61 year old, Clare, is one of many adults being support by SCIC Cochlear Implant Program, an RIDBC Service.
Clare, who was born with cerebral palsy, was diagnosed with hearing loss at age 14.
“It is likely I had some degree of hearing loss at birth, although I was only diagnosed in my early teens after successive episodes of Menier’s Disease increased the severity,” said Clare. “I had also developed very good lip-reading skills by this time, which probably contributed to my late diagnosis.”
Clare started out using bi-lateral hearing aids and by her early thirties was profoundly deaf.
“My hearing slowly diminished over the years and after further Menier’s attacks my useful hearing reduced to virtually none. I was also a participant in studies at the National Acoustics Laboratory and for a while I used devices which converted sounds to vibrations that I felt through a wrist-band,” said Clare.
After a visit to an Audiologist and losing her hearing aid on a rollercoaster ride, Clare decided it was time for a cochlear implant and hasn’t looked back since.
“I was very excited during ‘switch on’, although also unsure of what to expect. Even though the sound was very different to anything I’d previously experienced, it was fantastic to be hearing again!”
It’s now easier to follow my favourite TV programs and to have conversations with family and friends again over the phone. I’m also enjoying listening to the music of my youth and favourite bands – especially the Seekers and the Beatles!” said Clare.
Clare is looking forward to celebrating her 30th wedding anniversary this year, with her husband Geoff.
“My husband and I both have cerebral palsy and first met when we were working in the IT department at Cerebral Palsy Alliance,” said Clare. “I’m really looking forward to celebrating this milestone with friends and family and hearing the conversations of my loved ones.”
What would Clare say to other people struggling with hearing aids?
“The decision to have a cochlear implant is a very personal one and I’m sure must be especially difficult if you have some “usable” hearing. However, if you’ve got nothing, then you really have nothing to lose.”
If you wear hearing aids, but struggle to hear in crowded places, find it difficult to hear on the phone or are no longer able to hear children’s voices clearly, then a cochlear implant could be for you.