My Hearing Declined From Severe To Profound Deafness
I am profoundly deaf with a cochlear implant. I haven’t always been profoundly deaf; if you read on, you’ll find out a little bit more about me!
When I was seven, we found out that I was profoundly deaf in my left ear. I remember it well: my mum was so upset but I wasn’t sure what all the fuss was about! She treated me to a McDonalds Happy Meal on the way home. This would become a special treat whenever I had to go for a hearing test. They did not fit me with a hearing aid and my right ear was fine, so I managed. I never saw myself any different to any other person, but I got extra time in my exams, which was a massive bonus!
When I went to university at eighteen, I started to suffer with bad tinnitus. I started to notice that sometimes I would struggle to hear. When I went for a test, they gave me an in-the-ear hearing aid on which I could adjust the volume. I loved how discreet it was. As the years went on my hearing would fluctuate quite a lot with the tinnitus really affecting what I was hearing. Although my hearing did decline gradually over time, I was adamant I was just having good days and bad days. By my mid to late twenties I was wearing my hearing aid when I felt I needed it.
Summer 2016 I had a miscarriage. After this my hearing declined from severe to profound deafness. At the time, I was working in a primary school. I remember watching the children’s Christmas play in the afternoon and following it okay with a script. By the evening performance I could barely hear anything at all, even with the script. I could no longer hear children younger than seven. I found being in busy places unbearable due to the noise. I could no longer work in a classroom setting and could only function one-to-one. I lost the ability to hear music. I couldn’t use the telephone. I couldn’t have a conversation in the dark as I was reliant on lip-reading. The list is endless! My hearing aid was no longer helping me as it wasn’t providing me with the sound I needed to function in my daily life. I withdrew from social settings and I watched people withdrawing from me as communication was becoming a real barrier. I began to feel incredibly isolated, frustrated and scared.
After meeting with my local cochlear implant centre in early 2017 and completing tests, it was decided that I was suitable for a cochlear implant. I was over the moon but apprehensive about what was to come. In September 2017 I had the implant and was eventually switched on four weeks later. My switch-on was amazing! I picked up voices straight away, although at first, they sounded very much like chipmunks! I remember going back to the car and calling my mum; I heard every word perfectly and it was incredible! When I arrived home, I put on some music. It was ‘Hello’ by Adele and I heard every word clearly and it sounded just the same as I remembered. When she said the line ‘Can you hear me?’ I screamed ‘YES!’
Having a cochlear implant has given me my life back. I was able to return to work doing what I loved: working with children. I do remember a woman visiting me when I was deaf saying I would never work with children again. I proved her wrong! Nine months after my operation, I had an interview to be a peripatetic Specialist Support Assistant working with children who are deaf/hearing impaired. I got the job and I was over the moon! I now work in lots of different educational settings, with children and young people who have different levels of hearing loss. I immediately have something in common with them as I have an implant. I love my new role and my implant as it has given me my life back and nothing is difficult anymore. I recently started learning to play the guitar as I won the Medel grant. This is something I have wanted to do for years. I am so pleased to have music back in my life again. Anything is possible if you are positive and believe in yourself.