Vander Heydan, Kerrie

My Cochlear Journey

I received my first cochlear implant almost two years ago and a second one just six months ago.

I was fifth member of my family to receive one. Having watched my father, two brothers and sister all receive theirs, I had a fair idea what to expect. However, the end result for me has been so much better than I expected.

I always relied heavily on lip-reading and two hearing aids to communicate. So I went into my first operation thinking any improvement would be a bonus, as I had so little hearing in that ear. I made a very conscious decision that this was going to work for me. I would try everything to give myself the best possible out come.

Monica Bray did my switch-on at SCIC Gladesville and afterwards I was excited at how rapidly I began to understand words, without any lip-reading!  I began to use an ipod (I hijacked my husbands) as a means of “training” my brain to hear – I listen to an audio book whilst reading the book. It is very easy, as I’ve always been a keen reader. From reading I then progressed to listening to music I knew. Wow. What a delight! I really enjoy this now.

I didn’t expect any change to my voice, but about two months after switch-on I was talking to a friend from Rotary. He was asking how I was going and after about five minutes he said “Your voice has changed”. I asked how? He said when he first met me about six years ago, he knew I was deaf because of my speech. Now he wouldn’t know! He said I used to speak from the back of my mouth but now it is projected forward to the front and sounds much better.

Since my CIs I now only occasionally use the captioning on tv, I can listen to the radio (previously this was just a noise) whilst in the car, as well as music. I can now use the telephone, though this took a while – I found a speaker phone was easier to begin with, but as my hearing improved I began using the hand piece. A big bonus has been that I now understand most of what is spoken through a microphone – when you lip-read that can be very difficult.

I have found I have greater confidence in myself as a result of the receiving my cochlear implants. I speak with work clients more now, whereas previously I often stayed in the background.

Having my cochlear implants has definitely been the right decision for me and for my family. However, it was all only possible due to a wonderful surgeon, Professor Da Cruz, and the great ongoing support of the SCIC team. I am so grateful to them for their dedication to continuously helping improve the benefits of my implants.  I am really looking forward to the future.