After losing his hearing and exploring all his options, 62-year-old Colin learnt hearing aids wouldn’t provide the level of sound he needed to keep working and enjoy his busy life. His motivation for a solution was strong—he wanted to stay connected and healthy as he grew older. After researching different approaches, he decided to access a bulk-billed cochlear implant through NextSense. Since his successful surgery and a good experience of rehabilitation, he’s now giving back, volunteering his time to help others understand the role cochlear implants play when hearing aids just aren't enough.
Colin’s sudden hearing loss
Colin Trinder is a former environmental consultant, Australian Masters hockey player and now NextSense Discover Hearing Implant volunteer. He suddenly began experiencing hearing loss in his left ear in 2009 following a trip to the Kokoda track that year.
‘I had some sort of adverse reaction to doxycycline medication prescribed for malaria prevention which induced Meniere’s syndrome causing tinnitus and vertigo episodes over a two-year period,’ he says.
After recovering from the symptoms of Meniere’s syndrome, he had lost almost all his hearing in his left ear. Despite this, Colin’s newly developed unilateral (single sided) hearing loss didn’t stop him from continuing his daily routine and activities.
But in 2013, during a casual dinner with friends, he suddenly lost hearing in his right ear for the first time.
‘It was sort of like a temporary hearing loss. It would fluctuate—I would wake up in the morning, and I would just be deaf in my right ear. And because I was deaf in the other ear, I would be completely deaf,’ he says.
By the beginning of 2016, Colin knew he had to do something about his hearing—it was impacting his ability to talk on the phone, participate at work, and hear his hockey team on the field.
‘I was trying to chair meetings and sit on boards and things like that. It was impossible,’ he says.
With severe hearing loss in his left ear, and intermittent deafness in his right ear, Colin’s first step was to try hearing aids.
‘I tried them both for a few months to see whether that made any difference, but I really couldn't tell the difference and got no value out of the left one at all. So that really proved the point that I was completely deaf in the left ear.’
Doing his research
After learning that hearing aids would not be enough to gain access to sound in his left ear, Colin was eager to explore the possibility of cochlear implants—a technology he was first introduced to through his work in the 1980’s.
‘As a young public servant in the very early 1980’s I took the minutes at an interview with the inventor of the cochlear implant device, Dr Graeme Clark, who was applying for a research grant for the development of the technology,’ he says.
Some 35 years later, Colin decided to do some research about advances in cochlear implant technology and seek expert advice.
I concluded that my only option was to pursue a cochlear implant if I wanted to stay functional in my kind of lifestyle
In January 2016, after extensive testing and consultation with his NextSense audiologist, Colin was approved to receive a cochlear implant on his left side—he was implanted by one of the surgeons in the NextSense expert network just four months later.
Colin was willing to pay for the procedure but was pleasantly surprised to learn that the surgery and related medical appointments were bulk billed, with no out-of-pocket expenses.
‘My recovery was instant really. The procedure was completely painless. Because there was minimal swelling they switched on [my implant] just two weeks later.’
‘I could instantly hear voices and detect accents and that sort of thing. Some people say it's robotic at first, but I thought it sounded more like talking on an intercom headset initially—this completely disappeared after a few days or a week and just sounded normal after that.’
Colin now relies on his cochlear implant on his left side, and a hearing aid on his right side, for at least 16 hours a day.
Throughout his hearing loss journey, he never stopped doing the things he loves—volunteering with Jervis Bay Marine Park, acting as the president of his local hockey club, and playing sport. But he says that his cochlear implant has helped him feel more confident.
Life has pretty much returned to normal. The fact that I can stream sound to both my ears [via my cochlear implant and hearing aid] has made comprehending things like voices over the phone or in noisy environments so much better.
Colin is so happy with his cochlear implant that he volunteers with NextSense to support other people considering the procedure. He recently joined a Discover Hearing Implants session in Canberra to share his story and answer questions that people considering an implant may have about the process.
Colin recommends that anyone struggling with their hearing should investigate all their options.
‘From my experience you don’t have to put up with being sidelined in conversations because of hearing difficulties—particularly in those social settings where the background noise is challenging. If you are struggling to get much assistance out of your hearing aids you should definitely consider a cochlear implant. For me the effect is way beyond what I expected,’ he says.
NextSense runs Australia’s biggest cochlear implant service and is at the forefront of technological and medical advances.