At the age of 49, school teacher Janet Horgan sought help for progressive hearing loss.
She was soon diagnosed with otosclerosis, characterised by the abnormal bone growth near her inner ear. The condition left her with severe to profound hearing loss in both ears.
Janet can recall how she turned to hearing aids to help with everyday listening needs. Although hearing aids provided some benefit, Janet was constantly adjusting her lifestyle to deal with the hearing impairment.
“I used a hearing aid on my right ear, but still really struggled to listen to the television and participate in day to day conversation. In particular, social outings and meetings were very difficult to feel involved in,” said Janet.
The pressure to do something to improve her hearing increased when she became a full time carer for her husband following a stroke. It was a huge turning point because she was no longer just responsible for her own listening needs, but also those of her husband. Although she continued to trial different sets of hearing aids, she was unable to acquire enough clarity and her hearing was progressively getting worse.
She was referred to Winthrop Professor Marcus Atlas and the Ear Science Clinic team to assess her suitability for a cochlear implant. This was the start of her journey to better hearing. A full medical and audiological review of her hearing indicated that she was a suitable candidate for a cochlear implant on the left ear. Although the hearing on the right ear was limited she could continue using a hearing aid on that side. “I am fortunate to have an incredible group of family and friends who are always there for me and willing to help.
"Although I know I can rely on them, I am the primary carer for my husband who needs regular assistance," Janet said.
"I realised that if I completely lost my hearing, he wouldn’t be able to count on me. The thought of losing my hearing was unbearable and the isolation that would follow was not something I wanted to think about. I knew I was in the right hands with Ear Science Clinic, so I didn’t want to delay things further.”
Janet carefully considered all the information provided and then decided to get a cochlear implant in 2012. She was relieved to find out that the procedure is considered to be low risk minor surgery, which takes around two hours.
“I knew Ear Science Clinic was going to look after me. I was always reassured and I have never looked back.”
Undergoing cochlear implantation has opened up a whole new world of sound. Janet has a very good sense of humour and after receiving an implant is able to participate in social interaction with friends and family. She recalls almost immediately being able to hear incredibly soft sounds, like herself swallowing—something she had not anticipated.
“Thanks to the cochlear implant I am now able to participate in conversations in a variety of situations, am comfortable with social activities and meeting people and can watch television with the sound at a comfortable level.”
She is in no doubt that the implant has vastly improved the quality of life for both her and her family.
“I am happy to recommend a cochlear implant to anyone who is struggling to hear. I have no regrets and continue to look forward to discovering new sounds every day,” she said.