Thanks to his cochlear implant, Dave could hear his wife's voice again.
I was around 45 years old when I first realised I had a major hearing problem. I worked as a Telecommunications technician/engineer. I was often in noisy environments, like helicopters and air conditioning rooms, where facilities were installed. In those days, we paid little attention to hearing protection as we were far too macho for that sort of stuff - such was the attitude of the day in the late sixties and early seventies. Then, add to that some genetic degradation, and I was eventually fitted with hearing aids after my GP sent me to an audiologist. I was then refitted with bigger and better ones about 10 years later.
Interesting to note that I was never happy with the aids; they were often uncomfortable and really didn't do a lot for my hearing. Slowly - bit by bit - I was withdrawing from the high profile world I was used to. I wasn’t coping with not being able to hear well and being forced to the outer.
As I approached 60, I was hit with other medical issues and decided to retire, dropping first to just a few days a week then, with the effects of deafness increasing, finishing all together. As I was no longer able to deal with customers directly, I was not a lot of use as a consultant.
I was later referred to an ENT specialist for a sinus issue, and at that time, he suggested that my hearing was so bad I should consider an implant and was consequently referred to the SCIP in Christchurch. By this time, I was no longer involved with community groups other than a boat club where I was known as 'deaf Dave' and often the butt of their humour. I didn't really care much as I could 'face read' pretty well by then and hold my own among that tight-knit group.
In early 2018, I was notified by SCIP that I would be offered an implant. Initially, I was reluctant to have the operation as I have heard all sorts of horror stories, but eventually accepted advice and went ahead in May 2018. The op went well, from the moment of switch-on I was hearing better than I had in over 20 years! Some sounds took a bit of getting used to, but voices - while sounding a bit strange - I could understand most right away.
Subsequent visits to the audiologist improved the sound to the point where voices sound quite natural; however complex music is still difficult. Using the telephone is still quite a challenge, but I use my mobile, and I am coping. I have recently changed to an iPhone brand and can directly stream audio to my device, still not perfect, but better.
The difference the implant has had on my life has been absolutely profound and far better than I would have ever anticipated. The first success was being able to hear and understand my wife next to me when I was driving home in the car from switch on. Then to be able to go into a shop by myself and have the confidence to make a purchase unaided - this I now do without even thinking about it. To be able to talk to my grandchildren and have meaningful conversations with them, contributing to the quality of their lives. In the public world, I can now attend and partake in those meetings and events that I would never do before. I have been to the movies and been able to hear the soundtrack. I am a self-containment inspector for motorhomes, a task that requires talking and listening to owners.
The Cochlear Implant has also enabled me to take on a major community well-being project that had stalled through lack of enthusiasm and someone to front it. I am the chairman, I chair the meetings; I interface with, meet, and negotiate with the authorities, suppliers, and sponsors.
I am back 'into it' like 20 years before, so much so, that our group is up and running and the community will reap the rewards. Thanks to the SCIP, their work, and their skills they have utilised in helping me I am now contributing to society once again. I am but one link in that chain that makes a community. Thank You SCIP!
Sadly on the 5th of April, after a long illness, my wife passed away. Having been together for 50 years life was now about to change dramatically. No longer could I rely on her to fill in the gaps that I missed, I have to cope on my own.
Prior to my cochlear implant, she would have to accompany me every time I went into a shop or attended an appointment, she would need to be my ears. Now, with the new life and living on my own, the implant becomes so much more essential that without it, I would not cope at all.