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3rd mapping appointment confidence!

By the time my 3rd mapping appointment came I was used to going there and back on my own as my husband stayed behind to look after our girls. I decided that I didn’t want to bored in a room anymore and thought I should enjoy my new me, so I started travelling around the area and found a gym that had pay as you go sessions. I thought to myself this was a new experience and a new chance to really get out there and listen to some more sounds to learn them. I attended a few times during the week that I was there.

When I went to see my audiologist we did some more mapping and adjustments to my cochlear implant sound processor which included 4 new settings, 1: scan but in other words this setting is for every day use 2: 1 to 1 which is for when I’m in a conversation with another person and I want to concentrate solely on that person and what they’re saying 3: cafe which is for when I’m with more than one person, the microphone in my processor will turn and adjust according to the person talking to me. 4: music (my fav so far) which is precisely for what the name says music. At this stage the audiologist also added some other perks for me as this would be the trip that I would be away from her for longer than 2 weeks so she added the forward focus perk which blocks out all other noises except that which I’m concentrating on, she also gave me full access to the app through my fone which allows me to adjust volume,treble and bass. After this appointment as usual I saw the speak therapist who did the excersises with me and also gave me work to do whilst I was back home for a longer period. On continuation of this I saw my surgeon who checked everything was well with me, addressed any concerns and gave me the all clear for this stage of the process and congratulated me on my hard work and told me that he would see me further along to check the progress but that medically and surgically I was all clear.

Due to the covid situation I could not fly back straight away and had another 3 days to kill before I got home so this woman decided to brave it and booked herself to see the natural history museum and the science museum. (Pics will be included). I had such an amazing time at both these museums not only because of what I saw and experiences but because I felt so independent and confident that I was doing it alone. I pressed every single talking button possible just to test my new implant. Because I am still hearing robotic voices and noises I didn’t hear everything but I did hear alot more than I had heard in a long time. I still struggled with the masks so whenever a member of staff talked to me I politely told them that I was deaf and had just recently had the implant fitted so needed them to lower they’re masks so I could lip read and awnser them, I have to say they were quite accomodating and brilliant with it and even got a few congratulations from them which was lovley. I explored all the exhibits at both mususems and when I left although exhausted I was so proud of what I had achieved that day. I had gone out on my own in a very busy London, had listened and practiced my listening through the button pressing and story telling anddd I had been around people and for the first time in a really long time hadn’t shied away from it. I was absolutely in love with the new me, the me that was confident and not afraid to share herself with people and try new things. It’s a day I will not forget ever because I finally found me a little more. I hope you all enjoy the pictures of my big adventure because it really is a very proud moment for me. Now who knows what adventures the next time I’m back for mapping will bring…….

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Sounds!!!

Sounds were very echoed after the turn on and very robotic for me in fact sometimes they still are. I spent the next couple of days exploring all sounds possible and working on my checklist book. Talking to the people around me. I remember all I could say most of the time was I heard that, omg I heard that. I was so fascinated by the change and being able to hear all these different sounds again. I know I am a rare case as most cochlear implant users only experience beeping sounds and clicks to begin with so being able to hear actual words and sounds was amazing for me. I talked to as many people as I could all the time, for the first time in ages I wanted to actually be surrounded by people and be out and about to see what I could hear. I was regularly meeting the amazing group of friends I had made in calpe house and sharing with them exactly what it was that I was experiencing. What new sounds I had heard ect. Soon it was time to fly back to Gibraltar and face my family and friends with my new implant finally turned on.

Showing my friends and family my new device was amazing and truly liberating. I know they too had shared in my struggles and frustrations so I knew how much this meant to them aswell as me. Sharing with them all I had done at the first mapping on turn on, the different settings that would need to be changed every 3 days and showing them how I put it on and off. I showed them the new app that was now on my phone which was used to manage the stettings and manage the device too. There was alot of things I still could not hear and things I yet have to discover even now but one of the most important sounds I did want to hear was my children’s voices. Hearing them meant so much to me after so long, my eldest I could remember her voice but my youngest it had been a while since I had heard hers. So when I came home I just wanted to hear them call out for me and call me mummy because to me that was the most beautiful sound I could ever hear.

