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STORY OF THE MONTH

‘My New Life

by Joan Regan

DeafHear.ie Story of the Month: My New Life By Joan Regan 2014.

 

In the late 1980s my hearing started to deteriorate. I was in my early 40s. I was married with a busy family life and working full time as a book keeper in a busy office in Sligo.

The first thing I noticed was that I thought my husband and work colleagues were mumbling. Then I realized that it was my hearing that was deteriorating. I was not surprised as my mother, her sister, my grandfather and most of his sisters all had severe hearing loss at young ages.

During this period I became increasingly angry and resentful particularly towards old people who I often observed chatting with ease. I knew what to expect and I contemplated the years ahead and how I would have to cope with a silent world. On one occasion my husband had been speaking to someone who attended a support group for hard of hearing people. He suggested I should attend as it would be a support to me. My response was “what can they do? When you are deaf you are deaf.” He didn’t mention it again. It took considerable time for me to take ownership and accept the situation.

When I finally realised that I couldn’t hear my children I knew I had to do something. It was at this stage I made an appointment with an audiologist.

Hearing Aids

One of my greatest memories
of how the hearing aids
helped me in those early days
was when driving the car
with the children happily
chatting in the back seat.

I was not surprised with the results and I was fitted with two small all in–the–ear hearing aids to start with, and this worked really well for a while. One of my greatest memories of how the hearing aids helped me in those early days was when driving the car with the children happily chatting in the back seat. I could hear them talking and could join in the conversation. I remember their shock at mum being able to hear! This was a huge change for them too because pre the hearing aids, they could say anything and I would not have heard them. So they learned very quickly that they now needed to be cuter about what was said in front of me!

Within another two years or so I had to have larger all in the ear hearing aids fitted, and a couple years later I had the most powerful behind–the–ear hearing aid that was available fitted. For about ten years these worked well enough for me. As my hearing loss progressed further, not even the most powerful hearing aid worked for me. They were good at taking in voices and sounds very loudly but with no clarity.

My hearing loss was starting to have a greater impact on my life. I was working part time in an office and needed to use the telephone. This became too difficult, so eventually I gave up. Eating out in restaurants and being in crowded situations became stressful, so I found lots of excuses to stay at home. This was frustrating for the family as we were all involved in the community. They too were missing out, and of course there were embarrassing moments like when my husband spoke to me in a car park one day. He had to raise his voice so loudly people thought we were having a row. Looking back, I was becoming more withdrawn from family and friends, I was probably a bit depressed and I was certainly not enjoying life.

DeafHear.ie Story of the Month: My New Life By Joan Regan 2014.

Cochlear Implant

Then one day on a visit to my G.P. on an unrelated matter she suggested I consider a cochlear implant and she made an appointment for me with the E.N.T. Department in Sligo General Hospital. From there I was referred to the Cochlear Implant Team in Beaumont Hospital in Dublin. I was assessed and put on a programme for a cochlear implant. During this programme from time to time I had many reservations about going ahead, but thankfully my frustration from not being able to hear, and the encouragement from my family carried me through. I managed to shelve the nervousness and go ahead with the surgery.

This all took about two years and many visits to Dublin, but eventually I got the go ahead for my operation, which I had in November 2011. The operation was fine, but it was a bit frightening for the couple of weeks between it and ‘switch on’, as all hearing is taken away during the operation.

New Life

I am still deaf
and always will be,
but my cochlear implant
has been a huge success
and my confidence is back.

I had 'switch on' just before Christmas 2011 and then my "New Life" began. I adapted very quickly to my implant and within a short time I was hearing sounds I hadn't heard for years. I can now listen to the radio, something I had given up completely. I can watch most T.V. without subtitles, use the telephone reasonably well, and speaking one-to-one is near perfect. One of my early good moments is switching on the car radio and hearing perfect music on Lyric F.M. for the first time. It was emotional. Crowded noisy places and particularly restaurants are still problematic, but not as bad as before the implant.

My husband and family are delighted, as they see a big change in me. I am happier as I can now be involved in activities outside the home. I am much more relaxed, and less tired. At the moment I am able to enjoy the wonderful sound of my grandchildren babbling, a sound I thought I would never be able to hear.

I am still deaf and always will be, but my cochlear implant has been a huge success and my confidence is back. With my cochlear implant, I no longer worry about travelling and going out to functions. My life is back to normal as it is also for my husband, family and friends.

 

 

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Check out some of our previous Story of the Month!

STORY OF THE MONTH:
March 2014

As a member of a predominantly deaf family, I spent a day in Deaf Village Ireland to take in the sights and have the full experience of all the centre has to offer. I had heard a huge buzz about the Village from both deaf and hearing friends, so I decided to go and visit the centre myself... Read On…

DeafHear.ie Katie Dudley Deaf Village Ireland 2014.
   

More Stories of the Month can be viewed here...

 

 

    


 

more...Hearing loss costs an estimated €2.2bn every year in Ireland.

 

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