Hearing Link

One year on

I can’t believe that just over a year ago I was getting my head drilled into! I’ve come so far since then, I can now hear the wind in the trees, I can enjoy music again, I can hear birds, I can hear familiar voices on a mobile phone (but strangely nothing on a landline) and much more.
My confidence has come on leaps and bounds. I feel much less left out than before. It really was the best decision I have made. Continue reading “One year on”

No, my hearing loss isn’t ‘cured’!

I’m finding I’m having to remind people often of what I can and can’t hear because many people assume my hearing is now perfect or as some say ‘cured’! I’m hating being told I’m cured! Deafness can be difficult but its not a disease or something!

I point out to people that conversation is much easier, but I still have to lip read as I’m not catching everything (plus I guess its a hard habit to break after about 25 years!). I can hear people on the phone but I cannot hold a full conversation. I’m only getting the odd word here and there on the telephone and therefore prefer to continue with text messages or my text phone.

I also still cannot hear the door knocking and still have to rely on my family to tell me the door has gone. There are some alarms I can now hear, and some I cannot.

Noisy situations are difficult as there are so many noises to filter. Last week I was in Asda and clearly did not hear a woman behind me trying to get past. She decided to take matters into her own hands and ram the trolley into the back of my legs! Very painful. When I tried to explain I was deaf, she clearly did not believe me and shouted (amongst less pleasant words) that I was ‘rude’.

So whilst I can hear lots of things better – conversations, voices on the radio, music, voices on the telephone rather than just silence, some alarms, pedestrian crossings, crying babies, police sirens, kettle boiling etc, there are still a few things I’m not quite there yet with.

Also I think sometimes I hear something and sometimes I don’t, as I said earlier, I think its to do with how noisy the environment is and also what I’m doing – if I’m busy doing something,I might not be ‘focusing’ on hearing something, if that makes sense.

I think next time I visit the cochlear implant centre, I’ll ask for advice and help with noisy situations. On my last visit, I had two of the four programmes taken away as I didn’t really use them, but maybe I’ll ask for them back and start using them again. It might help.

Disappointment

My updates are less frequent now, sorry everyone, but that’s because I’ve been busy and also because my appointments at the cochlear implant centre are decreasing so I haven’t had much to report. I get check ups at eg 2 weeks, 1 month, 3 months and my latest one was 6 months. My next one is at 9 months, then after a year, it is just once a year.

I asked for the volume to be increased at my latest appointment. I felt it was too quiet. It is loud now and taking some getting used to but I’m hearing new things again which is good. I heard an angry car horn for the first time and also when I went to adventure golf with my family, the animations around the place were so loud!

Music is also sounding strange again. I can hear the words but the music doesn’t sound quite right. I know from experience I will get used to it, its simply the new volume I’ve been given.

I was also told to put my hearing aid back in! The volume on this was turned up to the max and it is better but its not as good as I’d like nor can it ever be. I was advised that it is better to have some hearing in that ear than to go without. Also if I were ever to get a second implant, the transition would be easier if I have spent some time being bimodal (which means using a cochlear implant and hearing aid together).

Speaking of a second implant, I spoke with the head of centre at my appointment. I explained I really wanted a second implant and asked if there was any way of making this possible. However the centre said I do not meet their guidelines – that I would be a candidate if I were registered blind or had gone deaf through meningitis. The guidelines may change in the future, but until then, the best I can do is be bimodal.

Its very disappointing but my centre have also offered to look into better hearing aids for me as my current hearing aid is at maximum volume and it’s still not good enough for me. So I’m waiting to see how that will go.

Still no word from Hearing Dogs for Deaf people. I’ve been informed I should be matched this spring although I’m still waiting to hear. Others who have been waiting less time than me have been matched which is disappointing. I have been waiting 4 and a half years, and although I keep being told it’s worth the wait, its extremely frustrating!

I hope to be able to share my experiences here once I’m matched, so that my blog will be an interesting mix of cochlear implants and hearing dogs!
So overall quite a disappointing time of it at the moment!

Reintroducing a hearing aid

Happy new year to you all! It’s been a busy few weeks what with work, christmas etc so apologies for the lack of updates.

At the end of November, my cochlear implant centre advised me to reintroduce a hearing aid into my non implanted ear. I wore it for a month before I had to stop wearing it.
I really hated the difference in sound between the cochlear implant and the hearing aid. The sound is not balanced. The sound coming into the hearing aid is very muffled. I felt as though I had a pillow over my ear.

Obviously the hearing aid cannot give sound as good as the cochlear implant but I was surprised by how quiet and poor the sound was, considering I wore hearing aids for 25 years pre implantation. I could not turn it up any louder.

