There’s more to it than getting a surgeon to fit it and an audiologist to set it up properly. It takes time to get used to it, to learn what the sounds mean, for the brain to turn those electronic sounds into real sounds.
I’ve been very lucky. I have a great team looking after me, the Cochlear Implant team at Sunnybrook have made it all seem so normal and everyday. Nothing was ever a problem, no question ever a daft question. I’ve been able to hear most sounds in a normal fashion very quickly. I still have problems with non live music, the electronic sounds become more electronic, high pitches especially. I’m barely at 4 months after activation though so I was never expecting to hear as well as I do so soon.
I think a huge contributory element to this is that I lost most of my hearing as an adult, a middle aged one too. I have carried on wearing hearing aids even though I wanted to stamp them into the ground sometimes. Never ever think that someone with a profound loss is listening easily through those aids. They suffer to be able to hear a little bit of distorted noise believe me. I was lucky and was able to get up to date hearing aids too, not everyone can do this. I went out to work, I had to speak to people, to hear, to keep using the auditory part of my brain. There’s truth in the phrase “if you don’t use it you lose it”.
The sounds that I still have problems hearing are in the frequencies that I haven’t heard for years, maybe even never. New sounds are strange. I take my hat off to those who don’t have such a wide auditory memory. Their journey with CI’s is harder and for some involves speech therapy and training. For me my rehabilitation includes listening to the spoken word while reading it, practising on the phone, just talking generally. I love talking so that’s no problem.
Again I was lucky when as a child my mum sent me for speech lessons, poetry reading, Shakespeare, that sort of thing. I learned how sounds are formed in the mouth, where the tongue sits to make different noises. I learned how to project my voice, how to speak loudly without squeaking, to lower my voice so that I could hear it better. All of these skills have been useful to me as a deafened woman.
MLM takes it all in his stride. He’s been there every step of the way. I can’t describe just how much he helps me, he just does. He just is a lovely man, a very lovely man.
My mum is always there for me, even when she’s back home in England she’s here with me cheering me on. She has been sick this year and so was unable to come over when I had my activation, and sadly is still unable to come over to see us. She’s profoundly deaf herself so she understands my life only too well. I just wish I had been more understanding of her hearing loss.
My brother is a rock, he copes with a deaf mother and sister, sending emails back and forth.
My friends both cyber and in person have been great. I love the support I have found on here, Glenice especially has been a wealth of knowledge about CI’s. Some friends fell by the wayside when they had to put themselves out to talk to me via email or messenger. Disability has a knack of sorting out the real friends from the passers-by. I’ve been disappointed by some but what the heck, I go for quality not quantity in friends.
All in all I’m a lucky woman.