Have you heard about our latest cochlear implant audio processor, RONDO 2? It’s the only audio processor available that can be wirelessly recharged. And according to RONDO 2 user Tom Seabrook, it’s so small and light that “it is really easy to forget you are wearing it!”
Tom received his cochlear implant a few years ago, and recently he was one of the very first people in the UK to get RONDO 2. In this blog post, Tom tells us all about his hearing loss, and explains how RONDO 2 has revolutionized his hearing experience.
Hi, I’m Tom! I am originally from East Yorkshire although I have lived in the north west of England for 20 years now. I have three kids (aged 11, 8, and 4) who keep me active, but I also like running, cycling, and I am a children’s rugby coach and referee. I am self-employed as a solicitor dealing with property advice and disputes. This is flexible and allows time for a few other voluntary roles. On that basis I am also a director of UK Deaf Sport, part of the commercial team at the rugby club, and a footpath warden for my local parish council.
Struggling With Hearing Aids
I first noticed my hearing loss in my early 20s. It was a gradual thing, it wasn’t as if I woke up one morning and couldn’t hear. It did reach the point that it became immensely frustrating, as I was just below the threshold for an implant but really struggling even with two ultra-power hearing aids. My hearing loss was also extremely influential in my decision to give up playing rugby—unfortunately there was no such thing as Deaf Rugby in those days!
My cousin is deaf and has a cochlear implant, and it was always something that I wanted to look into. Obviously we never know what the results are going to be, but it reached the point where I didn’t feel I could realistically carry on without some kind of improvement. Technology improvements in ultra-power hearing aids had more or less ceased, as all the research funding was going into CIs.
And I was really struggling at work—in a big law firm there are always people who will try and take advantage of any perceived weakness. I had almost no residual hearing in my right ear so thought there was nothing to lose by having it implanted.
Getting A Cochlear Implant
I took the plunge and got cochlear implants. It was very strange at first, everyone sounded very sinister! It took a few days before I could understand anything, but I got an ear infection in my “good” ear which meant I couldn’t wear my hearing aid, so I had to get used to the implant very quickly. We did some rehab exercises with the hospital and at home. My eldest in particular was great. He was only eight at the time but would stand behind me asking random questions to help me practice.
At the time, I trialed both RONDO and OPUS 2 and preferred RONDO. It was great not to have anything behind my ear for once. In addition, I try to exercise a bit and my experience with hearing aids was that they got a bit sweaty and stopped working. RONDO avoided this, particularly as I have short hair.
Hearing Sound Again
Learning to hear with the cochlear implant was quite gradual, but there are a couple of milestones. First, my wife swore at me under her breath in the car shortly after switch on and was surprised when I heard her! The next one was hearing a song on the radio for the first time and recognizing it (“Does Your Mother Know” by ABBA). I can now regularly recognize songs as they come on.
Then I started to be able to understand traffic and other news on the radio in the car. It makes you sit up and notice what great diction newsreaders have. I watched Breaking the Silence Live on my iPad and recognized my audiologist’s voice straight away, even though she was out of shot and I didn’t know she was in it. There are still incremental changes every day—hearing the birds sing is something most people have probably forgotten to appreciate.
Getting Back To Normal
Overall, the experience has been absolutely life-changing. Before the implant I was angry and frustrated, I dreaded meeting new people and going to new places. I really struggled even in optimum conditions, so more or less withdrew. Since the implant, a lot of people have commented on how much my speech has improved, and how much easier I am to talk to!
My ability to communicate has increased massively and I’ve now set up my own business, which I couldn’t possibly have done before as I needed so much assistance with everyday communication.
I am working on ordinary phone use but almost everyone is happy to use Skype or Facetime and I have a secretary who can make and take calls for me if necessary.
It’s not all good though; I can’t believe how long train announcements go on, I was blissfully ignorant of them before—even though travel was very stressful as I couldn’t hear platform changes!
Discovering RONDO 2
I follow MED-EL on Facebook, and I talk about technology with my audiologist so I knew RONDO 2 was coming and was delighted to be asked to trial it. I have had it since mid-July 2018. It was a fairly seamless process, they just copied my old map across on to it.
The first thing you notice is how much lighter RONDO 2 is. It is really easy to forget you are wearing it! Because it is lighter it doesn’t need such a strong magnet which makes it ultra comfortable.
It is incredible how liberating it is not to have to carry spare batteries around and worry about them going at inconvenient times. Also, living not far from Manchester, one of the wettest cities in the UK, it is great not to have to worry too much if it starts to rain! I didn’t have the confidence to go swimming with the old RONDO because it is quite a bit bigger and heavier than RONDO 2 and I was always concerned it would get lost. But I am going to try WaterWear soon.
The Cochlear Implant Experience
Obviously, getting a cochlear implant has been wildly successful for me and has led to things I didn’t dream of before the operation. I would certainly encourage people to explore and learn as much as they can before making a decision.
I’d love a second implant, if only my health provider would cover the cost!
Want to learn more about RONDO 2? Check out everything you need to know in this post.
Find out more about how cochlear implants work and how they could help you or your child.
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