I remember coming home, going to get the girls from school and talking to people on the way and being able to communicate better with other parents waiting at the gates. I was still struggling with a lot of sounds and words as the world was and is still using masks and therefore that was still hard. Having the implant hasn’t stopped the struggle I face as a deaf person when it comes to masks not yet. Because there is a process when it comes to learning with the implant it doesn’t mean I am instantly fixed, that’s not it. It means I am a work in progress, so I still struggle with hearing a a lot of things. But with time clarity will be achieved.

Whilst I was home I did my homework and practiced listening as much as I possibly could. Engaging in conversations often to help me learn sounds again. I would only be home for 10 days before I would have to travel back to my mapping appointments. I have been travelling to UK every 2 weeks for the mapping appointments with the audiologists and speech therapist. Every 3 days I did as I was told and changed the setting on the device. Some changes were big but some were unnoticeable at first, also I found that because of my long thick hair and the skin around the implant still being swollen and dispite having the strongest magnet on the device that it would fall off known as coil offs. This was a bit frustrating for me and sometimes got overwhelmed with frustration, but somehow I thought to myself ‘ how am I complaining so soon? After everything, this is what we’ve wanted for so long’. I thought I was being selfish for getting frustrated with it all because I had put so much and so had my family and friends for this for me to now be complaining, eventually those around me reminded me that this was a huge change and that even thought this was exactly what I wanted it was going to take time and work for me to get used to it, and if I had to complain and vent and get it all out that that was also part of the journey. Talking about it all and letting things out was healthy and was also a part of the healing process. Soon it was time to head back to England for my next mapping session with the audiologist. So once again I said goodbye to my friends and family and headed off.

My first solo trip as my husband stayed behind to look after our girls, scary but at the same time liberating…. The perfect chance to test myself and become independent once again. And my journey continues………

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Sunday Reflection Post #1

I would like to use my Sunday posts not for my journey only but to reflect on everything, and helping you guys get to know and understand me a bit more.

Writing the last few posts has been emotional to say the least, reliving those amazing, wonderful memories have made me tear up and feel the same joy that I have experienced on those occasions. My journey is not EASY, and I have a lot of work that i have to do to be able to achieve the best possible results with the cochlear implant device. it takes time and dedication but also a lot of determination. Determination is something I definitely have, I want this to work, this implant is my last chance at hearing so I will do everything in my power to make it work. I am beyond grateful for all the opportunities I am receiving and cannot wait to see what else my journey brings me.

Reflecting on everyone and everything in my life I truly see how blessed I am but not only now but before all this, my family and friends have supported me in every way possible throughout the years. they have cried with me, laughed with me, shared my frustrations but also my blessings. I am lucky to have such people around me for the good, bad and ugly. My children since an early age have had to learn about mummy’s deafness and have had to adapt themselves to accommodate me, since they were young they were taught that I needed clear concise words out of them for the sake of lip reading, they were taught that they had to alert me if there was a knock on the door or the telephone rang, if someone spoke to me etc. My husband he had to adapt too, learn to deal with his own frustrations at times. My friends they are just amazing they have taken all this and more on board and have not once let me feel like I’m not a part of them or their lives, they include me in anything and everything. I could not be more grateful for that. They have not once said I can’t be something or do something I put my mind too.

With it being the hard times we are all experiencing we should all be grateful for the things we do have, love a little more and cherish and remember those no longer with us. Life is a rollercoaster but it up to us to get on it and ride and enjoy the experience to the fullest, it is too short for anything else than to find some happiness in all we do. It has taken me a long long time to get here and into this frame of mind but I want to wake up every morning and just be grateful for another chance at breathing and learning and sharing things and especially sharing things with those close to me.

HAPPY SUNDAY EVERYONE!! Hug those close to you and be thankful and grateful for them. I know I will.

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Meeting some new friends and fun during activation day.

Whilst I was in UK we stayed in a goverment funded home away from home. On previous trips we had a hard time seeing and meeting other people using the facilities due to covid-19. During my activation days though we were very fortunate to meet an amazing group of people. Even though all who attend Calpe house are there for medical reasons sometimes meeting and making a new friend can make the experience seem less daunting. We were lucky on this trip and met an amazing bunch of people. People who would become good friends to us in our time there. People who would often include us in having coffees or a smoking break for a chat. These were the people that got to experience my joy first after the activation.

