Miracles do happen! Just when I had given up hope of ever getting a Cochlea Implant I was offered a Subsidised CI. I had the surgery in Mid November and this was followed by 3 weeks of near silence which sorely tested me. Unable to wear my main hearing aid because that ear had been implanted I was totally dependent on others and very vulnerable – not a comfortable place to be. Everyone said just relax and enjoy the break but I found that an impossible task.
December 7th was ‘switch on’ and I was trying not to have unrealistic expectations. Just as well because although I was relieved to have some sound coming in it didn’t make much sense and I found myself wondering whether it was all going to be worth it. Over lunch I was really trying to hear my family and it was a struggle when suddenly I heard my grand-daughter call me. Yes I HEARD HER – I was not looking at her, I did not lipread her call I heard her. In that moment I knew that it would work. There would be much hard work and concentration ahead but it would work.
At Christmas I went to a Lessons and Carols Service and nearly ran out because the organ and singing sounded so awful to me. I could not hear the tune or any of the words. Still I persevered and when the readings began I was concentrating hard. Suddenly, miraculously I heard a word, then a phrase out of the jumble of sound. All the different voices and as I listened I was hearing them. Not completely, but more than I had heard for a very long time. The words seemed to appear out of all the sound that was around me. I had become aware of ticking clocks and running water and sounds I now knew were birds. Environmental sounds were all around but the speech was the amazing discovery. Yes I know that this has happened for others and I have been privileged to read some of their stories but when it is happening to you it is amazing, miraculous, unbelievable and just pure delight.
I have now had my one month check and know that I am doing well. The audiologist testing me says I am doing really well. My friends have been putting me through my paces and giving me lots of listening practice and I am already hearing lots of conversations that I would have missed before. The generosity of others and their willingness to help me has been an inspiration and truly humbling. I am already more confident and do not need to feel I have someone at my side all the time in case I get into a muddle because I don’t understand. I have spoken to my daughter on the phone and hope soon to be confident to talk to anyone who calls. My brain has begun to accept the sounds and put everything into perspective. I no longer feel bombarded with sound. Amazingly things are beginning to sound normal and it has taken such a short time really. What an amazing thing the human brain is and how adaptable.
So, how has this all been financially possible? What is a Subsidised Cochlea Implant?
In my case the costs have been shared out several ways. I had Hospital Only Health Insurance and that covered the Surgeon, Anaesthetist and Hospital Costs. The Northern CI Trust paid for the actual CI device. I had to find the money for my health insurance excess and the first years Audiology Appointment fees. I will also have to fund all replacements for the equipment as time goes by but I have time to save for the major costs such as a replacement processor after 5 years. To cover the initial costs my husband and I have taken a small mortgage against our property. For us the funding of the full cost of a CI at our stage of life was too big a hurdle but this shared cost has become manageable. For every Subsidised CI the combination will be different but do not give up hope, look for what works for you and your circumstances and believe it will be worth it.
My journey has just begun and already I can see the benefits – the increased communication with everyone, the feeling of being part of things and not on the periphery of life, the possibilities for more learning and participating, maybe more work opportunities or travel, the joy of sharing my grandchildren’s lives and hearing their speech. I still have a way to go and more work to do but I already know that amazing things are possible and the future for my husband and I has improved immensely.