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‘I’m back to being myself’—Lorraine’s cochlear implants reignited her zest for life

After more than 30 years with hearing aids, 73-year-old Lorraine Dobbie is back to doing all the activities she loves, thanks to her cochlear implant. Now, she’s helping others on their journeys.
Lorraine and her husband standing outside their home smiling. Lorraine has a fun pink streak in her hair.
  • Hearing

Lorraine has always had a passion for helping others. From supporting her sister through a cancer battle to crocheting bears for children going through medical procedures—she’s always one to answer the call.

But, after more than 30 years with hearing aids, Lorraine’s hearing began to deteriorate, and she found herself losing confidence.

‘As my hearing worsened, I could no longer talk on the phone to my grandkids and I found it hard to participate in conversations. Then, I noticed that I was withdrawing from social situations. People talked over me because I would have to focus, taking me longer to respond. I started to feel like my opinion didn’t matter anymore. I went into my shell,’ Lorraine says.

So, when she became aware that cochlear implants were a suitable solution, Lorraine jumped at the opportunity to regain her hearing. Her implant was switched on in November 2020, allowing her to immediately comprehend words.

To continue increasing access to sound, NextSense audiologist, Paul Jevelle, who works out of the NextSense Wollongong centre, set Lorraine a task—listen to an audiobook for at least an hour a day.

What started as homework soon became a passion. Now Lorraine says she can’t get enough.

‘I’m listening to more than four hours a day—I’m addicted to audiobooks!’ she says.

Using the Bluetooth function on her cochlear implant, Lorraine streams audiobooks and knitting videos from YouTube through her implant.

She is now able to talk to her grandkids on the phone regularly again.

‘I’m on the NSW South Coast and my grandkids are all interstate, so being able to talk to them on the phone again has been just wonderful,’ Lorraine says.

At times, hearing again is an emotional experience for Lorraine, like the first time she heard birdsong in 30 years.

‘We took a walk in a local bushland reserve. The wildflowers were out, it was just beautiful, and I sat and listened to the birds sing. Hearing all those little tweets and chirps, it was so special,’ she recounts.

Lorraine says her cochlear implants have changed her life in many ways, most importantly, allowing her to regain confidence.

‘I feel confident and can participate in life again. I’m back to being myself,’ she says.

Lorraine is meeting with Paul regularly to track her progress as she continues to improve her access to sound. At a recent appointment, she noticed a toy bear in the room.

Paul explained that he had been using it to entertain children during their appointments, but it was causing upset as they couldn’t take it home.

Lorraine had the perfect solution.

‘My daughter-in-law works at a surgery, and I was already crocheting bears for their young patients, so I said would you like me to crochet some for you? And that’s how it started. I really enjoy it; it’s nice to give back.’

Lorraine has become such an advocate for cochlear implants that her sister, Dot, is now on the list to get one of her own.

‘Dot saw my journey and now can’t wait to get her cochlear implant. I encourage anyone who is thinking about it to just go for it! It’s changed my life, completely and utterly,’ she concludes.

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