Once we got back to calpe house we informed everyone of our return and they came to meet us, they asked about how it had all gone and it was Thier voices I got to hear first after the audiologist and my husband. The sounds were incredible to me, everyone participated in seeing what I could hear and in my joy of what that day meant to me. I will forever be grateful for Thier warmth and kindness during this important stage of my journey. To this day we all stay in touch and I’ve seen them a few times since and they really do hold a special place in my heart and always will.

My husband had decided that we would take a stroll in the famous Hyde park so that I could experience some new sounds, so we got changed and off we went, I was listening so hard trying to absorb as much of everything as I possibly could. I heard the scraping of my feet against the ground, the crunching of the leaves beneath my feet, horses were galloping and birds were signing. I was in complete awe at all these sounds. I have to say I laughed and giggled so much on the leaves crunching one that I had to keep repeating the sound over and over again. I felt like a child in a new environment full off new toys and a huge playground to play in. I kept telling me husband I can hear that, oh but I heard this, oh again I heard that and laughing my way away. At one point we sat down with a drink just to soak in everything when my head suddenly turned and he asked me if I’d heard the sound, I had but I was unable to recognize what made the sound in the first place, so he explained and showed me that it was in fact a bird making the sound, my smile was hugeee, I had HEARD that.

I was loving hearing my husbands voice so much( how long will that last? Hahaha). It was such an important day for me to be able to experience this. The audiologist was right though I mean the whole process can take anywhere between a year to 18 months to be at your best hearing capacity so it is a long journey and not an overnight one, so there was alot I couldn’t hear or couldn’t make out. Certain words my husband and people spoke were also hard for me to hear and that will take time but I was hearing more that day than I had in so long, so I did not let what I couldn’t hear get me down as the change had been so much that precisely that is all I could think about, I was thinking about what I COULD hear.

I knew I still had a long way to go but for that day, what I did have was enough and I was taking it ALL in……….. I had been welcomed into the world of hearing!!!

Hyde Park
Enjoying New Sounds.
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8th June 2021

Activation day!!!

Activation day, finally. I had hardly slept the night before from the excitement of this day. We sat there in the waiting area and my palms were sweaty but I was so excited that day, it was finally here the moment of truth. I have had amazing moments in my life like the birth of my children, getting married and this one was no exception it was right up top along with those things. I had waited so long and it meant so much to me and my family to be there that day.

We were called in by the audiologist so we went to the audiology suite. Once I sat down I was asked some post op questions and these were recorded into my records. Once all that had been done and I had told her everything about how I was recovering over the last few weeks it was time to bring in the device, the cochlear implant came with a variety of equipment to help me with the maintenance of it, it brought different clips some for the hair and some for the clothes, this stops the device should it disconnect for whatever reason not to land on the floor and keeps it safe. I was given magnets, brushes, information leaflets, my charging box which works as a dehumidifier and is air tight once closed to protect the device once all the bits and pieces were explained it was time for the BIG device, my cochlear implant. 

It was connected up to the computer and a file was created which would be my hearing profile for the implant. She asked me ‘ what are your expectations?’ and I proceeded to tell her that I knew that at first it would consist of sounds being beeps and little sounds until my brain learnt to use the signals of the device and turned them into words. She was happy with my reply as I knew it was a long road ahead with the device before I would be able to hear a lot of sounds, its today and I’m still learning new sounds all the time with the implant.

It was the moment of truth and on it went, she started talking to me and my eyes teared up and I started to laugh because of the nerves i had in me, I COULD HEAR HER!! She was talking to me and I could hear words and sounds coming out of her. I cried so many tears of joy, there was a lot of crackling and it was echoey but I could hear words, full on words. She asked my partner who was there to speak to me and I heard his voice talking to me. I just could not stop laughing and crying all at the same time, I was so overwhelmed by the whole thing and my nerves were just at an all time high. I could not ever describe well enough the happiness I felt at that moment, the joy it was something else entirely to anything I have ever experienced in my life. ( there is a short video below at the end of the blog to show my moment of truth). 

