Submitted by Barb Hale

My scar has healed, and I arrived at Sunnybrook Hearing Centre for ‘Hook-up’ day, as it’s called, at 1pm on April 30th. In the middle of the day, the traffic was moving, and I arrive on time.

I had been warned many times not to expect to be able to hear right away. That it takes time for the brain to adjust, and for some people it takes as much as 6 weeks to 3 months. This was worrisome, I didn’t want to wait that long!

My audiologist greeted me warmly. A very attractive middle-aged woman with long blond hair, looking much younger than her actual age. She spent time carefully explaining all the details how everything works. I had chosen white to match my hair and was surprised how small the thing was. The processor and a comparatively large rechargeable battery sit behind the ear, similar to a regular hearing aid and this is attached to a disc above the ear, which is then attached with a magnet, to the receiver under the skin.

Now is the crucial moment! She turns it on and says, “How does that feel?” I heard – I actually heard what she said!! Believe it or not, I am one of the lucky ones. No, this does not necessarily mean that I could leave and have normal hearing. I could only hear clearly enunciated words and there is work to be done.

I had another appointment a week later, so the first week I wore the cochlear implant (CI) as much as I could and if I went out, I wore my old hearing aid in my right ear, at the same time.  I learned that if you wear a new hearing aid all the time, those horrible loud noises do slowly diminish! Not only were the noises loud but they were not recognisable. Women’s voices sounded like men’s voices and when mail was delivered to my door, I had no idea what the noise was! I borrowed a book from the library, and with it, the audio copy of the same book, so that I could listen and read at the same time.

The appointment after the first week consisted of giving me tests to check how much I could hear and exercises to be done regularly to improve my hearing – Homework! The second hour was mapping. Altering how much I hear at each tone frequency to make sounds more realistic. This still isn’t quite right and will be altered next appointment, I hope.

So, each day, there is some improvement and on Mothers Day, I was with my daughter and granddaughter with only my CI hearing aid and could hear every word. They swore they were not talking above normal speaking voice!

I am so thankful for this exciting journey, which is making me very happy.