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Gerry Leeper on his cochlear implant and how he can hear his grandchildren laugh again

Posted Dec 01 2009 10:04pm

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I was born in 1937 with Ménière's Disease, a relatively rare condition which involves bouts of dizziness, nausea, tinnitus and fluctuating hearing loss. I had my first severe bout when I was 27 and my deafness progressively worsened until I lost all hearing in my left ear aged 40 and in my right ear aged 59.

When my hearing went completely in 1996 I was demoted from Production Control Manager to a technical writer at the manufacturing company where I worked. Large family gatherings were difficult and going to the theatre, cinema or concerts became a waste of time and money.

I first found out about cochlear implants from my consultant, Mr. A. Kerr, at Edinburgh’s Royal Infirmary. He was a real gentleman and put me forward as a potential candidate quite early on.

At first I was wary of head surgery because my father had had unsuccessful eye surgery many years before and I was afraid of having facial nerve damage like my friends who have suffered from strokes.

However a week long course at the LINK Centre for Deafened People made me feel much more positive about having the operation, which I did on 17th February 2004.

Gerry Leeper.jpg

At my switch on two months later, I worried that sounds would be mechanical or non-existent but I remember hearing beeps, ‘Can you hear me Gerry?’, then my wife’s voice. That moment was absolutely magnificent. Even better than expected.

Now I can hold a conversation with most people in most circumstances. I can go to the theatre again, use a mobile phone, and share a laugh with my grandchildren. I can even recognise different birdcalls.

I’d definitely recommend cochlear implants to people who meet the criteria and want to go ahead. If the choice is between hearing something or nothing, the choice becomes obvious.

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