After I had calmed down enough to proceed, the audiologist started working on tuning the device, which consists of listening to different sounds at different volumes to determine when the volume was at the right setting for me. There are additional settings that are out into the device which would need to be changed every 3 days at the beginning( now they are set settings). She also tested me to see the change in my hearing profile and went through everything again to make sure I was fully ready to leave. I would need to travel back to see her every 2 weeks for more tuning and changing of settings to improve the help the device would offer me.  And with that my first day with the implant had begun.

After being with the audiologist it was time for the second appointment of the day and the second part of the entire process meeting the speech therapist. The speech therapist is to give you tools and homework to do during the process so you can get the most out of your cochlear implant device. I was handed a booklet which had different sections on different sounds that I would now be slowly learning to hear. This booklet has two columns, one where you write the day you first HEAR the sound whilst visually looking at it and the second column is when you RECOGNIZE the sound without looking at it, an example of this is hearing the clock in the room so I wrote the date down and a few days later when I heard it and said to myself oh that’s the sound of a clock I wrote that date since I had recognized the sound of the clock without looking at it. We then did some listening exercises where she would say a word and I had to say it back and then the same with some sentences. Once I was set up with that and had all these tasks and tools to practice covered it was done until 2 weeks time.

OUT INTO A NEW WORLD I WENT. But little did I know that this was only the beginning and my life was about to change on a whole different level. I was finally working my way back into the hearing world and I for one could not wait. 

That first day had left me exhausted from all the feelings I had experienced so I did need a sleep after all of it as it was very overwhelming but I could not have been happier. And now it was time to go back home and share it with my friends and family but that would take another few days.

My Big Moment!
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The Road To Recovery

The week after the surgery was not the easiest of things to go through, I was quite dizzy, vomiting all the time and whenever I changed positions I would get very light headed. If my body decided I had done too much that day then my legs wouldn’t work, so I spent a lot of time in bed trying to figure out the most comfortable position possible. My head felt heavy and sore. 

I would occasionally take short walks to the garden in front of the building I was staying at to get some air and stability in my feet, but nothing strenuous as I would usually need to recover for the next 24 hours because of it. 

I was fortunate to have a family member visit me during this time and it was such a relief to have that as it boosted me up seeing them. 

10 days post op I went to have my stitches removed and to have a check up on the surgery, I met a wonderful staff nurse who removed my stitches and checked the incision wound. According to the nurse everything looked great and I was truly on the way to recovery. I was told I could not fly for another 3.5 weeks so I couldn’t go home just yet. To be honest, as much as i wanted to come back home to Gibraltar i was still in no condition to fly.  Me and my husband spent the next few weeks trying to get me into the best condition possible to go back home to our 2 girls. I knew that soon I would be reunited with them and 2 weeks after that I would come back to turn on the device. 

My first time back home from surgery was surreal. Meeting my girls, my dad and my cousin at the airport was emotional for me as I had never been away from them so long. It felt Amazing to be home but somehow selfishly maybe I couldn’t count down the days hard enough to fly back to get my device turned on.  Those 2 weeks at home were hard as some days were still better than others and I still needed help, i remember one day feeling so unwell I had to call my mother to pick up my girls from school as I just couldn’t handle getting out of bed. But soon over those 2 weeks I managed to pick myself up and deal with life. I knew and was ready for the good days and the bad days. Everything was explained to me clearly by the team.  I was experiencing short term numbness on the side of my head and face which I was told would go between then and 6 months, so would the ‘EPISODES’ as I called them of dizziness and vomiting. 

Soon June 6th came around and it was time to head back for my turn on. And before we get into this please believe me that this was one of  the BEST moments in my entire life. All the struggles, tears, frustration and pain had led me to this moment. It was finally time to welcome me back into the hearing world again, however small that change would be. I knew it was more than I had had in a very long time.

So we boarded that plane and took off to the next part of my hearing journey…………………….

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April 2021

On the 29th of April 2021 I went in to the new hospital that now houses the cochlear implant clinics to have my surgery. Eastman dental hospital!!

