Goulburn man Peter ‘Dusty’ Field is a craftsman who loves to make children’s toys. His story is made more special by the fact that he does so using tactile memory. That’s because Dusty is blind. Over time, Dusty has experienced hearing loss too, but with the help of a cochlear implant he is showing that nothing will hold him back.
59-year-old Dusty was familiar with the cochlear implant many years ago, but never thought he would need one himself. That is until he began to lose his hearing in his mid-twenties. In 1988, he was fitted with hearing aids which he had for over 30 years before his hearing loss increased. For him, hearing aids were no longer enough. Dusty needed a cochlear implant and after a referral from his audiologist, he found RIDBC.
RIDBC Canberra supporting Dusty
From his first appointment with RIDBC, Dusty knew he was in good hands with RIDBC audiologist Anne-Marie Crowe.
“Anne-Marie and the team at RIDBC have been extremely helpful since the start,” Dusty said.
“She assessed that I was suitable [for a cochlear implant], performed the tests, liaised with my hearing aid audiologist, and now maps my cochlear implant sound processor.”
It turns out that this isn’t the first time Dusty has been supported by RIDBC. As a boy he was a boarder at the North Rocks school in the 1960s. He has fond memories of that time in his life and remembers the dedication of the teachers who taught him so well.
In June, Dusty had cochlear implant surgery (right ear) at the hands of Dr Timothy Makeham from Canberra ENT, an RIDBC affiliated surgeon and was ‘switched-on’ at the end of June. Combined with a new hearing aid in his left ear, Dusty now accesses synchronised sound bi-modally.
“Both Anne-Marie and Dr Makeham, have gone out of their way to help me, they do more than what is required of them and for that I thank them dearly. They are very lovely, caring people.” Dusty said.
Anne-Marie said, “It has been such a pleasure to meet Dusty and his wife Cherylann. He is such a positive and motivated gentleman who follows all my suggestions and advice to get the most out of his new cochlear implant.”
Anne-Marie continues, “Dusty is hearing extremely well after being switched-on for such a short period of time. He has even purchased a new guitar and is starting to play this again!”
Dusty is getting on with enjoying life
Although Dusty grew up in Sydney, he has called Goulburn home for the last 12 years, a place many of his relatives are from and therefore a place close to his heart.
Six weeks since his cochlear implant switch on, Dusty is back playing his guitar and hearing sounds he previously didn’t including his beloved 2-year-old Jack Russell, ‘Digger’ which he aptly named after meeting his best mate on ANZAC Day.
“I can hear Digger whistling and panting now, which is great,” said Dusty.
According to Dusty, “Life is about learning, fun and wonder, and if it wasn’t, it would be boring!”
One thing Dusty learned, albeit a decade ago, was the skill of woodwork. He uses that skill to make wooden toys including pens, toys, old cars, trains. His masterpieces are sold at local markets. But Dusty doesn’t do it for the money, he does it for love and often gives his toys to children.
His cochlear implant is also helping him to improve the connection with his other love, his family, including Cherylann and daughter Jenna. He jokes that after getting his cochlear implant he is the one to tell Cherylann to turn the TV down, and not vice versa. He also proudly shares his mum is turning 80 next year, an event he is looking forward to.
Sharing his hearing journey with others
Having experienced the benefits of a cochlear implant as a hearing solution, Dusty now encourages other people like him to explore the cochlear implant as a hearing solution, when hearing aids are no longer enough. He recently even spoke at a Men’s Shed, sharing his experiences with a cochlear implant and his journey.
Dusty’s advice to others with hearing loss is clear. “I want other people to know that if they truly want to improve their hearing and do not want to lose the ability [to hear], then explore your options.”
To start exploring whether cochlear implants could be right for you or a loved one, contact the RIDBC Client Care team via the phone on 1300 581 391, email firstname.lastname@example.org, or online by visiting www.ridbc.org.au/scic.