Connect with Rob

  • Lives in: Dorset
  • Deafness cause: Deteriorating loss
  • System used: Bilateral Nucleus 6

Rob Garnet

I wasn't born deaf, but my hearing started to fade gradually during my mid-twenties. My mother and grandmother were both profoundly deaf and this hereditary condition was the cause of my hearing loss. It was most obvious in noise and on the telephone, so, in my early forties I was fitted with hearing aids, which weren't much help at all. I began to rely on lip reading and took early retirement at 62. I then concentrated on improving my lip reading at classes I had started, but became aware that I was becoming reclusive. Determined to continue in the hearing world, I decided I needed something more.

At my lip reading classes, I met a man who had received a cochlear implant and had nothing but praise for the difference it had made to his life. He suggested I look into it myself.

Some time after applying for my cochlear implant, I was eventually referred for assessment and found the wait and uncertainty regarding my suitability very frustrating. But, in February 1999, I had my strongest ear implanted. The surgery went well and I was so excited at switch on, despite my first sensation of hearing being very disappointing. However, when driving home from the hospital, I realised that I could hear more of my wife's conversation than ever before. Sounds and clarity were getting better by the minute.

In 2001, I was invited to take part in an extended research project to help establish if two implants improved hearing. I was concerned regarding the balance problems after the first surgery, but after a full balance assessment, I decided to give it a go. In July 2003, I had my second implant and apart from additional balance problems and slight tinnitus, all went well.

My first noticeable impression of bilateral hearing was when approaching a pedestrian crossing. I immediately noticed from which side a bus was approaching without even having to look. Since losing my hearing, this was something I never thought I'd be able do again.

I can hear reasonably well with the sound processors and the benefits are numerous, particularly in noise. Yes, I'm still a deaf person; my pronunciation isn't good, but with the help of all the surgical and audiology team at my implant centre and on occasions support from Cochlear Europe, my life has changed. They never tire of my endless questions and perseverance to get the best from my bilateral cochlear implants and I shall never forget the family style of help and understanding they gave me. They have truly given me life after deaf.

Even in my darkest hours, when I found it stressful to lip-read, I kept involved. Since becoming a volunteer, I've been able to help other people do the same. I also continued on the committee of an impaired hearing group and volunteered to persuade Poole hospital to improve deaf awareness. In addition, since my retirement, I help organise weekly Cyclist Touring Club rides and arrange an annual group continental cycling holiday. If people are willing to give me life after deaf, why can't I give it to others?

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