I travelled to the new hospital and unfortunately because of covid-19 I went on my own without my husband. Which in itself was another inconvenience of Covid as I had to go through all this alone and without anyone being by my side, especially as my husband had waited for this day as much as I had. The admissions team was amazing in every sense of the way and as they knew I was deaf were extra friendly and made extra sure I understood and was in the loop the entire time. Once inside the pre op area I was thoroughly asked questions about my health that could possibly influence the surgery. I spoke with the anaesthesiologist, the team and nurses who would be looking after me for the next 5 hours in surgery.  I had blood pressure taken, got a venflon on for drips etc just in case. After about an hour and once all questions had been asked and answered they wheeled me into the theatre. I remember talking to everyone and I met a lovely nurse who had been here in Gibraltar helping through the pandemic and had just returned to the UK to continue working over there. I just asked for one minute before they started to add the anesthesia. I got really emotional as I suddenly really realised this was it, the moment I had fought so long for, 5 years of fighting and this was it. I asked for that minute so I could be grateful that I was finally doing it. I had a good cry whilst a lovely nurse who must have known how much it meant to me held my hand. They just let me let it all out and once I was ready I took a deep breath and lied down and said ‘let’s do this’.

About 5 hours later I awoke from the surgery…… Yes I looked like a smurf except I wasn’t blue jajaja 😂

Once I had woken up I asked for something to eat and a drink, go to the toilet and for someone to call my husband to let him know that I was awake again, the lovely nurse said in a joking funny way  to me ” so which one we going to do first, can’t do them all? What order are we going in” and we suddenly both burst into a laugh.” I replied okay toilet first, then some food and drink and whilst doing that I will call my husband and let him know everything went well”. I was in pain but the pain relief they must have provided me through surgery was pretty good and was helping me manage my pain. At about 7.30 pm I was told I could go home if I wished and I instantly jumped at the chance as all I really wanted was to be with my husband, I was feeling unwell and just needed him around to hug me and make me feel better. We called him and he came to pick me up to take me back to the place we had been staying in to recover.

That first night I was told to expect dizziness and unbalance and some nausea which true to Their words was exactly how I spent my first night. I could hardly walk from the dizziness and any sudden movements made me feel awfully sick to the point of throwing up. My husband would often help me and carry me to and from the toilet and this would go on for the next few days.  I was in pain and unwell but I still felt grateful that the worst of it was done and now only the best things were about to happen.  I had been told that my turn on date would be June 8th.  But still I had to wait a few weeks to heal and get steady.

What would the next few weeks bring? How would recovery go? …………… Let’s see.

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Back To UK

Here I was again back in the Nuffield ear nose and throat hospital to reapply for the cochlear implant, because by the time I had come again it had been over a year I was told I would have to go through all the testing again.  The first one was lip reading without sound and the second test was lip reading with sound and both my hearing aids on. I also did the words list test where the audiologist team would say words without me looking at them and I would have to repeat the words back followed by full sentences with different words that sounded the same but were in fact different. I again scored quite high on the lip reading but low on all the other tests, therefore I was told we could speak with the consultant and see what the next plan of action would be.

Once in the room with the consultant and his team I was told that based on all the results of the tests I was still just on the border line to be eligible but not quite there. The infections were too frequent and therefore the operation could not be done until the infections were under control. I remember going back to the place where I was staying and thinking, why?? How am I not deaf enough yet? how am I just on the border line? Why are these infections not clearing when I am doing everything possible to both prevent them and look after myself when I have them. you see, I know I spent months at a time with the infections and I did everything possible. I made sure to take my hearing aids off plenty to let the ears ventilate, I did not wear them when I was with infection and I constantly cleaned them.  I just couldn’t understand that I was struggling so much and having all sorts of difficulties and yet they thought I still was not ready for this operation. I just wanted a bit of normality back, a bit of life quality. work was so hard, especially once the pandemic hit. I just couldn’t communicate effectively with my co-workers, I was leaving every single shift with throbbing migraines and in tears once I got home. It was affecting my eyes as well because I was trying to concentrate extra hard all the time, but with masks that was impossible, I just could not communicate with them half the time. I felt very isolated during this period and even though I love my job, I got a massive depression and anxiety during this period. So much so that in October 2020 I had to go off sick with said depression and anxiety. I had to go on medication and sought out help from professionals as the me I knew was not there. I would cry over anything and everything and I was scared to death of going out.

