Okay so let’s jump to the year 2008, after my mothers death I arrived back in my home town of Gibraltar to try and piece back my life. I had never had hearing aids before this year as my mothers illness had taken priority so even though my parents knew of my struggle there was just no time to invest in me to try and fix the problem, so I had to learn to adapt and from a very young age was taught to lip read. Lip reading made my life easier to begin with and helped hide my disability well, especially when it came to school, friends and socialising. I would consciously sit at the very front, I would always make sure I paid extra attention worrying that if I didn’t I wouldn’t be able to handle the task I was being given or answer the questions I needed too. Deafness is something that runs in the family so unfortunately I haven’t been the only one affected by this disability. Fast forward to the year 2008, I had settled back home and my auntie knew that I was experiencing problems with my hearing and decided it was finally time at the age of 18 that I see an audiologist and try and get me some help, Off I went and had some hearing tests to determine how bad it actually was, when the audiologist came out holding his head and shaking from side to side with a frown I instantly knew it was going to be bad. You see apart from the neglect of those around me, the number of infections I was having every year were getting more and more. I had had grommets when I was younger in trying to aid the infections but to no avail. So out I come from the hearing test booth, he looks at me straight and says ‘ how is this possible?, how is your speech so good?, how have you coped for this long without hearing aids?’ my answer, simple I just adapted. I said to him ‘ so it’s bad huh? ‘ Bad’ wasn’t the word he used to describe my deafness, it was terrible and he just couldn’t believe I had been this long without any help at all.
Adapting to the hearing world had been far from easy, I was constantly getting things mixed up and would hear things that weren’t accurate at all, causing a lot of misunderstandings with my peers, teachers and often family and friends. Lip reading helped to a certain extent but with that came other difficulties such as migraines from straining my eyesight. I loved school and I did well, got good grades, made friends easily and loved both the studying and the writing aspects of schooling. My teachers were always impressed with my level of work but then again they had no idea what was really going on as I was very good at hiding the huge part of me that affected me the most. As I was slowly approaching my teenage years life at home became very complicated and my parents divorced, meaning I had to become my mothers primary carer and eventually at the age of 15 leave school to look after both her and my younger brother, again my hearing took a back seat as there was more important things happening.
Receiving my first pair of hearing aids at the age of 18 was a huge milestone for me, I remember them being turned on and hearing the voices of people sitting outside the doctors office, the wind, the telephone and all this just inside the building. Little did I know that once outside a bigger hearing world would be unveiled. After leaving the audiologists office I experienced my first ever proper anxiety attack. I was so overwhelmed with all the new sounds I was experiencing that I started shaking and couldn’t move, I literally froze to the spot and began crying after hearing the cars and motorbikes zoom close to me, I had to eventually call my boyfriend to come and pick me up as I was so overwhelmed by the sounds. I remember getting home having to take them off and eventually have a sleep as the whole experience had left me exhausted. Slowly things calmed down and I got used to having them, learning people’s voices and learning sounds I had forgotten existed anymore. I heard the birds singing, the wind humming, people chatting and walking, I just took everything in and was thankful to have finally found the wonders of sound. After about 5-6 years of having the hearing aids I had reached the maximum potential on them and they were becoming less and less useful to me. With help from family and friends we started researching different options for me and eventually stumbled across the cochlear Implant device. Eventually I was sent to the UK to meet the cochlear implant team, but this would only be the first of many meetings and the beginning of struggles AND HURDLES to get the next big device that would change my life.
Stay tuned to see my journey to the cochlear implant ………………. hold on to your seats.