When Jessica and Stefan decided to get married, they assumed it would be a small event. Jessica’s hearing loss made it difficult to socialize in large groups, and she didn’t want to spend her big day struggling to hear what everyone was saying.
But that all changed when she received a cochlear implant. In today’s blog post, Jessica tells us how her CI enabled her to have the wedding she had always dreamed of.
We found out I was profoundly deaf in my left ear when I was 7 years old. I managed well throughout my school years and being deaf in one ear never stopped me from doing or achieving the things that I wanted. In 2003 I went to university. In the same year I started to notice that I was suffering with tinnitus which was making me struggle to hear. My audiologist suggested a hearing aid for the days when I felt I need help with extra volume. They issued me with a very discreet in-the-ear hearing aid, I was happy with this as I had control over the volume, and nobody could see it! I continued to use a hearing aid as and when I felt I needed it.
Losing My Hearing
In 2013 I met Stefan. We got engaged two years later and decided to try for a family. In late spring 2016 we found out I was pregnant. During this time my hearing was at the best it had ever been—I noticed I never needed to use my hearing aid, I was not struggling with hearing any sounds and my tinnitus was non-existent. But then in August I had a miscarriage, it was the most painful experience both physically and mentally. We were both distraught.
Shortly after this, I noticed that I needed to use my hearing aid almost constantly. I was working in a primary school at the time and I was beginning to lose the ability to hear children, music, birds, traffic, every day sounds and really struggling in one-to-one and group conversations.
By December my hearing had deteriorated from moderate to profound deafness. I was just about coping in everyday life, but it was a real struggle. I began to isolate myself, withdrawing from the people around me, and I watched people withdrawing from me too as they felt it was too difficult to have a conversation with me.
The only person that continued to be the same with me and knew what I was going through was Stefan. I had taught him the British Sign Language (BSL) alphabet and a few everyday signs so he could include me in conversations, and we found our own ways of communicating.
Getting A Cochlear Implant
My doctor referred me to a different audiology department. When they saw me just before Christmas 2016, they were amazed with how little I could hear and referred me to the Richard Ramsden Centre for Hearing Implants in Manchester. In February I was offered a cochlear implant. I had nothing to lose so went ahead. On 13th September 2017 I had my operation – it went well!
Between the surgery and activation, I made myself go out on my own for walks and to the shops. I had to get used to a world of silence just in case the implant didn’t work.
Finally, on October 16th, I went for my switch on, and it was a massive success! I heard voices straight away, I could distinguish between males and females although they sounded like The Chipmunks at first. On the way home I was able to call my mum and could even hear music again, it was just magical! I finally felt like I could get my life back again, and I instantly began to feel like my old self.
Our Dream Wedding
Before the switch on Stefan and I had decided that we were going to get married abroad, just the two of us. We had decided this because being around people had become too difficult for me. Shortly after the switch on, we began talking weddings and decided we wanted to celebrate and have a wedding surrounded by all the people that we loved and had helped us through our experience.
On 23rd August 2019 we got married at Statham Lodge in Lymm, Warrington. Before the date it had rained every single day. On the day of our wedding we had the most beautiful sunshine and we were able to have the ceremony we had hoped for outside. I remember feeling so proud and overwhelmed when I heard my entrance song and saw all the people I loved sitting waiting.
What made the wedding even more beautiful and special was being 20 weeks pregnant with our very special rainbow baby.
I asked my uncle to give me away. He really struggled when I went deaf, as he used to call me on the phone all the time and that wasn’t possible anymore. He was completely amazed when we were able to have our telephone conversations again. As we approached Stefan on the day, he said ‘My favorite niece!’ I broke out in laughter.
Throughout the ceremony I was beaming with pride that I could hear everything, including the readings, music and most of all the vows that I had to read, and hearing Stefan say his clearly too. This wouldn’t have been possible if I hadn’t had the implant.
The whole day was absolutely magical, like a fairy tale. I was so happy to be hearing everything and marrying my best friend. It was everything we could have wished for and more. We kept the wedding very personal. Because of what we went through we decided not to have wedding favors. Instead, we put a Hearing Dogs for the Deaf teddy on the table and asked people to donate. We managed to raise £150 for a charity which is very close to my heart.
On the morning of the wedding I made sure to get a picture of my SONNET audio processor dangling on my wedding dress as I knew that without that amazing piece of equipment, the wedding I had always dreamed of wouldn’t be happening.
That picture is very special to me as it signifies everything we had been through to get to that point.
Becoming A Mummy
Now my next step is becoming a mummy with my CI. Our little rainbow is due early in 2020. We are currently on the hunt for a decent monitor which will alert me at night-time. I am so excited about this next chapter and I can’t wait to hear all the little sounds our baby will make.
I am so appreciative of our NHS, the surgical team, MED-EL, Deborah, and the team at the implant center for giving me back my hearing and life.
My advice to anyone thinking of getting an implant is that you must keep your expectations low and be prepared to put in the hard work during the rehabilitation period. I was very lucky with my switch on, but no two cases are the same, we are all different.
In terms of your wedding, live your dream! Do what makes you both happy and just enjoy the magic. When we went on our honeymoon, we took our outfits with us to relive the day in beautiful Italy and have a photoshoot. I can definitely recommend doing this!