My hearing journey
I began to notice I was experiencing balance problems in February 2006. I struggled to stay on my motorbike and my board when surfing. This continued to deteriorate until I had to stop all of my favourite activities. I still have difficulties with my balance, particularly at night. I use a flashlight to help keep me steady in the dark, this has been particularly useful when commuting home.
It was in August 2009 that I lost my hearing in my right ear. I didn’t receive hearing aids initially or pursue this as I was moving back to London. Before moving, I was diagnosed with Meniere’s disease in January 2010, and once back in London I lost all hearing in my left ear suddenly. I was frightened and went straight to A&E. My hearing fluctuated at first then descended into a profound loss. It was at this point I realised my Meniere’s disease had become bilateral. The sudden loss of hearing took a toll on my career. I went for an interview and had to ask for the questions to be repeated two to three times.
Once I got my hearing aids, I adapted quite quickly. However, nothing prepared me for how my methods of communication needed to change. I had to think more about which rooms had the best acoustics for holding conversations, or where the best place was to position myself in groups. I attended lip reading and BSL sign language classes to help with day-to-day conversations.
After a few months, I was no longer benefitting from my hearing aids and required more and more powerful aids. The world became a lonely place and socialising was very difficult. I couldn’t converse with friends, and the music I have always had a passion for sounded distorted and unfamiliar.
My mother originally told me about cochlear implants. They sounded like a great intervention so I approached the clinic’s implant director to see if I would be a suitable candidate. After completing the tests, I received a letter eight months later to say I could receive a cochlear implant. With my hearing being so bad, I didn’t have much to lose, so I took the plunge!