Joan Henderson

Joan’s Story

 Hi, my name is Joan Henderson. When people ask me when I first had trouble hearing, I have to stop and think about it as my hearing went slowly over the years. The first mention of my hearing was late in primary school when a nurse spoke to me from behind and I did not hear her. When asked if I was deaf, I said no as I didn’t think I had trouble hearing people. I left school as soon as I was old enough, as I didn’t enjoy school.

When my mother gave me the choice of going back to school or getting a job, I went and worked at Arnott’s.

During my two years there I had no problem with my hearing until the last few months when I found it difficult to hear when it was noisy. I left there to go on a holiday. I then started working at Hennessy’s supermarket chain, it was while I was there I found out I couldn’t hear the phone ring on burr noise but heard it when it was a ringing tone. I left when they went bankrupt and went to work at Webster’s.
While working at Webster’s I met my husband through friends.

In my twenties, now married, I started noticing it was hard to hear when I was in noisy places and when taking the children to the clinic. From there my hearing got worse, and I noticed I had trouble saying some words. I was also finding it harder to hear on the phone, as I worked for Home Help while my children were at school. Having to get client’s names and addresses was a worry. My husband was on a pension with his back problems and was able to help out here. I left Home Help in 1990 as my husband was not well. Around this time the local doctor sent me for a hearing test at Australian Hearing. As a result I got my first hearing aids which I thought was great. I also got a volume control phone, which helped a lot. My hearing continued to deteriorate as I got older and when my husband died in 1992 I had little hearing in my left ear. I got my TTY phone around then, which is a big help. My son bought me a phone ID caller, so I could see who was phoning me. I also bought a teletext TV and later on a mobile phone which I use with SMS.

As the years went by I found it difficult to hear conversations and my left hearing aid wasn’t much help any more. When my sister Janet had her cochlear implant she did so well and found it great. She encouraged me to go for one. Not having the money to go private, I went to the Mater Hospital where I had a hearing test and was put on the list after 2 years wait. I went through all my tests, met my surgeon Dr Que Hee, as well as my audiologist Jane Croft. I had my operation on 1 October 2006 – my left ear was implanted. Switch-on was the 27 October. At first everything was very noisy and strange but soon I adjusted and sounds became clearer. I went for another map the following day – it was so good to hear things I hadn’t heard for so long.

I am finding life much more exciting with all that I can hear. I do see a speech pathologist as they said my speech had been affected by the years of not hearing well. Life is wonderful now and I am so grateful to those lovely people at the Mater Hospital. I still have my right hearing aid which I wear to meetings, Dr’s appointments and other places, but find that my cochlear implant is excellent for everyday use.

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