User Stories

In The Beginning There Was Sound: Guest Post by Morgan Martins

Editor’s note: we’re happy to introduce a new guest author, Morgan Martins, who will share with us her experiences with hearing loss and receiving a MED-EL cochlear implant. Here is her first post:

My ears have always been my Achilles’ heel. My first disease was an ear infection at just 3 months old, and after that ear troubles became a regular companion. My mum would try everything to prevent another infection or the slightest earache, from earplugs while swimming to earmuffs in the winter. I had to comply or be stricken by the powers of Mum Almighty, which in some cases was worse than the earache itself!

Growing up meant to get used to this silent companion named earache. I’ve grown to respect my ears, the best that I knew anyway. I’ve never used cotton buds to clean them, avoided loud music, and even when I was the first woman DJ to perform in Algarve most times I was conscious about avoiding the speakers. (Well, I tried to behave most times, but a teenager will always be a tad inconsequent!)

In August, 2009, I lost hearing in my right ear. But, I didn’t make much of it. Why? First, because I still had a good one so I put my good ear forward and carried on. Secondly, I had moved back from London to Lisbon, in order to support my mum fighting cancer. She was my priority. Between her weekly visits to chemotherapy and exams routine, I had little time and or emotional availability to worry or think about myself. Plus, there was the still good ear.

Becoming deaf in my right ear didn’t upset me, no, it didn’t, what truly upset me was vertigo and balance problems.

It was only in January, 2010, that I was diagnosed with Ménière’s Disease: the fancy name for a trinity of health problems including vertigo, tinnitus, and hearing loss.

Vertigo was the next one to show up, in February, 2006. Initially I didn’t make much of it. Ok, so I was a bit dizzy. I had problems keeping on top of my surfboard, on top of my rollerskates, on top of my bike and motorbike, and ultimately I had this permanent feeling of walking as if I were drunk. So, over the summer of 2006 I visited an ENT doctor and had two MRIs, saw a neurologist, saw yet another ENT Doctor, and had a wide range of exams. I tried hyperbaric treatments and balance rehabilitation exercises but the problem persisted.

Then, the vertigo caused a series of crushing blows and shattered dreams. I had to stop riding my Yamaha Virago 125CC motorbike due to the vertigo, and stopped surfing in August, after three accidents while surfing including a near drowning. I thought to myself “Well, Morgan Margarida, if you want to keep living you better stop this too.” And I stopped. I also stopped cycling, and skateboarding, and for a moment I thought I had stopped living too.

My mum’s needs played a huge part in overcoming all the feelings of sadness. I was essential to her and I needed to be strong and jolly, focus on her needs, and provide her with healthy experiences. So, I put my pain and losses aside. Fortunately, in October, 2009, her cancer was so tiny that she was able to stop her chemotherapy treatments. I then spoke with her and said that although I had put my life on standby for her, now I needed to go back to living my life.

I moved back to London in May, 2010 with my fiancée and we were worked on starting our life together in London. That is, finding the right place and a good job and so on. And, as soon as we were getting our lives in order, on the November 1, 2010, I woke up to a completely silence.

I got out of bed thinking “It’s an awful quiet!” It was only when I flushed the toilet that I noticed something missing: the sound, the sound of the water flushing down the toilet. I spoke loud, spoke those words that you always speak when testing microphones and sounds for the radio and or concerts: “One, two, one, two, Ah, Ah” and…nothing.

I remember feeling sheer panic and pain, running down the stairs with tears in my eyes, a feeling that someone’s hand was holding my heart and throat very tight, so tight I couldn’t breathe. And I run to my fiancée and spoke as I could: I can’t hear a thing. I’m deaf darling. I can’t hear. I stared at her. I looked for a comfort word, a solution, but there was nothing except making our way to the hospital.

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