Connect with Charlotte
- Lives in: Hampshire
- Deafness cause: Profound hearing loss at birth
- System used: Nucleus 6
I was born profoundly deaf and the reason for my deafness still remains unknown. My family and I learnt to sign when I was two years old and I learnt to speak at about five.
For most of my adult life, I relied on lip reading and found myself tired at the end of each day. At work, because I interact with different kinds of people, it was tough to get used to everyone's lip reading pattern. I would always come home exhausted and I hated wearing my hearing aids. Although they were loud enough, everything sounded very distorted, I couldn't turn them up enough to get the clarity I wanted. By the end of the day, I was relieved to take them out.
After meeting a lady who was going through a cochlear implant assessment, I was encouraged to seek a referral from my Ear, Nose and Throat specialist and just a few days short of my 30th birthday, I got the thumbs up for a referral! I kept the news to myself, as I was scared of being turned down at the last minute. I never expected that my assessment for an implant would be so short and quick, and 9 months later I received funding for an implant.
I was implanted with a Nucleus Freedom System in July 2008. It was incredibly quick and straightforward. In recovery, I felt like I had drank too much wine, but there was no nausea (I only wish it was like this when I've had one too many!). It didn't take me long to get back on my feet and I was home the next morning.
After a long, anxious five weeks, I was finally switched on. It was unbelievable. I had to learn sounds I'd never heard before. Sounds that most people barely notice! Water running, taps dripping, microwave pings, timers and kettle boiling clicks. They were very loud at first, but the sharpness eased off as my brain got used to the sounds. Paper rustling still makes me cringe, though!
I find lip-reading easier, and I'm not so tired in the evenings. Choosing to have a cochlear implant was the greatest decision of my life. It has opened up new doors and broadened my horizons. I have made new friends and my life has just begun to take off.
The best times are when I hear my cat meow or the tags of my dog's collar. I love hearing the birds sing and being able to recognise the different tweets! Buying an ipod was also a big thing for me, as I had never heard music properly. I now love to listen to music, especially ones with solo artists and single instruments like Elton John and his piano!
As well as support from family and friends, I think it's vital for implant recipients to receive help and advice from people who've been in the same situation. This is why I decided to become an Advocate; to offer help when and where it's needed. Whether it's reassurance about surgery or stories of my personal achievements, I aim to support.
I am now training as an LSA (Learning Support Assistant) and have started to help out at schools with deaf children for precisely the same reasons. I love it.
I wanted to become an advocate to help other people in similar positions and help them through their journey. Be their support if they need it. I think this support is an essential part of any hearing journey.