Lipreading Mom’s Note: This is a continuing series about depression among women. Today’s story comes from my friend, Kathy, who lives with a profound hearing loss and found help through, among many things, wearing cochlear implants.
I had gradual hearing loss for about 25 years. I just dealt with it by getting stronger hearing aids and trying to read lips to help compensate.
In April 2004, I lost what I had left in my right (good ear) in a matter of days. At first I just thought it was allergies like other years and thought it would be ok in a few days. 3 days later I was deaf in my right ear, and had about 13 percent hearing left in my bad ear. I had already asked my Ears, Nose, and Throat specialist (ENT) if I was a candidate for cochlear implants (CI) a few years before and he said no. I had a hard time dealing with the sudden loss after having gradual loss for so long. I went to my primary dr, bawling my eyes out and she gave me anti depressants, saying “everyone needs a little help now and then, and this is something major you are trying to deal with”. I just resorted to the fact that I would barely hear, would have to lip read, and I took an ASL class along with my husband Stan, my mom and my 2 sisters. I hibernated and didn’t want to go anywhere by myself for fear of not hearing something or someone. I kept in touch by emails and texting. Talking on the phone was out of the question as my comprehension in my left ear was horrible.
In 2005, I found the Hearing Loss Associaton of America (HLAA). God bless this organization! I was in the chat one night and an “angel” as I call her, told me not to depend on an ENT or an audiologist to tell me I was a candidate for a CI or not. She said go to a CI surgeon only for that. The next day, I made an appointment with Dr. Chole, at Washington University to see if I was a candidate. I had seen him a few years before that to see if I was a candidate for a BAHA. At my appointment with him, he told me most definitely I was a candidate for a CI. I was so excited and happy! I cried all the way to my husbands work to tell him, then on to my mom’s house to tell her, and to Walmart where one sister worked and another was shopping to tell them in person. I cried and said prayers of thanks all day that day! That was in September of 2005 and I was implanted the following May. HLAA and Dr. Chole gave me my life back!
I thought I was doing so well that I didn’t need the anti-depressants any more. I was wrong! While I was thrilled with my CI, and my 2nd CI in 2007, I found out a lot about myself while I was learning about HLAA. I learned SO much from HLAA and its members and HLA GSL that I am forever grateful to them, but also realized that I still had a hard time dealing with some aspects of my hearing loss so I am still on anti depressants today.
After I lost my hearing so quickly in 2004, I really thought my life was going to be me being a hermit and never being able to talk to people on the phone again. I had gone 18 months not talking on the phone before I could with my CI. During routine pre-op testing for my first CI, a spot was found on my lung. After further testing, I found out I had cancer. Yes, I was a smoker. By the grace of God, and a good doctor doing pre-op testing, I had surgery and have been cancer free for almost 5.5 years.
Before I got my 2nd CI, Stan and I had a big ole party! Between being cancer free and hearing with my Cochlear Implant, we had so much to be thankful for, so that was the theme of the party, praising God for being cancer free and for being able to hear. Before my lung surgery, I had something happen to me that I will never forget and I know it was God or even an angel sent by God. I was sleeping one night, on my left side. I felt a hand on my hip, turned my head over thinking it was Stan coming to bed. Stan was not there. I turned my head back over and went right back to sleep, STILL feeling the hand. Then I heard “EVERYTHING IS GOING TO BE JUST FINE”. It was the calmest, most serene voice I had ever heard. While I have always been a person with a lot of faith, that experience, made my faith become 1000 times stronger. I know God was right there with me the whole time of surgery and being in the hospital. I felt like He had his arms wrapped around me the whole time. Some people believe me, and some don’t,but nothing and no one will ever convince me that it wasn’t God sending me a message.
Life is so much better with my two cochlear implants and while I am thrilled with them, the CIs are not perfection and I know I still have challenges and frustrations to deal with. So I just learn all I can, advocate for myself with what I need to communicate, do everything I can for HLA-GSL, have enjoyed and learned so much at HLAA Conventnions, and try to pay it forward.
So that is pretty much it. While I love my CIs, I think the most amazing part is finding the cancer well before it would’ve killed me and getting the message from God!
If you would like to share your story with Lipreading Mom, like Kathy did, leave your comment here.