I am delighted to shout out to you all my joy and happiness which began in December 2008 when my Harmony processor from Advanced Bionics was switched on in my left ear and blew colour into my world. I knew immediately after walking out of the audiologist booth, as wonky as I felt, on my “switch on” day, that my world was never going to be the same again.

It’s not so much that I can say thank you only to the fabulous staff at John Radcliffe Hospital, Oxford, United Kingdom who made it all happen. Wow! They were fantastic! But it is also to all those people who have made it their concern to be involved with what I can only say is a truly optimistic worthwhile concern. – Giving people back their lives.

My new life has just started, and I don’t mean only in hearing but in all aspects of my life that is now mine for the taking because I feel confident to understand the world around me with my cochlear implant. I realise now that I can embrace more things without fear of accepting half measures. Those dull, dull days are over. It’s not only my sense of self worth that has changed but also the world and the people in it who surround me each day, – and a joy to discover just how friendly people really are. I could fill eternity with all those frustrations, unfriendly unhelpful moments all because I simply just did not hear.

I now have expectations to my days. I have a new vitality to soak up everything I have wanted so long to experience. There has not been one day when I have looked back since my implant and wished otherwise. Every week something new presents itself and these gifts are utterly immeasurable. I appreciate the smallest thing from hearing someone calling my name, Mi-CH-ele (the CH is a fabulous sound) to hearing the birds singing. But the best feeling of all is feeling positive about being involved in conversations without standing in a corner and being a spectator with my false smiles and false understandings. I have recently tackled the telephone…. What absolute fun!! Never thought I’d see the day I’d be picking up the telephone…!

How did I survive 44 years of blanketed sounds? How did I smile at all? I know I was fortunate in that I was one of the “lucky ones in that I had good speech and could lip-read and understand most people fairly well, but was the loneliness that was so awful as I could never fully integrate in the hearing world and neither wholly with the deaf world and so belonged neither here or there and that was the hurting thing. I was sat on a fence, looking from the outside in with my plastic smile and false laughs which just made me feel a fraud and I would get so mad with myself for going through with it every single day. It was just a lot easier to let things slide whilst knowing in my raging moments that I could never be true to myself. My cochlear implant has changed all that. 2.

I now throw myself in heady abandon into conversations happening around me, I practise listening to people without looking directly at them…working out their voices. Is it a male or female? Are they old or young? I don’t as yet hear all what they say but I’ll make sure I get there one day! The radio which I have never had cause to listen to before has opened my horizons. I am hearing debate – not part of conversations that people want me to hear. I’m hearing news – not shortened versions people hurry to give to me. I am hearing real things – not cast offs from other people and their take on the matter. I feel like I’m me and a part of this world. They’re my feelings that feel ‘first hand’ – I can hear the birds singing, I can hear people laughing – not someone else telling me the unseen (unheard) things happening everyday and social activities have become such a blast! Whew!

Realistically I said pre-implantation that if I got 10% more hearing than what I currently had then, I would have been more than happy. (Any little bit more to help me cope!!) BUT now that my implant has been successful, I have got far more than I possibly thought I would, I am beside myself with delight. I am a cautious person by nature and throughout the testing for candidate for CI implantation I always held back and never allowed myself to expect too much.

KABOOM my world has exploded!! In colour!!! I am so PRO cochlear implants. If there is any way that I can help anyone please let me know.

Michele June 2009