‘I never thought I’d be so happy to hear my dog barking,’ said Wanda, who received a cochlear implant in 2018. Wanda, who lost her hearing suddenly four years ago, is rediscovering everyday life through sound.
‘It’s all the little things that make a difference, like talking to my family and friends on the phone. After I lost my hearing, many friends came to visit from my home city of Perth, and they brought notepads to write what they wanted to say. It was lovely, but it was frustrating that I couldn’t hear their voices,’ Wanda said.
Sometimes hearing aids aren’t enough
Wanda woke up one morning in 2017, unable to access sound through her hearing aids. ‘It was like being in a dark tunnel; very suddenly, I couldn’t communicate with my family.’
Wanda says she tried to learn to lip read with limited success and found speech became increasingly difficult. ‘My husband would often tell me I was talking too loudly or too softly. I couldn’t control the volume because I couldn’t hear myself. I felt embarrassed and stopped wanting to talk to people.’
It was Wanda’s doctor who first encouraged her to explore cochlear implants. Wanda has some additional health concerns and is immunosuppressed, so initially, she thought it might be a barrier, but it wasn’t the case. ‘My surgeon at Darwin Hospital was confident he could do the surgery, and my RIDBC team and the hospital really supported me,’ Wanda said.
Wanda regains her hearing
Cochlear implants are usually switched on two to three weeks after surgery. For Wanda, this was the day she was due to leave hospital. ‘I was supposed to go to see my audiologist at RIDBC Darwin for switch-on after leaving the hospital. I was feeling a little nervous about it, and suddenly my audiologist showed up at the hospital with all her equipment to do the switch-on right there in my room.
The RIDBC team have been so wonderful and really supportive, and gestures like this made a real difference.’
Wanda says she approached her switch-on with realistic expectations. ‘I knew not to expect to hear straight away, and my daughter left me a lovely note the night before reminding me not to get discouraged, so I felt prepared.’
RIDBC’s Naomi was setting up and adjusting settings while chatting to Wanda’s husband when, to everyone’s surprise, Wanda responded. ‘Naomi looked at me with real surprise. She asked if I could hear her, and I said yes! The next minute, we all had tears rolling down our faces. It was an incredible moment.’
Rediscovering life through sound
More than two years on, Wanda says she still enjoys experiencing the sounds of everyday life, from talking to family and friends to the sound of birds singing and, of course, her dog barking.
Wanda continues to receive support from her team at RIDBC Darwin, including her audiologist, Kerry, who has been seeing Wanda for two years. ‘I see Wanda regularly for mapping of her implants, and I am always inspired by her positivity and sense of humour in the face of any challenge. This continued positivity and commitment to reaching her goals enables Wanda to really get the most out of her implants.’
Wanda says she encourages others in her situation to explore cochlear implants and is so passionate about the outcomes that she hopes sharing her experience helps other people on their journeys. ‘If you are thinking about cochlear implants, do it! It makes every day better.’
To learn more about RIDBC’s Cochlear Implant Program, visit the RIDBC website.
This news article was created prior to 10 February 2021 when NextSense was Royal Institute for Deaf and Blind Children (RIDBC).