For twenty three years my left ear had been dead, killed in my eighteen metre fall. On Monday it was resurrected back to life through a Cochlear Implant. Sound came exploding back with a vigour and at times unpleasant force.
Mum, Liz and I trooped into Jenny’s office. Once I had sat down, she pulled a black suitcase towards me.
“This is yours,” she said opening it. It was choc-a-bloc full of small boxes that varied in size. Each of the boxes held some accoutrement to go with my Cochlear Implant. Once we had gone through the suitcase with Jenny ticking items off she pushed it to one side.
“Right, let’s get you hearing again,”she said with a gleam in her eye.
“How do you know the operation worked? Everyone is presuming I’ll hear again. The operation might have been a flop!”
“Not according to your response during the operation. Hook this behind your ear.” She passed me a small hook that was attached to a long wire connected to her computer. “Now take your other hearing appliance off.” I did so. “Okay, let’s go and look for that hearing!”
Jenny told me to tell her whenever I heard a sound. She pressed three keys and we were off.
“Listen” is the wrong word for what I then proceeded to do. I would close my eyes and it felt as if I would dig deep into the various passage ways of my brain as I searched for those sounds.
“Yes, Jen, there were three sounds there but I didn’t “hear” them, I “felt” them.”
Jenny apparently said out loud to Mum and Liz, “She heard them!”
A few moments later…”Yes, I felt three sounds again. But these three sounds were at a very high pitch and I didn’t hear…”
“…them you felt them,” Jenny finished for me.
And we continued like this for the next hour? Then Jen said: “Right, I’m going now to press a switch and let’s see what you hear.” I would love to say that the switch was pressed and the world and all it’s wonderful sounds came tumbling into my life. But it didn’t work like that. I waited in breathless anticipation and then my first sound arrived – television snow! LOUDLY! It was horrific. I said so to Jen and she twiddled a few keys and then my snow turned into a hive of angry bees.
“What are you hearing?”
“Bees. Thousands of bees.” Jen didn’t look perturbed. “Angry bees, Jenny!” A few more keys were pressed and their anger diminished but they still buzzed about.
“Can you hear me?” I saw her saying. And that was when I lost it completely. I burst into a flood of helpless tears. If this was what what living with sound in my left ear was going to be like than no, thankyou! I had never been mad about bees. Liz shoved a tissue into my hand and I sobbed into it. But the bees seemed to be getting less. I blew my nose and wiped my cheeks and the bees seemed to stop. I cocked my head, waiting for them to re-appear but no bee came near me.
“Oh, they’ve gone now.”
“I’m glad,” I saw Jenny saying. Hold on, I wasn’t only seeing her say it. I was hearing her say it. It was as if she was playing the game we used to play as children with a hosepipe. One person would speak down the hosepipe and the other around the corner would lift the hosepipe to her ear and hear the message and duly reply. Jenny was hosepipe speaking! I told her this. More fiddling on the computer and it was better. I put on my right CI appliance and hell, that felt good hearing from both sides at the same time. It felt marvellous! Jenny chatted to the three of us and I…could…hear…them! Initially I had to see their lips when they spoke but as time passed so this wonderful left ear of mine began to stretch its muscles and truly wake up. I was listening to them speak with both ears! I was listening to them speak with my resurrected left ear and it felt pretty good. Then Jenny said: “I am just going to switch off your left ear because I need to make some adjustments. Your right one will be on though.” And she switched it off. The silence on my left was startling. It was actually horrific! Is this how I’ve been living for the past twenty three years? I felt lopsided.
I felt incomplete.
That was the most startling discovery I made that Monday. The fact that with my left ear working I feel – whole. I feel complete!
I look forward to Thursday where Jenny will work more miracles on her wonderful computer and cause this left ear to hear more…..and more…..and more!
I am so incredibly blessed!
And thankful. My gratitude to the people that thought and prayed for me knows no bounds. But – don’t sit back and think: Oh, great, prayers and positive thoughts are over. No, I still need a whole lot more.
I will tell you when to stop!!!