In which I order egg on toast

A very good book about someone learning to hear with a cochlear implant is Hear Again, by Arlene Romoff.  In it the author talks about the first time she heard someone behind her in the supermarket say “excuse me”.  Of course, for years and years people in the supermarket would have been asking politely that she move out of their way but she would have ignored them.  She would have been completely oblivious that anything had been said at all.  So that first time she heard the words and moved smoothly out of someone’s path was a hugely significant moment.  “That’s it”, I thought to myself excitedly before the operation.  “That’s what I want; someone to say excuse me in Tesco, from behind my back, and I can hear them.”  So far, nobody has (not to my knowledge anyway……) but I’m having quite a few of my own significant moments.  Here are three.

A couple of weeks ago I was very late for the first week of a class I’ve signed up for.  There was a confusion about the venue and, by the time I arrived at the right place, I was twenty five minutes late.  I could see through the window that the speaker was in full flow and that all the seats at the front of the room were taken.  A few months ago I would have turned round and gone back home but, no, I went in, apologised quietly for being late, took a seat at the back of the room and HEARD EVERYTHING.  It wasn’t a very big room, but I could follow relatively easily what the speaker was saying.  No loop.  No Roger pen.  Just implant and me (and hearing aid in the other ear).

Last weekend, I was in a noisy café with Nigel, his brother and my sister-in-law.  We all looked at the menu then Nigel said to me “what are you having then, love?”  Over time, Nigel (and sometimes close friends) have taken to ordering my food for me when eating out, with my full and wholehearted support.  It never stopped feeling very odd, and rather demeaning, but it was a whole lot better than the almost inevitable mess I would get into ordering my own.  So I told him I was having egg on toast and a coffee.  But when the waitress arrived she looked at me first.  I hesitated for a fraction of a second then I gave her my order.  She asked some follow-up questions and I gave perfectly appropriate answers.  Eureka.  I can order my own poached eggs.  It doesn’t sound very much, does it?  But how I loved it.  It became the reason for another poke at Nigel.  He is getting used to me saying “did you see that – I heard her?” or “did you notice – I followed all that tricky conversation?”  This time I poked him on the way out of the café afterwards and said “did you see THAT?  I ordered my own food!”  You have to laugh.

OK. Third example. Before the operation I thought a lot about what might happen and decided that I’d be satisfied with the outcome if I could only get back to the level of hearing I’d had just a few years ago.  I was deaf then but life was fine and I could cope with most situations quite easily.  The other night Nigel and I were talking about this and he said, as he has a couple of times recently, that he is starting to forget how bad things had got.  He just speaks to me and I hear.  Then he said “I think your hearing is better now that it’s been in living memory actually”.  We had a good laugh about how bad his memory is, but that was a very significant moment too.

Finally for today, Patricia Breslin left a comment a couple of weeks ago, asking when you were going to get a picture of me with the new thing on my head, so here we go.

Side view
Front view

I’m very happy.  See the smile.  The book I mentioned in the first sentence (Hear Again by Arlene Romoff) was published in 1999.  1999 is a long time ago in cochlear implant terms, and indeed Arlene actually had her implant in 1997.  It’s interesting to read the author’s description of her speech processor (the bit behind my ear). It was something the size of a cigarette packet attached to her belt, and she had wires linking it to a microphone clipped to the front of her clothing.  How technology progresses……..




14 thoughts on “In which I order egg on toast

  1. Hi Vera

    Your experience in the café was another step in your journey. I hope you are looking forward to more.

    Best wishes


    1. Hello Ian. Indeed. I feel incredibly lucky that things are getting better all the time instead of inexorably getting worse. All best wishes. Vera

  2. Hi Vera, your progress sounds fantastic, it must make socialising so much better and hopefully you are not so tired at the end of the day. As your hearing with background noise is so much better will your Roger pen now be redundant

    1. Hi Patricia. I used to use the Roger pen in the car when Nigel was driving and to follow a speaker at a talk if there wasn’t a loop. I don’t need it for either of those situations now but it might come into its own again when I move on to try the telephone. We’ll see……..

  3. Hi Vera,
    It’s nice to see the big smile on your face.
    That must have been a wonderful experience being able to hear in a lecture room and being able to hear the waitress. How did you find the background noise in the restaurant?

    1. Hi Neil
      Background noise is MUCH better. I checked with Nigel about the cafe and he described it as noisy, with coffee machines going, lots of chatter etc. In the past I would have found this impossible (indeed I might well have insisted that we look for somewhere else) but, post-implant it was very manageable. I was aware of concentrating more to hear but I COULD hear. Other background noises are similarly much better. Nigel doing the washing up, or emptying the dishwasher, used to drive me spare. The noise was just unbearable. But now, although those noises are loud, they don’t bother me in the same way. I don’t know why this is, especially since I am wearing my normal hearing aid in the other ear, and the settings on that haven’t been changed. So far as the implant is concerned, the particular model markets itself as having noise reduction as standard, plus the settings are adjusted every hospital visit to the maximum volumes I find tolerable at every pitch. Both those things would help…..but I still have my hearing aid in…..a mystery. The good thing is I can sit in the same rooom as my husband whilst he clatters pots and pans!

  4. Reading your latest post brings warmth to us all on a cold January day.

    Looking at your “after” photograph I immediately thought of the “before” photo I found this week accompanying your profile of “My invisible world “ published in the Action on Hearing Loss magazine. (I had been sorting out the cupboards!)

    Your lovely smiling face looked happy “before” and now it looks even happier “after”!

    I had removed your article from the magazine and read it several times because your words resonated so much with my acquired hearing loss.

    Many times I have thought “yes, that is so true Vera!”

    Thank you for your insight.

  5. Wow Vera! To some the kind of things you describe being able to hear and cope with now might not seem like much – but to us, we know just how much they mean!!

    To be able to follow a class properly from the back!!

    Food orders – it’s so easy to become passive isn’t it? The bit I hate is when a waiter reels off the specials and I can’t follow them – as I’m vegetarian too it’s important I know what the dishes are and don’t just take pot luck!! My partner is fortunately very good at filling me in but it’s so much nicer to be able to do it yourself!!

    It sounds as though you’re doing fine and judging from the pictures it’s not a problem wearing it either.

    Thanks for keeping us updated with how it’s going- if I’d ever pass the criteria with my upside-down hearing loss I’m certainly feeling more encouraged to have one!! X

    1. Thank you Teresa. Yep, small things with massive meaning. I only hope you don’t all get sick of my cheeriness and the telling of the various miracles. And I SO hope the criteria get changed so more people can benefit.

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