At that time in 1988 my daughter and I were living in Townsville. Once it was decided I was a candidate, magic things happened. Friends turned up out of the blue wanting a place to stay for three months, so I had house, garden, cat and dog sitters. My daughter couldn’t wait to experience boarding school life, and an old school friend in Sydney offered accommodation.. So I packed the car and drove down to Sydney happily. I was never particularly apprehensive; my work as a clinical biochem was very familiar with a hospital environment, and having managed reasonably well for over 40 years with no hearing, I was far more curious than desperate to hear again. I have been totally deaf since I was 6, the result of meningitis. I was hardly a suitable candidate for the brand new Mater Hospital clinic in Brisbane, which is why I received my implant in Sydney. Professor Bill Gibson had by that time done approximately 130 implants and he was willing to give me a go although he warned me the benefits would be limited. He suggested I communicate with several people with implants in Sydney whose hearing loss was something like to my own, so I wouldn’t have undue expectations group.
I will never forget hospital, and gave me endless encouragement and support in the rather stressful months following switch-on. I wanted to facilitate the same sort of support here in Brisbane. After receiving my implant I had every two months or so for mapping and speech and audio training for almost two years; then we moved to Brisbane and I transferred to the Mater clinic and the wonderful June Scott, now June Young placement of my first implant round window – must have given my early audiologists some headaches. Luckily I’ve had many innovative ones prepared to think well outside the square.
Professor Gibson’s idea to call the original support group CICADA, because quote from Shirley Hanke’s book “noise Australian cicadas made”. I was to discover that for myself when I returned home to Townsville with my new ‘ear’. For weeks I couldn’t make out what a throbbing, drumming background noise was, the one which stopped then started up again every now and then. I went round the house checking everything washing machine – local friends couldn’t understand what I was talking about until a friend from overseas said “It’s the cicadas!”