“I would not be able to hear or be where I am today without cochlear implants.”
Adrian Zuniga (26) was diagnosed with hearing loss at just five-years-old. His parents noticed a problem when he kept reaching for the remote and increasing the volume of the television. His hearing continued to deteriorate throughout childhood.
“I found loud environments like dinner gatherings with friends difficult. I couldn’t hear people except for the person directly on my left – I would hear everything at once,” says Adrian.
“If they wanted to talk to me, they would put a hand up, or just say my name.”
Life became more difficult, particularly during Adrian’s last year of high school. He says he was exhausted having to constantly communicate through lip-reading, so he started to pull away from his friends.
Then a month before his 18th birthday he received the best present he could have asked for – a cochlear implant.
He says his hearing has since improved dramatically.
“I would not be able to hear or be where I am today without cochlear implants. With my implant, I can now hang out with friends and work face-to-face in customer service.
“If I didn’t get a cochlear implant I would not be able to work, I would not be able to socialise well, and I would probably isolate myself and miss out on all the experiences my friends are having.”
A keen outdoorsman and athlete, the water has always been Adrian’s happy place. He even swam competitively when he was younger, but his hearing loss made it difficult to enjoy the social side of his favourite activity.
“When people are in the water they chit chat and laugh, but I was just there in the water and couldn’t join in. So I grew up not wanting to go to the beach or go swimming with friends and family.
“The good thing about my cochlear implant is that it’s water-resistant, which is very important to me because I love my sports and training. I can train, run and wear a hat without having to worry about my implant turning off.”
Adrian is now pursuing his passion by studying sport and recreation. He says he’s grateful to The Hearing House and the Southern Cochlear Implant Programme for helping him throughout his journey.