Four weeks after the operation, the day of my “switch on” is almost here. This week, I’ll travel once again to the Emmeline centre at Addenbroke’s in Cambridge, to receive a processor for my new implant, and then begin the process of getting it switched on and configured.
I’m desperately excited, but also nervous – in near equal parts. Over the past few months, I’ve tried to keep my expectations low. But it’s difficult not to imagine a life with more hearing than I have now. Will it work for me? Will I be disappointed? Will the sounds I hear just be loud muffles, rather than the quiet ones I hear now? Volume is nothing, clarity is everything. And what about everyone else? My friends and family have been so supportive, I don’t want to let them down.
It will be a shock at first. The auditory nerve on the right side of my head, which carries the electrical signals from the implant, won’t know what’s hit it. From carrying nothing more than a slowly decreasing, drought-laden trickle over the last 34 years, to a gushing deluge in an instant.
Of course, my brain won’t recognise most of the signals immediately after the switch on. I’ve been told I’ll hear robotic beeps and whistles to start with – whatever they really sound like. It will take time for my brain to piece together the new sensations with the sounds that are causing them. How quickly this happens, if at all, will depend upon how quickly my brain can adapt. They say it’s usually as good as it will ever be after a year.
Whatever happens over the coming days, weeks and months, I know that commitment and dedication from me, and patience and support from friends and family will play a huge role. And from that point of view, I know I’m in the best possible place to make the most of this opportunity.
[UPDATE: Since I wrote this, the switch-on happened, and went smoothly. I’ll write a brief summary of the day shortly and upload some photos, but need to gather my thoughts first. Before then, and over the coming days, I’m going to list all the sounds I’m hearing for the first time. And below is an X-ray of my head, following the operation to insert my implant. You can see the implant fixed to my skull, and the 12 individual electrodes on the curled wire which sits inside my cochlea.]
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.
The Limping Chicken is the world's most popular Deaf blog, and is edited by Deaf journalist and filmmaker Charlie Swinbourne.
The site exists thanks to our supporters. Check them out below:
- Signature: Leading awarding body for BSL qualifications
- Ai-Media: Remote captioning. Find out the benefits of live captioning at university!
- Bellman & Symfon: home alerting solutions
- Deaf Umbrella: sign language interpreting and communications support
- BSL Zone: TV programmes in BSL for the Deaf community
- Stellar Communications: Speech-to-Text services
- Appa: Communication services for Deaf, Deafblind and hard of hearing people
- SignLive: Online video interpreting for Deaf people
- SignVideo: Instant BSL video interpreting online
- 121 Captions: captioning and speech-to-text services
- Eyewitness Media: TV and film from a Deaf perspective
- The National Theatre: Captioned and BSL accessible theatre in London
- Doncaster School for the Deaf: education for Deaf children
- Signworld: Learn BSL online!
- Helen Foulkes Translations: BSL translations
- RAD Tax Advice: Tax and Tax Credit info for Deaf people
- Performance Interpreting: BSL interpreting at concerts
- National Deaf Children's Society: The leading charity for deaf children
- Signed Culture: Advocating for BSL access to arts and culture
- SignHealth: healthcare charity for Deaf people
- CJ Interpreting: communication support in BSL
- British Society for Mental Health and Deafness: Promoting positive mental health for deaf people
- Action Deafness Communications: sign language and Red Dot online video interpreting
- BSLcourses.co.uk: Provider of online BSL courses
- Association of Notetaking Professionals: The professional body representing Electronic and Manual Notetakers
- Sign Solutions: communication support, training and translation
- InterpretersLive: On demand BSL video interpretation
- Hamilton Lodge School in Brighton: education for Deaf children
- Lipspeaker UK: specialist lipspeaking support
- Hearing Choices: Australian hearing aid specialists
- Elmfield School, Bristol: Inclusive education for Deaf pupils
- deafPLUS: BSL advice helpline
- Exeter Deaf Academy: education for Deaf children
- Royal Shakespeare Company: Captioned and BSL interpreted performances (see dates here)
- Royal School for the Deaf, Derby: Residential education for deaf children