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Katherine’s Story

March 31st, 2012 by | Tags: , | 7 Comments »

Katherine was born with normal hearing but gradually lost hearing as she grew up.  She grew up in a Deaf culture.  She recently received a cochlear implant four months ago and while she is still learning to hear with her cochlear implants, she is enjoying being able to hear well again!

I was born hearing, in a Deaf family, where I grew up with deaf culture, community and sign-language. Our world, especially mine, changed, when we found out I was deaf after I started school.  I was then fitted with two (awesome and see-through yellow) hearing aids, and was provided support and an ITOD (interiant teacher of the deaf) straight away in mainstream school.  The doctor said that because I had progressive hearing loss, I would lose my hearing gradually as I grew up, and would be severe-profoundly deaf in my teens.  He was right. I went from having a mild hearing loss to severe in ten years. I did fine with hearing aids, but because my hearing was going slowly, I would hear good one day then suddenly I struggle to hear things I would usually hear before. That was incredibly hard, especially when starting intermediate (middle) school and then high school, but I had a signed support, so I didn’t have to struggle so hard. It still had an impact, though, and I was still not accepting being deaf. Long story short, hearing aids did not do enough for me in the end.  I was enjoying music less and less, and avoiding hearing people because I was afraid of misunderstanding them or they might not understand me.  I also found that picking up different sounds was hard. I missed hearing little things, like the birds, noises from the kitchen etc. I started thinking about having the cochlear implant, after observing how well it worked for others.  Of course, I kept my mouth shut.  I was being fed with lies and misconceptions about cochlear implants while growing up.  I was against it, and knew very well what the reactions would be like if I told anyone, especially my mother. After I decided to get a CI, it took longer than necessary to have one, with my mother being stubborn. She ripped up papers, and hid the consent form in the cupboard.  However, she relaxed more and more after various appointments, as the experts explained the facts, what the CI does and how the surgery works.  She finally accepted that it was my decision in the end, and she knew I was not fully a Deaf person, and that I missed hearing “normally”.  It has been almost four months since I got switched-on, and I’m so happy!  I can understand speech way much better, can pick up the little sounds and could finally enjoy music again.  I’m not fully satisfied yet, but I know I still got a long way to go, after being deaf for over ten years, and that things will improve over time. I just gotta have patience, and practice, practice, practice! :)

7 Comments

Candy

March 31, 2012 at 4:24 pm

I have a question, I hope you can answer. You said you’re not fully satisfied, can you specifically explain why in detail?

I know that not everyone in deaf culture are against CI and yes, misconception is quite high in that culture too. I have had my brother telling me things that were shared by other deaf people which wasn’t even true.

It is people like you that keep raising awareness of what CI is and clarify myths within the deaf cultured community.

Alessandra

March 31, 2012 at 5:01 pm

This story is very inspiring, I’m in the same boat as you, although I don’t have a cochlear implant yet, I will have it soon. My entire family is hearing and the only person that I know of who doesn’t accept my hearing loss is mostly my dad, oh well, he will accept it sooner or later. :)

Candy: What she means by “Not fully satisfied” is the fact that she has to relearn how to hear all over again, cochlear implant hearing is not the same as natural hearing, plus once she gets to her sweet spot with them she’ll feel satisfied with it.

Karen Mayes

March 31, 2012 at 5:14 pm

Hey, reading your story was nice… because what you went through is very similar to what my son went through. Now 3 years with CI, he still loves it and loves music (sometimes it drives me crazy, especially with music at full blast.) He was 12 years old when he got it… born normal hearing, slow progressive hearing loss to the point that the strong hearing aid no longer worked, etc. Anyway, enjoy! :D

Candy

March 31, 2012 at 6:46 pm

Alessandra..

I am aware of that. I wanted to know exactly what it is that she’s not satisfied with if anything beyond the hearing not being the same. I’m considering it too, but most likely will try digital hearing aid first. As it is, I tend to ask lots of questions and expect things responded in detail. ;) I’m hard of hearing and my right ear is really bad and if I lose more of hearing in that ear, I think most likely I will go for CI.

Alessandra

March 31, 2012 at 6:53 pm

Candy,

I have a digital hearing aid and I liked it at first when my hearing was still stable but it’s not much of help when your hearing declines more since digital hearing aids tend to make the sound softer depending on what environment you’re in, sometimes it doesn’t change and then it gets to the point where voices aren’t understandable anymore, I have switched back to my analog hearing aid til I can get my operation since the voices don’t sound as bad, they’re still bad but just not to the point where I’m easily annoyed. I have hit rock bottom I only hear 3% with my hearing aid on (analog or digital, doesn’t matter I hear the same) that I’m a candidate for a cochlear implant. My left ear in the past has been the only remaining ear for an implant since it has never heard and since I didn’t get implanted then, I’m going to go ahead and get both ears done when my surgery comes. I’m excited because I need my sounds back. :)

Katherine

April 1, 2012 at 1:20 am

Hi Candy,
I’ll explain further. I’m not fully satisfied because while I can understand speech better now, I’m still not able to carry a conversation with a hearing person, especially strangers. I do fine in my CI clinic but I almost never understand strangers when they come up and talk to me. I would love to understand what people say to me, at least understand most of what they said. I wanted to communicate better and easier with people. I hope someday, this will be achieved. Not much I could do about it except practice! :)
Yes, I was told the most ridiculous rumours and misconceptions about CIs but its great the deaf community are (slowly) becoming more accepting of cochlear implants. I was very surprised when I told some Deaf people that I was getting a CI, I fully expected abuse (because some of them are quite extreme) and more misconceptions but they were quite accepting. Even some of them asked how it was going for me! I was so relieved! And yes, I try to clarify the myths to those who listen to me, and say that we’re still deaf anyway, when we take off our hearing aids and cochlear implants.

Thank you, everyone else, for your comments :)

April 10, 2012 at 5:07 pm

[...] Statistically in the US, over half of all children with hearing issues now have a cochlear implant, with one in four deaf adults also taking the same route. One inspiring story is the child of deaf adults, who chose to have an implant. [...]