My hearing journey
I had normal hearing until my early thirties when I began to notice that I was not hearing so well. I didn’t take much notice at first, thinking it was temporary and that all would be well in due course. However, my hearing began to deteriorate and my doctor referred me to a local audiologist. He told me that I had a severe hearing impairment and over time I wore hearing aids in both ears. Over time even the ,most powerful hearing aids proved unsatisfactory. I also suffered from irritation in both ears, infections and bleeding. This led to me taking my aids out making hearing even harder. Over the years I lost my confidence. It affected my work in the bank and I eventually took early retirement. I increasing withdrew from going or visiting friends for dinner. I felt embarrassed that my wife had to keep repeating things that people had said to me. I missed out on jokes and funny quips with my family. I gradually became isolated and often gave up in conversation.
Eventually, in early 2013 I was referred to a cochlear implant centre in London, after my audiologist thought that I might be suitable for an implant. During the assessment process, it was identified that I had bilateral acoustic neuromas; these are quite unusual tumors that develop on the balance (vestibular) and hearing, or auditory (cochlear) nerves. The consultant didn’t know how long they had been growing, and needed to establish that the tumors were benign, and were stable (not growing). My wife and I were in complete shock; we had never anticipated anything like this. I had MRI scans every six months to make sure that the acoustic neuromas were not growing. In 2015 it was confirmed that the tumours were stable and I could continue with my assessment for an implant. I was glad to be finally receiving my implant as I had began to lose hope that I would ever hear properly again. It had been a much longer process than most people would experience due to the presence of the neuromas.
Due to my situation, the implant team were unsure what level of benefit I would receive from the cochlear implant. Although I was excited about receiving my implant, I was still nervous about the procedure. I knew there would be a lot of rehabilitation to do after the operation and relied on the support of my wife and family through the process.