Katie-Louise’s Story

April 29th, 2009 by | Tags: , , | 3 Comments »

Katie-Louise has been an Advanced Bionics cochlear implant user for 10 months and has been enjoying the use of a cochlear implant.  She has a blog, Katie-Louise’s Cochlear Implant Journey, where she writes incredible passages about her hearing with a cochlear implant.  She was generous to share her story about her life growing up with hearing loss and receiving a cochlear implant.  Here’s Katie’s story:

I’m 20 years old, from Derby. I was born profoundly deaf due to Branchio-oto-renal symdrome, which is a genetic from my dad’s side of the family. My dad is also deaf but has BAHA (Bone Anchored Hearing Aids)

I first starting wearing hearing aids in both ears when I were about 18 months old.

I was brought up in a mainstream school with a deaf unit. Right through my school years I have wore both hearing aids along with a radio aids. I was taught to use my voice and to use sign language.

When I was about 7 my left ear went completely; I was left with just one hearing aid and nothing on my left.  At that time it didn’t bothered me. I were too young to understand and I go along ok at school with just wearing one aid.

When I moved to college to Study Sport Science, I then realise I was find things pretty difficult.   I wasn’t able to mix with the hearing peers well and I wasn’t hearing enough, I couldn’t keep up with lip-reading as I were getting so tired quickly and kept missing out on a lot of information. I then spent most of my college years socialising with only deaf peers which has affected my confident with hearing peers.   I wouldn’t use my voice in the end and just used sign language.

In my spare time, I played a lot football right from a young age, and when I moved up to a level to play in a better team. All my friends in football were hearing. The only time I got to play with deaf peers was when I got selected to play for England Deaf ladies and I represented England a number of times and have been to Russia, Germany and Greece so far and have enjoyed playing at an international level.

Playing in a hearing league got harder as I got older and I ended up having a communicator to help to know what we are doing in our football drill, I just wouldn’t go without a support.  I was at a stage where I relied on everyone to with the communication. I got that fed up and I wanted to be more independent like I used.

In my final year at college I had a chat with my teacher of the deaf about how I am feeling and ask if I could have a better hearing aid and something on my left ear as it felt so blank not being able to hearing from that ear.  He then said there nothing else as my hearing aid was the powerful ones they have out now and I didn’t benefit me He then ask If I want to see someone about a cochlear implant.  At the time I knew what it was because some of my friends had them. I weren’t over keen on them as I didn’t like the idea of having an operation.

I got referred to Nottingham Cochlear Implant programme in 2007. I had to go through the assessment which involved with lots of appointments and lots of tests. While going through the assessment I met a lot of people about the cochlear implant and how it has helped them.   I wasn’t too keen about having the operation, but April 28th was the day I went ahead with the operation to get an Advanced Bionic device. I chose that one because I like the style and I loved the colours.

On the operation day it was nerve wrecking moment and I was so brave enough to go for it, I made sure I had the gas to put me to sleep as I didn’t want to have a needle.

After the operation the scar was so small and I was so amazed that they didn’t shave off any of my hair off. I recovered from the operation quite quickly.  My balance weren’t affected and I wasn’t too sore.  I waited 4 weeks for my switch on date.

Those 4 weeks was like the longest week of my life.  I was up so early every morning waiting for a post for my switch on date.  2 weeks later after my operation the post finally arrived.  The date was given was 19th May ‘08

May 19th has finally arrived. I didn’t sleep to well the night before. I was too busy thinking about what will I hear?  Will it work? Will I hear my mum voice?  Or will it sound horrible? I keep getting all these idea.  On the bus with my mum the Cochlear Implant centre the big switch on.  It took about 40 minutes to get to Nottingham from where I live. As I arrived, my audiologist came out to the waiting room and called me in.

I was so nerves, I was worried about how would the magnet would feel when it’s on my head.  She popped it on and I didn’t feel a thing.  “Right then, I’m going to tune you in” the audiologist said making sure I was looking at her making sure I understood what she was going to do. It took about 20 minutes to turn on all the electrodes one by one until she finally switched me on.   Finally the audiologist switched me on.  I didn’t really hear anything, but I could tell my audiologist and my mum was talking to me because when they spoke it was all bleeping to every word they said.

I went home that day and everything was so noisy and it didn’t make sense I heard bleeping sounds all the time. They did say it will only get better the more you wear it and the more you practise.  A week later I was still experiences the bleeping sounds and I got quite fed up and I ended up taking it off for a bit. Until then I went back for another mapping, sounds have changed again. I was hearing the high pitch sounds which some sounds started to make sense. It did take a while to get to know what the sound was. I had to ask everyone near me what that noise is! I was even relying on my communicator to help me what the sound was while I were at college.  I had a lot of support from my family, speech therapy and The Ear Foundation.

A few months after being switched on with all the support I had, I was able to understand sounds a lot more which I had loads of C.I moment hearing birds, music  which I have never heard before.  I was able to hear people voices and I was able to hear my own speech which my confident  got better and I were starting to mix a bit more with the hearing peers and started to use my voice more instead of sign language.

7 Months after switch on I moved to University of Derby  after completing my Btec National Diploma in sports science and now I am studying Sport Science along with a PGCE  which I am hoping to get a degree in so I could teach young deaf/hearing children in P, E (Physical Education)

I have become more independent, mixing a lot with hearing peers at university well – that has also helped a lot with football team-mates too.  I even once got up on a microphone at the Ear Foundation doing a Xmas quiz. That was something I wouldn’t see myself doing.

Without my cochlear implant I don’t think I would see myself this far and I am so glad I went ahead with it and I now wouldn’t like to be without it.

My advice to new cochlear implant users is to not to expect too much on your switch on and be patience; it will only get better. The more you practise the better you’ll get.


May 27, 2009 at 3:30 pm

[...] Cochlear Implant Online When I was about 7 my left ear went completely; I was left with just one hearing aid and nothing on my left. At that time it didn’t bothered me. I were too young to understand and I go along ok at school with just wearing one aid. [...]

March 23, 2010 at 4:55 pm

I’m fixing to have a cocohlear implant in April……how much hair do they cut off?
How do they put you asleep?