’m the one who had your babies.

***YES, WHAT YOU ARE READING IS CORRECT: This is the only line in this song!!! It is repeated several times.

I actually preferred the song my way, with all it’s “meh meh meh”s

If you are interested, check out the video clip. This is still one of my all time favourite songs. I wonder if it’s because I can hear the beat so well. I can hear the singer’s voice still, but like I said, it just sounds muffled.

Check it out:

This is a YouTube music video of one of my favourite songs - "Remember Me" by Blue Boy - I never realised how stupid the lyrics were, until I got my mum to sing them to me. Click here to open YouTube and watch it. You will need sound.

This is a YouTube music video of one of my favourite songs - "Remember Me" by Blue Boy - I never realised how stupid the lyrics were, until I got my mum to sing them to me. Click here to open YouTube and watch it. You will need sound.

Now, one other thing you might find interesting – there is a blog out there by a guy in America that is dedicated to captioning all videos online to deaf people like me.

For the first time ever I was able to watch a Britney Spears video with captioning, so I could understand the lyrics. I mean, most of the time I can lip-read Britney. And boy. Does she pronounce her “L’s”!! She sings like she is licking something… Which kind of captures what the whole Britney brand is all about.

But anyway, after watching these captions, I have lost all respect for Britney’s songs. Now I understand why people hate her. She just sounds really stupid!

But hey. Her tunes are good. Pity she doesn’t make up the tunes. HAHA

Check out Britney’s captioned video below!

Hilarious captioned version of "Oops. I did it again" by Britney Spears. Every music video should be captioned, because then maybe stupid lyrics would never be released!

Hilarious captioned version of "Oops. I did it again" by Britney Spears. Every music video should be captioned, because then maybe stupid lyrics would never be released!

I salute Bill Creswell, hero to deaf people, bane of brainless musicians, for Captioning the internet, one video at a time.

Me (mostly recovered!) and my nieces, Nina and Amandine, at Neutral Bay Wharf in Sydney.

Me (mostly recovered!) and my nieces, Nina and Amandine, at Neutral Bay Wharf in Sydney.

I am back to some semblance of normal life, being able to go back to work, and wash my hair. (Although am still without any sound in my right ear. Only 6 days until switch on.)

But having everything ‘go back to normal’ has had the interesting affect of making me much more aware of the changes to my head and ear.

My ear feels tender to touch now – whereas before it didn’t at all!

I get popping in my inner ear every time I swallow.

And I can REALLY feel the lump under my skin where the implant sits now – and I have to say that it is one thing that freaks me out. Sometimes I just walk down the street, with my hearing aid turned off, in total silence, feeling this lump under my skin on my skull, and wondering what it will sound like, what it is doing under there.

I mean, geez. I have a computer in my head! It’s going to take some getting used to.

One other thing that happened too, today – I was ‘testing’ how much I could hear in the implanted ear (basically nothing, until I get switched-on), but I got Ben to sing against my ear, and all of a sudden, I could hear his voice, though I couldn’t make out what he was saying – I could tell the pitch he was singing in, and the rhythm.

I got all excited, thinking that maybe the sound waves were making the electrodes move, and therefore maybe I would be able to hear without powering up the microchip – perhpas sound could be powerful enough to make the electrodes act like normal hair cells?

A dedicated boyfriend: thank you to Ben for yodelling into my ear when I wanted to 'test'.

A dedicated boyfriend: thank you to Ben for yodelling into my ear when I wanted to 'test'.

But then we realised that as soon as he moved away from my ear, i.e. let go of me, and moved his lips away from touching my ear, it was like the sound stopped. I couldn’t hear it anymore. Even though he was still yodelling away like a mad man. (*sigh* what boyfriends will do huh?)

In fact, I was feeling the sound through my body, via vibrations!

Before I got the implant, I couldn’t understand speech much at all in that ear, though I could hear noise – but I didn’t realise because I used to test it by saying “Ben, talk into my ear loudly”, and then I could make out what he was saying (usually stuff that made me blush). However, it turned out I was actually ‘lip-reading’ by the feel of Ben’s lips making the sounds against my ear – because once he moved away – again, it was like suddenly it became muffled.

But now I can’t even lip-read through my ear, but my body picks up the vibrations, and makes me think I am hearing sounds.

Weird I know. The human body is an amazing thing.

The bionic ear will have to contend with Super Ear!! who will win??

The bionic ear will have to contend with Super Ear!! who will win??

The other weird thing is that since getting the implant, the left ‘hearing-aided’ ear has gotten bizarrely super-sensitive. So I am hearing things out of it that I had never heard before. Like bumps and things coming from the apartment above us. Apparently they happen all the time, but I have only just started noticing it!

And my breathing! It sounds SO LOUD.

So, I don’t know, maybe my ‘bad ear’ was holding back the ‘good’ ear, and now it’s finally free, realised its destiny and become SuperEar.

But all this will probably change after the switch-on. 6 days to go.

My name is Kate, I am an Online Content Manager, and I live in Sydney, Australia.

I have been profoundly deaf for about 5 years, having lost my hearing slowly over the years from the age of 11 – I am 29 now, in 2009. No one knows what caused my hearing loss, which is annoying, but hey, what can you do but live with it!  >>Click here to read MORE >>