My first assessment at Addenbrooke’s was almost three weeks ago, but it seemed less than that, as we sat in the visitor room waiting for my results. After five minutes, one of the team came up to where Dan and I were sitting. This is it, I thought. “We’ve got a bit of a delay, the consultant has been called away to an emergency” she said.
After another half an hour, a familiar-looking nurse strode up and enquired “Catherine Cooper? Come this way, please”. At last, this really was it. She led us to her room, and then went back out again to get my notes.
We sat alone in the room, and Dan scrambled about to get his camera to take a shot, supposedly for posterity, but more likely for this blog, before she returned. As I sat there, I said to him, “I don’t think I’m getting it”. Surely if they were going to offer one to me, they’d have made me wait for the consultant? My heart sank.
The nurse came back, sat down, opened her file, and abruptly said “Yes, the team met this morning and would like to offer you an implant”. Silence. “Pardon?” I said, questioning what my eyes had just read from her lips. “They would like to offer you an implant” she repeated, giving a thumbs up this time.
Dan laughed, and jumped up to give me a hug. I was stunned. I didn’t quite know how to react. I was expecting the worst, and hadn’t prepared for this. Part of me thought “Wow, this is unbelievable.” But at the same time, I felt a bit disappointed. Why hadn’t I researched this years ago? Had I struggled for nothing? Why wasn’t I offered this before?
The nurse and Dan sat staring at me, waiting for a reaction. “Great” I garbled, still in shock. The nurse said I could go away and think about it, or decide now and fill in some forms. I nodded gently, understating a decision that might turn out to be the most significant one in my life.
We filled out the forms together, and I signed a disclaimer. I was then handed a letter for my doctor, requesting a pneumococcal vaccination, to reduce the risk of meningitis after the operation. Just the usual sort of thing. And then a further appointment was arranged for next week, to talk more about the operation and my expectations. “Keep them low”, I keep telling myself.
As Dan drove us home from Cambridge, my head cleared and excitement set in. I started to text my family and friends with the news, and received a steady trickle of congratulations and encouragement. I looked out of the window and gazed at the passing scenery, knowing this journey would become very familiar in the years ahead.
This article was first published on Catherine’s own blog, which you can find here: http://sounds-different.blogspot.co.uk/
Catherine lives in Norfolk and has a young family. Born profoundly deaf in 1978, she leads a busy life using a combination of hearing aids, lip reading and sign language. Following a deterioration in hearing in recent years, she is now in the early stages of getting a Cochlear Implant, and currently awaits feedback on her suitability. This is her story, told as it happens.
The Limping Chicken is supported by Deaf media company Remark!, provider of sign language services Deaf Umbrella, training and consultancy Deafworks, the National Deaf Children’s Society’s Look, Smile Chat campaign, and the National Theatre’s captioned plays.