November 2020 came and I received another appointment to visit the Cochlear Implant team in the UK, so again off I went to Nuffield hospital where I saw the consultants registrar, we sat down and discussed how things had been and if the infections had slowed down, which by now they had. Once I told him that yes they had calmed down slightly and he checked my ears, did some CT’S and MRI’S on the ear and saw how everything was. He decided to give me the news that I had so eagerly been awaiting, YESSSS to the implant surgery!!!. Finally I was eligible enough to have the surgery. I sat there crying at his words and was so excited to finally get this ball rolling. He told me he was happy with all the tests he had performed and that he would be in touch with me once back home in Gibraltar to arrange dates for the surgery and to send me 3 different types of cochlear implant devices so i could look at them and decide which one I wanted to go with. A few weeks later I got the phone call that the surgery had been arranged for January of 2021. and to ask if I had chosen a device so it could be ordered. I had chosen the Kanso 2, the Kanso 2 fitted into what I wanted from the device and to be honest it was also the smallest and closest in colour to my hair, plus I knew I didn’t want the behind the ears device as i knew the struggles id had with the hearing aids and the pain and uncomfortableness that came with it. I had 3 choices listen below :



THE RONDO 3 SOUND PROCESSOR
THE SONNET 2 AUDIO PROCESSOR
THE KANSO 2 SOUND PROCESSOR

But the journey was not yet to be and just before Christmas 2020 they cancelled my surgery due to COVID-19, they rescheduled to February but again this was cancelled. finally they called me to again book the surgery for APRIL 2020 and here the real journey begins…….

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The devices that have helped make my life better over the last 13 years. The hearing aid and the Kanso 2 cochlear implant device.

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What Does Being deaf Mean For Me?

Before we can talk about the cochlear implant surgery and device I want to share with all of you reading this what it means to be deaf for me.

Being deaf for me has been a struggle, I’ve never felt more isolated than with this disability ever. It isolated me from friends, family, colleagues, teachers and my peers at school. I could not hear the television, I could not actively participate in conversations and many many more everyday things. Something as simple as hearing a bird tweet in the morning, or the door knocking. The sound of my own voice. The many everyday sounds that everyone else around me takes for granted every single day.  The birth of my children really intensified my fear of being deaf especially because I had the constant worry that I would not hear them cry, that if they made a choking sound I would not be able to realise in time. If they called out or simply just needed me I wouldn’t know any better.  It means not being able to handle phone conversations for the last few years and struggling with that. I got married in 2018 and I didn’t hear the vows I lip read from the registrar In front of me, not that it took away from all the wonderful feelings of the occasion but it would have been nice to have heard more than just a few words. It means frustration at the world who does not understand that you haven’t heard the excuse of someone trying to pass you, or the person calling out your name. It’s the fear that you can’t hear the cars or motorcycles coming from behind you. It’s the desperation of someone talking so fast and you only getting some of what they’re saying therefore because you don’t want to put your foot in it you keep quiet. It’s not being able to watch movies without reading the subtitles, it’s reading the lyrics or feeling the vibrations of the song because you can’t hear the music.

It’s also a lot of relying on those around you. You rely on them for everything that you need to do. My children have adapted to my deafness and make me aware when there’s a knock on the door, or my phone is ringing. If someone is talking to me. They changed how they communicated with me and know that they must always face me so I can lip read, they were taught from a young age to talk and articulate properly as I needed this to be able to communicate with them.  It’s not just my children who have had to adapt and change, my husband, my friends, my family, everyone that I meet I need to let them know ‘ hey here’s the deal I can’t hear you so need you to be patient with me’.

The Pandemic

The Pandemic brought about a whole new range of struggles for me. MASKS! What a way to definitely isolate the deaf community, no more lip reading possible. What happened? I stopped communicating. I stopped going out, I stopped being the sociable bubbly person I’ve always been. Why? Because when I felt isolated and unable to communicate my migraines were the worst they’ve ever been, I cried so much my heart hurt and developed depression and anxiety about just being close to another human being. Having to keep telling people I was deaf and I couldn’t communicate with them through the masks was absolutely pointless, people had just lost all compassion and they looked at you as if you were completely crazy for insinuating that they should lower Their mask to talk to me, therefore I stopped trying.