I found myself getting confused and understanding things less well when I wore both the speech processor and the hearing aid. It was as though I was taking steps backwards rather than forwards on my journey to better hearing. I felt I did better with the cochlear implant alone so I stopped wearing the hearing aid.

My audiologist did say that she did not want my brain to work for the hearing aid over the cochlear implant so therefore she would set the hearing aid a little lower. I will see when I return to the centre if she can make the hearing aid sound any better but I suspect I will carry on without it.

Ideally I would like two cochlear implants so the sound is ‘equal’ in both ears but a second implantation (for adults) is dependent on funding and circumstances such as additional disabilities. I hope one day this changes!

As for the current cochlear implant, I’m hearing more things all the time. Popcorn popping at the cinema and being able to follow the whole of Les Miserables (a highly recommended film!)

Hope to have more to update soon!

Year in review

This will probably be my last blog post of the year so I wanted to do a short year in review.

photo of cochlear implant audiogram results sheetFirst I wanted to show you my latest audiogram results, which more or less sums up how far I’ve come in just over 3 months since switch on. On this, you can see where I was back in May when I underwent all the assessments for a cochlear implant. You can also see where I am now. A big improvement, don’t you think?

I reckon this is proof more than anything that I made the right decision to have a cochlear implant and I hope it offers others considering an implant some reassurance that it is indeed worthwhile. I can hear so much now – fire alarms, telephones ringing, music playing (and identify the song), pedestrian crossings, school bells, keyboards, conversations without looking at the person all the time and more.

Another significant change has been to my confidence. Several people have commented on how I am much more ‘chirpy’ since the operation. I feel so much more included both at work and in social situations, I feel less isolated and more likely to ‘go out there’ and do things.

My social life has improved a bit – I’m really enjoying my sign language course and I would not have signed up for it if I had not felt I would be able to cope better in a college environment with the implant. I’m also exercising more – again I’d avoid exercise classes because of the fear I wouldn’t understand the instructions and go the wrong way or something!

Being able to do things I could not do before, and enjoy things I haven’t been able to do for a while, has made such a huge difference to me. It may sound strange but I can feel the ‘old me’ coming back and I don’t think I’ve felt this happy in a long time.

I am due back at the hospital to reintroduce my hearing aid into my right (non implanted) ear. I’m a bit unsure about this as my surgeon told me many implantees find they do not like wearing a hearing aid in their ‘other’ ear as the sounds are conflicting and confusing.

Then again, some implantees do fine with a hearing aid and a cochlear implant together. I’m not sure how I will feel but I am very conscious of the lack of sound coming into that ear so I’m keen to try it and see how I get on. I’ll hopefully be able to report back on that in the new year.

I wish all of you a very merry Christmas and a Happy New ‘Ear.

Happy Birthday to me…happy birthday to me…

Sorry for the lack of updates everyone, its been a super busy few weeks. I had a phased return to work following my operation and I’m now back full time. I’m in a different office so a slighter longer commute and less time to blog!

Also it was my birthday so I was celebrating that. I used some of the money I was gifted to purchase new songs on ITunes. I’m really making the most of my new hearing and listening to new songs. I never really bothered with songs that weren’t from the 80s or 90s, songs I could remember before my hearing got worse. Now I’m singing Gangnam Style! Heyyyyyyy Sexy Lady!!!

I also saw Skyfall twice. Skyfall is the first film I’ve seen post implant. Previously I would go to a film and either spend the majority of it going “what did he say?”, “why is she doing that?” or get the full script from my husband afterwards. Unless it was a film of a book, in which case I’d read the book first! (Any Edward Cullen fans out there??)

Skyfall was amazing. I wasn’t expecting to enjoy it so much, I just went along to humour my husband who is the biggest Bond geek you’ll ever meet. I could hear the majority of the script, I could follow what was happening and I didn’t need to ask any questions! I went back to see it again I enjoyed it so much!

I had a visit from Hearing Dogs for Deaf People last week. They wanted to look over my new office to see the environment in which the dog will be working. Alex from Hearing Dogs spoke to some members of staff to find out if any had allergies and checked where the dog would be exercised.

Hearing Dogs are registered recognised assistance dogs trained to alert their deaf owners to a variety of different sounds such as door knocks, fire alarms, telephones etc. The waiting list is currently at 5 years due to supply and demand, I have been waiting 4 years now.

Alex feels I shall be matched next year and believes I will have a non moulting dog due to allergies amongst my colleagues.

It was good to get an update on my position on the waiting list and it was beneficial for my colleagues to find out more about the work of Hearing Dogs for Deaf People and how the dog will assist me.

For more information on the work of hearing dogs, visit www.hearingdogs.org.uk

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