My name is Graham and I am 36 years young, married with two daughters under the age of two (lots of fun!) and in July 2009, I became deaf overnight.
This story actually starts ten years ago when for no reason and no explanation I lost the hearing in my right hear. After lots of visits to my GP and being told it was just glue ear!? I eventually got to see a specialist. To cut a long story short I was told that I had nerve damage and my hearing in that ear would never return.
This news affected me greatly in the short term but because I still had one good ear I adjusted quickly and managed to get on with my life.
Fast forwarding ten years to July 2009 I became ill with a virus, diagnosed as swine flu but no proof, and again over one night woke up deaf in my left ear. Well, this to me was a complete nightmare! I went straight to my GP and then straight to hospital where I was put on steroids and oxygen for a week to try and help. Nothing returned so as I was sent home now as a ‘deafened’ adult with a hearing aid that gave me some benefit with lip reading on a face-to-face basis.
On returning home I now had a whole new set of problems to face. Not only do I have a young family but I am a self employed Personal Trainer trying to run a business that bases itself on good communications skills. As well as training my clients I also need to be able to use the telephone for bookings and marketing as well as the usual every day requirements of running your own business. Well, there is help out there if you look hard enough. I was lucky enough to get a good hearing therapist who was able to get me in touch with social services, disability living allowance and access to work. (Check out my blog for the links to all these and see if they can help you). Apparently as a self employed person I can get all sorts of help in keeping my business going as well as helping me hear things at home!
Anyway……back to the hearing loss itself. Due to the history of hearing loss in my right ear and sudden loss in my left it was suggested that I look into the possibility of Cochlear Implants (CIs). I had already heard of these and basically said that if it would give me some help with my hearing then it was a ‘no brainer’. My specialist referred me to the CI team at Southmead Bristol Hospital and after a few chasing emails etc I got my first appointment in September 09. This was a consultation with an audiologist who ran through various hearing tests and speech tests with and without my hearing aid. From this they judge whether or not you meet the criteria to be allowed a CI.
Again, to cut a long story short I failed to meet the criteria because I was not deaf enough. Luckily, if you can call it that, I had had another slight drop in hearing during this time and was called back in for a retest in October. This time I was deaf enough and was immediately sent through to meet my CI specialist. I am now officially on the waiting list for a CI but still have further tests to do before they can officially confirm I am suitable for an operation.
The next test was scans on my ears, which were done just before Christmas. After that I have a balance test mid January and Speech, Language & Psychology test at the end of January. As I type this I can only speculate on what these all entail as they are in the future. My final decision appointment is on the 12th February 2010 and I am guessing that this is where I will discuss which ear to implant and what make of CI to go for etc.