Debbie’s Story

 My childhood was fun until I was 5 when it was discovered that I needed an operation to correct a major heart problem. Then I had measles. Was this the cause of my future hearing loss???

Fast forward to me in my 20’s – I had had problems at school understanding things but I just thought I was “switching off” as I lived in a ‘loud household’. My mum was hearing impaired which impacted on everything at home. Finally I decided to have my hearing tested and I too, was hearing impaired.

Would I wear my hearing aids? Not all the time – I hated them and found they hindered more than helped me. About 15 years ago (now in my mid 30’s) I knew that, no matter how much I hated them, I needed to wear my hearing aids all the time. My daughter was 10, and I had been married for 3 years so it became a necessity to hear as much as possible. I was also at university and working, and the thing that really hindered me was not being able to use a phone. But I made the most of all my opportunities, and was determined that my lack of hearing would not hold me back.

Fast forward again to about 3 ½ years ago (now in my mid 40’s). My mum and dad were looking at a cochlear implant for mum. I thought that was nice and waited to see how mum went. The difference in Mum was amazing!! Dad kept pushing me to see if I was able to be a candidate for a cochlear but I kept saying that I wasn’t deaf enough and someone else needed it more than me.

About 18 months ago I finally decided to look at a cochlear implant. I had an appointment with Dr Que Hee and waited for an appointment at the Mater Hospital. I saw Lisa (my audiologist) who tested me and it was then that I realised just how profoundly deaf I was. My lip-reading skills were well above 90% which is why I thought I was doing okay! Yes I was a good candidate and was put on the waiting list. I was implanted on December 5th 2012, and my switch on appointment was on 7th January this year (wow what a wedding anniversary present!)

Immediately I could hear sounds that I hadn’t heard in over 30 years! And yes, I cried. Debbie pictured with husband Brian. In one week my confidence levels had soared and I was hearing so many noises I had to keep asking my husband Brian, what they were! Sounds like my keys on my keyboard clicking, the car indicator, a CD in the car – all things I had not heard for many years or had never heard – the list is endless. I recently had my 3 month post-switch on appointment and was retested by Lisa. I am hearing 97% of sentences (up from 6%) and even with lots of noise I still heard 61%. I am now enjoying every sound my grandson is making and life is less stressful and more enjoyable. My next goal is to be able to converse on the phone again! Oh yes, and to play my guitar! Thanks dad for really pushing me to get tested – you obviously were more aware of my situation than I was! Thanks also to all the staff at the Mater and to Dr Que Hee. This is one experience that I will savour for the rest of my life.

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