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Michael’s Story (Part 3 cont.)


Different Challenges Michael and Marie Tighe

Michael and Marie Tighe

There are lots of different challenges and aspects to rehabilitation with a cochlear implant, ranging from environmental noise, one-to-one conversations, one’s own voice, the telephone, group conversations, hearing without lipreading, listening to music…

Anyone with even the smallest hearing loss and many with normal hearing will know that background noise can present a huge challenge. With my cochlear implant, I have been in loads of situations, and have used programmes on the implant processor caleed ‘Focus’ and Noise’. The ‘Noise’ programme is for moving around in a noisy room, while the ‘Focus’ programme is designed for chatting on a person in from of you. I am getting more and more benefit from these programmes all the time.

Five months after my operation, I started using the telephone. It was difficult but manageable, if I was talking to someone I knew. Fast conversation was too difficult, so I needed to be assertive and ask the person to slow down and speak clearly! I gradually built up my confidence…

Rehabilitation Ups and Downs

Overall my progress with the cochlear implant has been good. Progress comes in fits and starts. A good day can be followed by a week with no progress, and sometimes it can feel that things have got a little worse! Like many things in life, your general mood and alertness on the day can lake a huge difference. It is important to be positive, but also important to raise and air one’s fears.

Six months after my implant, I wrote down my main conclusions at that stage:

    1. I wish I had made my decision to go ahead with the operation earlier.

    2. It is an intense process and not something to take on casually.

    3. Other people’s voices take time to get used to.

    4. Many environmental sounds which I had not heard for many years are now natural and rich to me.

    5. One–to–one conversations in a reasonable setting are now very good.

    6. I can handle some difficult noise situations I could not handle before.

    7. Conversations without lipreading, listening to the radio, using a telephone are a challenge, but ones where I now have a reasonable chance of some success.

    8. I have got little or no benefit yet in terms of music appreciation.

    9. It is very frustrating at times to know I am almost getting a conversation, but not quite.

    10. Every tiny improvement helps as it gives me a microsecond more of mind space.

Another Twist!

“Every tiny
improvement helps
as it gives me a
microsecond more
of mind space.


Nearly one year after my operation, I felt that the implant was not always working 100%. I arranged an appointment with the cochlear implant team in September 2011. It was clear from the audiologists reaction that there was a problem. Only 16 of the 22 channels in the implant were working.

I was calm for a few days, but then shock set in. Two weeks later things got worse. Certain high frequency sounds disappeared. I got another appointment: only 7 channels were working. The audiologist said that it would eventually fail completely. It took les than a second for me to agree to a second implantation.

I had my implant replaced six weks later. Only 3 channels were working at that stage. Implant failure is very rare, and after months of testing, Cochlear concluded there were some ‘micro’ cracks in the plastic casing around the electrode array. A little moisture got into the implant and ruined the electrodes one by one. I was just unlucky! Cochlear implant failure is extremely rare!

No Regrets!

So while getting the implant replaced was a bit of an emotional roller coaster, it all worked out. I was relieved that the fault was within the implant itself and not caused by my siderosis.

So while I still have to deal with the symptoms of my siderosis, my hearing is no longer a major health concern for me, and for me some sounds are magical! I have to thank the Cochlear Implant team and the nurses on St Anne’s Ward for all their kindness and help: they are brilliant!

I still have to ‘practice’ talking on the phone, listening in different situations etc… I am not fully there yet! But life is better, communication is better, and mixing socially is easier. You have to keep moving forward… and I am not fully there yet.

The End.

Back to first page…


Michael’s Story (Part 1)

Part 1 of Michael’s story focusses on the earlier part of his adult life and how he coped with his deteriorating hearing loss. Most of the content was written by Michael in 2004 and was published in ‘1 in 7’, the Royal National Institute for the Deaf magazine. Read On… Michael’s Story (Part 1)

Michael’s Story (Part 2)

Part 2 of Michael’s story we learn about Michael’s journey towards his decision to get a cochlear implant in 2010 aged 50. For some the decision to get a cochlear implant will be more complex than others, but everyone must make their own decision in their own time. Read On… Michael?s Story (Part 2)

Michael’s Story (Part 3)

Michael had a cochlear implant operation on September 15th 2010 and ‘Switch on’ on September 29th, 2010. Now in the final part of his story, we learn about how life has changed since he received his cochlear implant almost five years ago. Read On… Michael?s Story (Part 2) Line Break Image


If you or a loved one is affected by hearing loss, support is at hand. Contact any of our Resource Centres (click here) or email us using the form below.


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Check out some of our previous Story of the Month!

January 2015

This Story of the Month focusses on access to health services for Deaf and Hard of Hearing people. Evidence has shown that people with hearing loss have difficulty communicating with health professionals, and are more likely to experience delayed diagnosis and medication errors. Read On… Andrew McCafferty, Deaf Patient, March 2014 in Sick of It 2015

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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