I am a healthcare assistant. As you can imagine through the Pandemic the struggle was also very real at work where we had to use the correct PPE in order to not only protect ourselves but those most vulnerable. Hearing in effect with the hearing aid had been useless for some years by this Pandemic therefore and masks, visors ect to the mix that makes it impossible for this deaf person. So yet again the feeling of being useless and helpless made the depression and anxiety worse, isolating even more by needing to take medication just so I could stop crying and live somewhat of a life. I went off sick in October due to this and due to a lot of other factors that affected my ability to do my job in the best way possible.

As a final piece of information I urge those reading up until now to please be kind, please be compassionate and considerate to those struggling with deafness, because we are so isolated right now. We need all the support we can get and more love than ever. More understanding of deafness and how it affects people, training in every company should be done to be more accessible.  People need to change Thier views on deaf people, we are not stupid we are not anything less than a human being wanting to be seen and heard by our community, wanting to be understood and helped in any way possible to make this extremely hard time just a bit easier. On another note please reach out to those not necessarily deaf but that are struggling, hug them just a little tighter, let them know you are there, do not give up on them.

Xoxo

Jess

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Life Before Hearing Aids And When I Received My First Hearing Aids.

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. 

Growth and Life Experiences!

Hey guys I know I know it’s been a while, life has been crazy busy and so many changes in the last few months that have kept me on my toes, LITERALLY!!

I want to talk a little about growth today. What does growth mean to you guys on a personal level? For me it means growing as person and becoming a better and sharper version of you. Which surprisingly is what I have been working on the last few months. The cochlear implant has opened up such a new way of life that it’s hard to not just want to enjoy it. I’ve been working on becoming a healthier me, visiting the gym, going out with friends at every possible chance and just enjoying being around sound and people. I’m closer to my friends now more than ever as I’m truly engaging with them and not hiding away in my home. I’m enjoying meals out at restaurants and just enjoying conversations with everyone.

Now for those that have read my previous posts know that this time last year things were not this way. I was in a state of severe anxiety and depression which had isolated me and confined me to my house. I wanted nothing to do with people much less look at them in fear that they would strike a conversation I could not keep up with or understand due to masks. Masks are still a big issue for me as I am still adjusting to life with the cochlear implant but when they are not involved conversations flow and I am hearing more and more each day. Life is loud. ha didn’t think I would ever use those words. But it is. Sometimes as I am still adjusting it can be just a little too loud and do find myself needing breaks so that I can calm myself down.

In new developments in my latest appointment with my audiologist I was told to reintroduce my hearing aid in my left ear as to help me balance things out. It is so different hearing with a hearing aid to a cochlear implant at least it is for me, and find that I am unbalanced still but then again it’s early days. I am just so grateful that I can now take part of different experiences and share them with those I love. I’m finding myself slowly being the old me and I can honestly say that I am grateful to be able to wake up every day put on my cochlear implant and see what the day holds for me. Don’t get me wrong Im still having my bad days just as any one else but slowly the good is overtaking the bad.

So if you see me do wave, do stop and say hello, tell me how well you see me because trust me you will never know what those words mean to me. Because for a long time I wanted nothing more than that. Tell me about how things are with you, ask me about my device and how it has changed my world because there is nothing that means more to me than to share my journey with you all. And to grow, experience things and finally just enjoy you guys!! My friends and family have been my rock with the whole journey and I couldn’t have done it without them. My kids they’ve just been outstanding with it all, it amazes me every day how resilient kids are and how quickly they adapt to new things. I’m proud of them too because it has been a crazy year if alot of changes and they have muscled on and made everything amazing and worthwhile for me.

Keep shining everyone and grow, become a better version of you, work hard, make time for those you love and for yourself and above all have experiences and memories with them,, those will stay with you forever! REMEMBER YOU ARE WORTH IT!

Lunch dates!
Shine and be happy!
Holiday 2021
Lunch dates!
Happy halloween
Holiday 2021
Friends making memories
A new look for a new 👂
Holiday mode 2021 hubby and me!

My first solo trip!!

