It’s still not perfect, but…

The other day I was chatting with an acquaintance and he asked how I was getting along with my cochlear implant. I told him about my success with music and he said, ‘Well your hearing must be just about perfect now.” Well, not quite.

Throughout my life I have had people exclaim ‘Oh you hear so well.’ Or ‘Now that you have new hearing aids, you should be able to hear everything.’ Well, no unfortunately I don’t and I can’t. Sometimes I will try to explain the intricacies of hearing loss and hair cells dying off. When I tried to explain to this particular acquaintance how when we lose our hearing some sounds are lost forever and that makes understanding difficult even with a cochlear implant, I could just see his eyes glaze over.

The other week I chaired a small meeting of just five people, including me and had to ask others to repeat what they were saying several times. It was an off night.

When I received my cochlear implant more than four years ago, I expected that I would be able to not only hear, but also understand the voices of neighbours when we are outside weeding or, at this time of year, shoveling snow. I do hear the sounds now, but not always the words unless I move in closer.

I am writing this ‘tale of woe’ for a few reasons. First, to remind myself that I always need to keep my expectations in check. Secondly, to remember that when people say to me, ‘You are doing so well’, they mean it in the best possible way. They are encouraged and happy for me.

And finally, to let those of you at the beginning of your cochlear implant journey know that learning to hear with a cochlear implant is very much like learning to walk and it takes patience. The first steps are exhilarating – one only needs to look at a toddler’s face as she takes her first steps. And even the next several steps are exciting as well – walking without stumbling; running, racing, climbing etc.

During my first year with the implant, I went from hearing single words to full sentences to talking on the phone – clearly big steps! And to carry the steps metaphor a bit further, some of us go beyond running for pleasure and gain the speeds of an Olympic athletic. In my case, my Olympic moment came two and a half years ago when I heard all the notes of the symphony.

I need to count my blessings and remember where I started, rather than dwell on the ‘not perfect’. A good lesson!

9 responses to “It’s still not perfect, but…

  1. I have enjoyed reading your article. Great Work!

  2. I am one day away from my cochlear implant surgery. I’ve done a lot of research but finding your blog has given me a better realistic expectation. Thank you for sharing!

  3. As always , Rosemary , clear and insightful. You give voice to others who will or are sharing your journey. And you let those of us who are not, understand and learn a bit more so we can walk with you as best we can.
    Well done and thank you !

  4. Thank you for taking us along on your journey, Rosemary. Enjoy all the many “musics” in your life. Your optimism and honesty are inspiring. Barb B

  5. Thanks Rosemary, bang on! My Olympic moment was lying beside my children, lights out, in that magic moment after bedtime stories, recalling last memories of the day. My cochlear meant my children could speak to me, and I would hear them. Something I had lost for the first half of their lives.
    Sending hugs.

  6. Hi Rosemary. Well said, thanks.

  7. Thanks so much for this update, Rosemary. So helpful, so humble, so just right!!! xoxo Heather

  8. Hi Rosemary
    Loved your blog, thoughtful lessons applicable to all of us. Thanks for a well written reminder .
    Nancy xoxo

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