Hi, I’m Shannon, I’m 23 and I have had Bilateral Cochlear Implants for three years now.
Life before cochlear implants
My story starts when I was four years old. I was told that I had mild sensorineural hearing loss and was given my first pair of hearing aids. Things were difficult in junior school. I didn’t fit in anywhere. I couldn’t access the deaf unit because I ‘wasn’t deaf enough’ and I didn’t fit in with my hearing peers, because I was deaf. By age 11, I was diagnosed with Usher Syndrome and was registered blind, by this point, my hearing loss was moderate/severe.
Secondary school wasn’t much different. I found that I still didn’t really fit in anywhere. It was a really tough time for me. As I got older, my situation started to have a massive impact on my mental health, I isolated myself and chose not to interact with people. By age 20, I had no useful sight and my hearing loss was severe/profound. The severity of my sight loss meant that I wasn’t able to lip read and I was really struggling to hear – my hearing aids just weren’t able to do enough for me. I stopped enjoying life.
Life after implantation
Accepting the offer of Bilateral Cochlear Implants was, hands down, the best thing I’ve done. But it’s not been an easy process. I’ve had to learn how to listen, again. Both my mum and I have had to work extremely hard to make sure I was getting the most out of my processors. It’s now been three years since my activation. I’ve discovered a new world of sound, finished my college courses and have even got a part time job at Deafblind UK – all things that I wouldn’t have been able to achieve without my Cochlear Implants!
Being able to hear my family, have conversations at the dinner table and listen to the birds sing is amazing – I don’t think I’ll ever tire of it. Despite my success, I am not ‘cured’ and I’m still deafblind. Of course, I still face challenges but I’m able to overcome them much more easily than I could have done pre-implantation!