I went to uk on my own this time round as my husband had commitments to stay with our girls. I had always relied on someone for everything I did as with no hearing it was hard to do alot by myself especially when it came to travelling and hearing the speakers, so this was a big thing for me. My husband always helped me explain to security about the implant and the magnets because I can’t go through the full security scanner as it would erase the mappings and settings of the device.  So he dropped me off at the airport and I said my goodbyes to my little family.  Once I had checked in and made sure I had special assistance apart from the fact that I wouldn’t hear the boarding calls I was still having what I called ‘episodes’ which was the dizzyness and vertigo that came with recovering from the surgery so the doctors and sponsered patients here in Gibraltar thought it would be best to provide me with the special assistance.

I went through security explaining about the scanners then proceeded to the waiting area and finally boarded the plane for my first solo trip to England. Once I got there a taxi picked me up and took me to Calpe house where my lovley group of friends were waiting for me having promised my husband that I would be looked after and entertained by them.  I will be honest and say this time round because I was on my own I did shy away a lot and mainly stayed in my room. Sleeping at night was hard as my mind was constantly racing at being alone but also because I was just scared, I’m not afraid to say that anymore but I was, when you rely on people all the time for simple tasks it can be quite hard to let go of that. Thankfully my friends there made sure we met up and had our regular meeting for coffee and treats and chats. I was grateful to have them there to lean on for my first trip alone. I’m normally a very bubbly person but this trip I felt shy and isolated myself a bit, it was lovley especially at nights not to have someone in the room with me to talk too but during the day I had plenty of company and love around me. 

On the Tuesday after my arrival it was time to head to Eastman dental hospital for my mapping session. I had a new audiologist this time round who has been amazing in my journey with the implant I cannot thank her enough for all her hard work with me. Again. I was asked how everything had gone back home and we Began working on the new settings for this rounds mapping. Again I had to do the tests of sounds and say when they were loud but comfortable and at a place I felt happy with that. the audiologist also told me that again we would need to change settings every 3 days and that this time round I probably wouldn’t notice the change too much as it was going to be more subtle.After hearing the sounds and again setting the mark going through the list it was time to head to the speech therapist to do some more sound work and listening excersises.

We worked on looking at my homework booklet and also my app work on listening. We again did excersises where I had to repeat the word she said without looking at her or lip reading and also sentences. After this was done she proceeded to do sentences that had 2 words that sounded similar and I had to say which word was actually being used. On this trip I actually got quite a few mixes up and was saying the wrong words alot but I was told this was normal as I had only had the device in for a short time. Remember the whole process takes around a year to a year and a half to complete so it was still early days but that I was still making slow progress. I was happy to hear this as I was working hard to do everything in my power to help myself get to where I needed to get too. The speech therapist gave me some new apps to work on my listening and was told to keep up the good work

I was told that again I could go back home and return again in 2 weeks for the next mapping session. So again I came home to my family and used all the tips given to me. I worked hard again on my homework and made sure to practice all I needed too so that the next mapping would be just as positive as this one.

Getting the implant isn’t just having the surgery and connecting the device and boom I’m fixed. Having the cochlear implant is hard work to achieve your goals. You are a work in progress and it takes time to get hearing back, especially after so long without hearing sounds. It means going back to being like a child who constantly asks what’s that? What’s this? It is a learning process. I have to work every day on my listening and talking and identifying new sounds. That means me sitting there and opening a tap 4 times to hear the water run so I know what it sounds like, or asking a friend to knock a few times and identify that. It’s hearing the phone ring for a while before I pick up so I can know what it sounds like, or simply just hearing the same word over and over so I can learn it. Like I said I have to work on it every day and can’t just say not today because if not there can be setbacks and the implant looses it’s usefulness. This trip I made would be the first of many solos but I slowly would open up to the world around me and start being more independent every time I travelled back. After this trip I wasn’t so scared anymore and knew that if I had handled it then I could handle it again.

When I came home I was so exited to share everything that I was experiencing with everyone. Everyone was asking how it had all gone and I couldn’t wait to tell them. It was all so new to me that everything was exciting. I literally wanted to share this with everyone and anyone that would listen, it was that important to me. Unfortunately time went by so quick here at home and it was soon time to go back for my second mapping appointment. Again I would travel alone so my husband could stay here with our children.

But this time I would actually enjoy things a little more and do more. I can’t wait to share that with all you reading this. Till the next time Au revouir.