A couple of weeks ago we introduced you to Silke, who talked about her hearing loss and making the decision on the VIBRANT SOUNDBRIDGE Middle Ear Implant. Silke is from Germany and received her implant at the end of November 2016 after searching for a hearing loss solution for the past twenty years. In this sequel post Silke shares with us her experiences leading up to the surgery, and her improved hearing since receiving her middle ear implant.
Leading Up to Getting the SOUNDBRIDGE Middle Ear Implant
This time between deciding on the SOUNDBRIDGE and leading up to the surgery was full of ups and downs. Some days were good, but on other days I was full of doubt. I am grateful that my husband was there all the time, cheering me up and discussing my fears. Most important of all, he would tell me that even if something should go wrong and I would be deaf in one ear, he would still be there for me and we would manage this as we manage everything—together!
Oh god, on surgery day I was jumpy as hell. I was excited one moment, and deeply afraid the next. What if the surgery didn’t work? The first tests after the surgery proved that I wasn’t deaf on my left ear, but what if the connection of the implant to the incus had failed? I had so many questions and all I could do was wait until activation.
After the surgery my son was hilarious. One side of my head was shaved, and I decided to get rid of the rest too, leaving only stubble on my head. The first time my son saw me without hair, he started laughing so hard, but not in a bad way, more like “Mum you look gorgeous but funny”. He immediately began to defend me against anyone who even dared to look at me strangely, giving them the “evil eye” treatment whenever we went anywhere.
The First Sounds With My Middle Ear Implant
When I first met my audiologist, I was really glad that he was such a funny and upbeat guy who talked to me a lot. He took most of my nervousness and fears away before he even activated SOUNDBRIDGE. I will never forget those first sounds after activation. It simply left me speechless. I think I even had tears in my eyes—I was so happy.
The moment I really noticed how much better I could hear was when I returned home to our flat which is beside a church. When we first moved into our flat a couple of years ago, I asked my husband if he had noticed this low “wrumm wrumm” sound. I explained to him that it was a sound which I couldn’t place—it was like a vibration at regular intervals during the day. He looked at me a bit strangely and opened a window before saying “Do you mean the church bells?” He was right. The first time I got home after my activation, I was really exhausted and sat down on our couch. That’s when I heard it again. Not a low “wrumm wrumm”, but full on church bells. I went through our whole flat searching for an open window. When I couldn’t find one I realized I was now able to hear the church bells clearly although the windows were closed! I sent my husband a text message with the words “I can hear the bells—and all windows are closed” with a laughing smiley. I knew he would understand what that meant!
Getting Better Every Day
It’s only been a few months since my activation, but I am already able to follow discussions more easily than before, and I am less exhausted at the end of the day. If people talk really softly I still have trouble catching every word but nevertheless I understand them a lot better. I feel less isolated and I can again enjoy things and situations. I only now realize I had begun to dread or even avoid social situations because of my hearing loss, like missing out on dinner with friends. With my improved hearing with the middle ear implant, I am now more confident in attending such events. I can follow every conversation and even talk to more than one person at a time—that is priceless!
I now hear sounds I didn’t even know existed, which is sometimes fun and sometimes confusing! For example one day, I heard something that sounded like we had a kitten in the flat—which we definitely didn’t have. I became confused, until I realized it was just the fridge making strange purring sounds! I can now hear cars a lot louder. Sometimes when I am about to cross a street, I feel the need to double check for cars as it sounds like they are almost next to me when in fact they are still far away. It’s mostly the little noises which leave me baffled until I figure out what exactly they are, while someone with normal hearing might just disregard them! I am still learning to drown out noises I do not want to hear, like the oven fan cooling down after use. I know I still have to learn how to handle all this new input of sound, but it has been great so far and is getting better every day. This week we are visiting America and doing a tour through several national parks. I am so excited to hear all the sounds in the parks, the birds, the wind, everything!
My Advice For Others
Others with hearing loss like mine may be apprehensive about getting a middle ear implant—I felt the same. But with the right support, there is nothing to fear and so much to gain. A world with improved sound is so much richer, and interacting with people becomes so much easier—it is really worth it. Do not let your fear rob you of this experience, of the joy of hearing the little things—even if they can be annoying to begin with. There are so many little things and sounds out there which are beautiful, and it would be a shame to miss any of them!
See Silke’s first post where she shares how she found out about her hearing loss and how she decided on the VIBRANT SOUNDBRIDGE middle ear implant.
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