23, Interior Designer
Profoundly Deaf with two cochlear implants
"Its about your other senses. Feeling the water and listening to your own thoughts...
Even with two cochlear implants you still have to put in a lot of effort to understand people. You have to be far more attentive and focused than most people think. It can be exhausting. Sometimes you just need to escape from it all. To be in your own world. Silent and peaceful."
Being the youngest of three spirited girls, mum and dad knew something wasn’t quite right when I wasn’t responding to sound like my sisters did. At birth, I was declared healthy with no problems but mum and dad still felt something wasn’t quite right. Dad decided to get out the pots and pans and bang away behind me to see if I responded to the noises and alas, I didn’t. That was the starting point of my diagnosis. I was then operated on and was officially diagnosed as profoundly deaf.
I used to have two hearing aids but they eventually weren't powerful or strong enough. I was first fitted with my left cochlear implant when I was 13 years old and decided to have my right cochlear implant when I was 20 years old. It was the best decision to get the two cochlears as it enhanced the quality and clarity of the sound I received. I absolutely cannot live without my two devices as I would be completely lost!
To be honest, being deaf is all I’ve ever known so there wasn’t ever that struggle of acceptance between full hearing and being deaf. I did have some moments where I wished I was just like everybody else but with the resources and help available, nothing is ever impossible. I can still go about my day to day life just like everyone else. I’m independent and active and I love to live life to the fullest and enjoy it. Sure there are some moments of ‘what if’ but most of the time, I’m pretty positive and have a ‘can do’ attitude. One of my favourite quotes is ‘It’s not the problems we face that define us. It’s how we choose to handle them’. It’s quite fitting really.
My family, without a doubt are my biggest supporters and cheerleaders in life. When I was first officially diagnosed as ‘profoundly deaf’, Mum and Dad were told I would never be able to speak nor hear. This was not an option to them and was a catalyst in their determination to make sure I succeeded and had the same opportunities as most people do. The Shepherd Centre were a huge help in allowing this to all happen. I consider them a part of my extended family. They’re an absolutely incredible organisation.
School was quite the challenge as I was growing up especially when I only had hearing aids. They didn’t have the power to allow me to cope in a classroom learning environment so I had to put in much more effort than the other kids in order to make sure I was up to date with the schooling and level of work. When I had my cochlear implants, this improved tenfold. It wasn’t perfect like a full hearing child but it was pretty damn good considering the situation.
Otherwise it hasn’t affected me too badly. I’ve finished my studies, I’ve travelled overseas on my own, I live in the city - a 7 hour drive from my country home town and am able to do all the things I set out to do which is an amazing feeling.