Tuesday, May 5, 2009

It was All Worth It!!!

This scar of mine - I have to say I'm proud of it because....

It was all so worth it. I'm sitting here tonight, watching 'Stars in their Eyes'. I can follow the music and lyrics, and it's so pleasant. Two weeks ago, I wouldn't have been able to do this.

I know the scar is a bit in your face. But I remind myself that it was a such small price to pay for an amazing, exciting result. People have said I was so brave, but in all honesty, bravery didn't really come into it. If I had been really brave, I would have had it done without an anaesthetic, but being blissfully asleep I didn't feel a thing!

The last two years have been absolutely crap. For 15.5 years I had wonderful hearing with my first cochlear implant. I was able to get 98/99% open set sentences without lipreading. For those that doesn't know what open set is, it's a series of random sentences that are read out to me, which I repeat back. With my first implant I wouldn't only get 1 or maybe 2 words wrong. Even in background noise, I did extremely well with the implant. In fact, I have to admit, I then took my hering for granted.

Then in June 2007 I was thrust back into silence overnight when it failed. Not complete silence, but the implant was uncomfortable to wear, and the amount I could hear was then only about 20 to 30% - A huge difference. Fortunately, I could still lipread and I got by, but phone use was out, and socialising became difficult in background noise. I began to become a bit of a hermit. However, I kept a brave front, and I put my trust in my implant team to get me right again.

During this time of waiting, I was shocked about how difficult it was to deal with every day occurances. I had simply forgotten over the previous 15 years, just what it was like being totally deaf. Many of my past blogs deal with the difficulty in getting good customer service. I hope I never forget now, and will continue educating people despite my newfound hearing.

In March 2008 I was finally reimplanted and the initial switch on with all new technology went really well. It didn't sound as good as my first implant, but that was to be expected as I had been without useable hearing for 9 months, and the electrodes were all different - it was like being switched on for the first time again.

But after that first day, it never really improved. The chipmunks never went away, and the twang was awful. I got facial nerve stimulation (FNS), and over time, the sound got worse and worse. I was often reduced to tears of frustration and I finally asked for an x-ray. Sure enough, the electrodes had migrated out of the cochlea. At least we had a reason and I could now be re-implanted once funding had been approved. Unfortunately this took too long and by Christmas/New Year I was so miserable that I took myself off to my GP and sat and cried her office. She put me on anti-depressants, stating that no matter what has happened to me in the past, I've always maintained a good frame of mind, but this was tipping me over the edge this time. I had reached the end of my coping strategies.

I took one anti-depressant, then decided that I didn't want them. I sat down and worked out different strategies for coping, which included in keeping busy and socialising more. It worked.

Funding happened and I was finally re-implanted on March 30th 2009, and I was activated on the 22nd April 2009, just three weeks later.

Next blog post: The Switch-on ...

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