I was born in 1957 and became profoundly deaf at three months of age from an overdose of streptomycin. At the age of seven my hearing became even worse for no apparent reason. With the help of my mother, who was a teacher, I went to an ordinary primary school from Year 4 and then to high school. My mother never encouraged me to learn sign language as none of my family was deaf. She taught me to speak from a very early age. I then studied at the Queensland College of Art where I obtained a Diploma of Fine Arts with distinction in Sculpture and Printmaking. At twenty-four years my hearing again became worse.
I discussed having a cochlear implant with my ENT but, at that time with my hearing aid and lip reading I was able to cope well with most situations. In the last five years my hearing had gradually became worse to the point where my hearing aid was much less useful. I couldn’t hear the TV anymore or my voice. I couldn’t turn up the volume without getting a loud feedback and I couldn’t even hear the feedback which was a bit embarrassing for me. I became more fearful for my future as I became older and I found it harder to make new friends. Early this year I went to see an ENT about the tinnitus and he suggested that I would be a good candidate for a cochlear implant. I am glad that I did.
Fast forward one and a half months since switch on:
What a big difference now compared to the first few weeks. For example I could hear the tick tock on my parent’s wall clock last Thursday for the first time. The other day I could hear the geckos making clicking noises. Nearly every day I seem to hear something new or the sound changing – becoming stronger and sharper. I started to recognise a lot of new noises quite easily. I even recognise a lot of different sounds from my husband cooking dinner in the other room eg I could hear the ‘hiss’ from the frying pan. I keep on hearing birds chirping all the time. It is really amazing. The sounds have become more comfortable..........to the much lower pitches. No more unbearable high pitches! I find it much easier to understand conversations (still with the help of lip reading).
I still find speech a little hard to follow – still rough, harsh, strong and not clear with some echo but enough for me to understand most of the words from the conversations. I don’t enjoy hearing my voice as it is too strong and harsh at the moment! I hope it will improve over time as it is still.