When did you first experience hearing loss and how did it make you feel?
I had progressive hearing loss in my left ear and a hearing aid for 10 years before deciding to pursue the idea of a cochlear implant. My hearing is essential in my work life, as I do a lot of public speaking and I am regularly in a situation where a lot of conversation is happening around me. I was finding it increasingly frustrating not being able to follow conversations – often pretending I could hear.
There was one time when I was struggling to understand a group conversation. I replied, “that’s nice”, only to find out later the lady had told us her husband had died. After this incident, I was more determined than ever to find a way to improve my hearing!
What made you decide to get your cochlear implant? Did you worry about anything?
The hearing aid for my left ear was progressively less effective and I noticed an advertisement in The West Australian from Lions Hearing Clinic, inviting people to find out if a cochlear implant might be a treatment option. It turned out I was a candidate and, a few months later, I had the surgery. I have never looked back.
My private health cover helped fund some of the costs.
My family members were concerned about the potential risks. However, my research reassured me I would be in good hands with Professor Marcus Atlas and the Ear Science Implant Clinic team – the largest private hearing implant program in Perth – and that proved to be true.
How has your cochlear implant improved your life?
My home life, work situations and social settings have all improved dramatically.
Now I can hear most conversations in noisy environments. If the noise is extra loud, I can adjust the volume using the Nucleus Smart app or switch to the forward focus setting to increase speech clarity. I don’t need the radio or TV turned up so loud – much to my wife’s delight – and I love being more confident in participating in conversations in group settings like restaurants, church services and with extended family.
I’ve never been shy in such environments but it was hard work before having the cochlear implant. I love not having to guess so much what people are saying and I love setting the satellite navigation in the car, as it streams directly to my cochlear implant, and I now have the confidence I need for my public speaking.