My Hearing Journey, SoCo and Me
As I write this, I’ve just posted on a Facebook Group page, these are my exact words ….
“This Group has definitely been amazing in creating good friendships”
How did I come to write this, and what’s this Group all about, you ask? Okay, so let me explain….
My name is Tina, I’m 41 years old and I was born profoundly deaf. I am one of four siblings and my hearing loss is hereditary. My brother was born deaf and my eldest sister’s hearing loss developed as she got older. I attended mainstream school but didn’t have a very active social life due to my hearing loss. As a child, I wore analogue hearing aids in both ears but, as we all know, technology moves forward and so my Audiologist tried different types of digital hearing aids, but nothing was powerful enough for my right ear, so I had to try my hardest to cope with just one hearing aid in my left ear. I struggled for years. My Audiologist suggested I would benefit from having a Cochlear Implant. At first, I was very against this decision but, over time, I changed my mind.
I was referred to USAIS, they did lots of tests, explained what was involved and how it could change my life. Little did I know that, at the same time, my sister was going through the assessment process. It was kept a secret from me so not to disappoint me, in case one of us did not pass the assessment. Well we both passed so, you can imagine, we were excited, but also scared. I had to have an MRI and a CT Scan, to check my cochlea was suitable to be implanted, then back again to the Implant Team, and still all green lights were go – it was definite, I was having a Cochlear Implant.
Finally, my operation date came – 22nd August 2018, and the best surprise …. my sister had a cancellation slot for the day before me; we were thrilled! I was beaming that I wasn’t alone on this journey, my sister was going to be taking this journey with me. We both had our operations, and switch on day arrived; I had mixed feelings, not knowing what to expect. One thing I highly recommend to anyone on this journey, is to keep your expectations very low, otherwise you may end up disappointed like I was. I was expecting to hear everything straight away – silly me, not realising there was a lot of hard work to face.
At switch on, all I could hear were beeps – no words. At the same appointment, I saw the Speech and Language Therapist and was given lots of rehabilitation work to get my brain recognising words again. I was given sheets of words and told to get my partner to say these words, and to listen and try and figure out what word he was saying. I was also given a list of different sounds around the home to listen to, like the kettle and the washing machine etc.
As the weeks passed, I started to hear sounds. One sound was driving me crazy; I couldn’t work out what it was! My fella explained that it was the clock! I was overwhelmed with excitement that I had heard something that I had never heard before. At my next AIS Tuning appointment I was given more rehabilitation work and it was suggested I use some Rehab Apps, like AB CLIX. As time went on, I heard words more clearly, so I moved onto more challenging Apps – Speech Banana and Angel Sounds. I did my Rehab every day and there were moments it got frustrating, but I never gave up and I told myself ‘‘practice and patience and it will get better’. My advice to you on this journey is to always remember that your brain needs practice to recognise all these sounds, never give up! Practice, patience and perseverance is a must.
As for me and my sister, as we progressed through our rehabilitation, we realised that our journeys were so different. Being late deafened, she had a good hearing memory and progressed quicker than me. I was getting despondent until the Team at AIS told me that there are some lovely Support Groups out there on Facebook and gave me the details of the Southern Counties CI Group, affectionately known as SoCo.
I joined SoCo looking for support, I felt very welcomed by the other SoCo members and was given lots of advice and help – from people who had already been through the same journey as me. They understood what it was like. I felt part of a family, everyone helped each other. I was invited to one of their regular social meet ups, I was nervous about meeting new people but I met some wonderful people who have become great friends and I now go to every social event that I can.
So why not look up this amazing group yourself; they would love to meet you! Having a Cochlear Implant and meeting people from SoCo has changed my life …. for the best!!