Auditory Implant Service

Life on Mute

Steph Bennett, a VIBRANT SOUNDBRIDGE user, provided this testimony as part of the MED-EL Life on Mute campaign to raise awareness of early testing for hearing loss. VIBRANT SOUNDBRIDGE is a type of Middle Ear Implant which is offered at USAIS.

It started with life with less volume; but that was easily shrugged off and I carried on regardless.  Sometimes it’s a blessing with the amount of noise around us these days.

But then I wasn’t getting the punchline, I wasn’t aware people were talking to me, and you know – some people laughed at my puzzled face; and then labelled me as arrogant when I didn’t always respond.  My self esteem was affected, I wasn’t confident in any situation where I was not in control of who I was speaking to, where we were and for how long.

Hearing aids came into my world when I was 24. I lasted in my job until I was 30 and then that was it.  I failed my medical due to my hearing loss and I was no longer allowed to do the job I had trained for since I was 16.  OK.  So it was time to think this through and get to grips with reality.  There was no physical remedy, I just couldn’t hear very well. So I set about getting as much hearing as I could with gusto.  The audiologist told me to stick them in and keep them in; to get out there in the noise and traffic and let my brain reprogram.  So I did.  Thank you audiologist because that helps me even today.

I progressed through the hearing aids as my hearing declined but we couldn’t find a mould material that did not make my body react badly.  I suffered with infections and bleeding ears for years until my middle ear implant and what a remarkable change.  It’s brilliant. It’s nifty, clean, a lot more attractive and I am not fighting infections with stinking ears all the time

I can hear. I work as the Clerk to a hectic Parish Council and my day consists of meetings, telephone calls, and conversations.  My hearing is critical to my work  and I am told that I am bordering severely hard of hearing.  This probably isn’t the best job for someone with that hearing loss but I can do it and it is going well.

My focus for hearing is my work.  That then helps in the family side of my life and my little bit of social life that can occasionally happen.  Not everyone is polite to me when they find out I am hard of hearing but I have found that the stigma of wearing hearing aids is much reduced as more people stick up their hand and admit “I’m running on mute”.  If this is you my advice is give it a go, leave time for your brain to get used to all the noise again before you start moaning at people to be quiet.  Remember, they have probably been politely yelling at you for a wee while and they need time to adapt to.

My life is better than ever, I have my confidence back, I’m getting fitter, I’m not hiding away from people and my family have their mum back in the room.  ‘Life on Mute’ is not for me.

The VIBRANT SOUNDBRIDGE device is celebrating 20 years. Visit the MED-EL website to find out more.