Auditory Implant Service

Lisa – “Life on Mute”

This testimony was provided by Lisa for the MED-EL Life on Mute campaign to raise awareness of hearing loss and early intervention.

Lisa and Sarah, Audiologist

Lisa with Sarah Baumann, Audiologist

I first noticed I couldn’t hear as well as I used to in my mid 30’s. It was the classic things like the TV being louder and asking people to repeat themselves more than was normal. With my husband’s nagging I went to the nurse to get my ears syringed only to be told there was no wax build up, I would need to see my GP. This ended with seeing an ENT Consultant who confirmed a mild hearing loss that probably wouldn’t get any worse. Oh but it did!! Over the years it did indeed get worse but nobody knew why, I have no other family with hearing loss, I had never been in a car crash or been near a bomb explosion as one Dr asked me, it was a mystery??

As time went by I had hearing aids that got bigger and bigger. Many appointments and tests but my hearing just got worse. Life became more difficult, it was easier to stay home and avoid people as communicating was becoming too difficult, too stressful. If I did go out alone I would be on the lookout for people I knew so I could avoid them. Conversations in public places like supermarkets and pubs became practically impossible, best to avoid the situation altogether. During this time I still had my job as a Medical Receptionist at a busy GP surgery, which I had really enjoyed but it got to the point where I just couldn’t continue. There is only so many times you can ask a person to repeat themselves before they think you are plain stupid, I offered to resign, but my employers asked me if I would like to stay on and work in the back office where there would be no patient contact, I lost a few hours work per week but it was worth it.

During this time I became more and more withdrawn, losing pretty much all my confidence, even the phone ringing at home would be enough to send me into a panic. A few loose remarks said by less understanding people without thinking or a joke at my expense….and chink a new dent in the confidence would appear. Going out in the evening to supposedly socialise was just a huge chore, I can honestly say I have never felt more lonely in a room full of people I know, all happily chatting with no idea what is been said and laughed about.

My family and close friends are very supportive and have really kept me going, I just don’t know how I would have managed without them, I appreciate that this whole episode in my life has been difficult for them too.

In November 2011 I went on  holiday to Gran Canaria, the usual thing happened whilst flying…excruciating ear pain on both sides on descent, this happened every time I flew, soon as I landed the pain would be gone, although the muffled sound usually lasted  a few days. On my return, the muffled sound didn’t go as usual so I visited Specsavers where I had bought my hearing aids from and the Audiologist confirmed my hearing had reduced again. I was sent back to my ENT Consultant who informed me I still had blood in my ears 10 days after the flight home, this was the cause of my hearing loss, flying!

I was the referred to AIS to see if I was suitable for a CI, thankfully I was. I found the whole process extremely emotional, but hey there was light at the end of the tunnel. Just 2 months from my first appointment I was offered a cancellation to have my implant fitted. I chose the Med-El purely on comfort although it seemed to be good technically too. The whole team at AIS have been absolutely fantastic right from the beginning, the surgery the switching on and tuning, through rehab to now 4 years on.

lisa switch on

The difference in my life since the implant has been immeasurable. I can hear things now that I had forgotten about, clocks ticking, taps dripping and coins rattling to name a few. But to hear the voices of my children and my husband, to hear the birds singing again, to hear a long ago special song that I have not heard for many years is wonderful beyond words. I now cry tears of happiness when I hear something new, not tears of loneliness and frustration.

Hearing loss seems to creep up on you slowly and you forget what you used to be able to hear, it’s only since the CI that I have really realised a lot of what I have been missing. Not just being able to communicate again but everyday sounds that enrich our lives, not feeling like you are looking through the window at life but are there in the middle again. And if that child screaming on the train gets annoying…you can always switch it off…