In 1999 using the telephone reached a point of impossibility for me. Work suddenly became much more difficult and stressful. At the same time, if I could not position myself to read lips then conversation was a wasted effort. I was using a wide variety of coping mechanisms to get through each day: like reading body language, listening to voice inflections and watching context very closely. My wife was constantly running interference to help me function. Most of the time it was easier to avoid communication – a situation that is quite depressing.
After resisting for 12 years though, I realized that I had nothing to lose in getting implants, because my hearing was already nonfunctional. By contrast, my world after implantation is a brand new universe of possibilities! Today I am capable of things that I could never do before, both in terms of my career and in how my relationships are defined. The implants have given me a better life than I ever knew when using hearing aids.
As a Cochlear volunteer I get the chance to help someone else and their family avoid choosing to live with additional years of stressful and draining hearing problems. I have been able to assist many people (and their family members) who need to talk to an actual recipient before surgery. These people also need a buddy system of support afterwards. Implants allow a major step in quality of life. I simply cannot hide my experience from others since I am so appreciative of what implants have done for me. Helping others navigate the learning curve is a small contribution to offer in return for such a fabulous gift.