I became deaf due to Meniere’s disease. The attacks left me ill and debilitated, but worse they caused almost total hearing loss in both ears. I became isolated and frustrated. This story is of my journey from the world of hearing into the isolation of deafness and back. Since receiving cochlear implants I have much to be thankful for.
The cause of my deafness was Meniere’s disease which results in a build up of fluid at times in the inner ear, for a reason that is not known yet.
I remember my first ‘attack’ when I was 23 and over the next few years my condition became chronic. The main symptom was a sudden attack of vertigo which could be so severe I could fall to the ground. Other symptoms included nausea, vomiting and abnormal jerky eye movements. In the affected ears there was deafness, tinnitus and a feeling of pressure and discomfort.
I was bed-ridden on an average of four times per week for many hours. Throughout 1992 and 1993, in desperation, I agreed to accept a series of operations that I understood would only kill the symptoms and leave the disease silently aggressive within me. I knew there was still a possibility of becoming profoundly deaf.
My hearing loss deteriorated progressively until there was total deafness on my right side and a severe hearing disability on my left side at the time of my first cochlear implant.
Living in a world of silence is so frustrating. Before my first implant I could hear sometimes but it was merely a garbled sound. I struggled to recognise a word here or there and I was continually lip-reading and watching body language to try to understand speech.