Over and out

Vera Med-El cropThree years and almost a hundred posts later, it’s time to end the blog.  I started blogging in February 2016 and continued until July 2017, then had a bit of a break.  I started again in November 2017 when I’d just had my implant operation and now here we are……..

These days I’m definitely running out of ideas for things to write about so I’ve decided it’s time to stop.  I’ve loved this blog.  I’ve loved it so much I don’t want it to just fizzle out, with a post every several months, as some blogs do.  I want to call a definite halt.

So there you go.  End!  Thank you everyone – for reading, for following, and for your support and feedback.  THANK YOU.

But one last thing.  Some of you might want to hear how I’m getting on sixteen months after cochlear implant switch-on day.  Some of you might want not to miss the last episode of the film.  If that applies to you…..read on one last time.  If that doesn’t appeal…..all best wishes from me and farewell.

OK faithful people-interested-in-cochlear-implants – here goes!

The last episode of the film is now available on the Med-El website.  Here’s the link.  (You need Part 6.  And don’t forget that clicking on CC at the bottom of the screen gives you the subtitles).  They’ve also added a whole series of Snippets, which are bits of film that didn’t make it into the final cut for the relevant chapter but which nevertheless say something interesting (hopefully) about what was happening.

Chapter 6

I’m so, so grateful to Med-El.  For the implant technology of course.  There are other providers out there but I’m so pleased I chose Med-El.  I’m also very, very happy that I volunteered to be filmed through the process.  It was huge fun, it’s amazing to have a record of what was happening to me at every stage but most importantly I hope the film is useful to other people who’ve been offered an implant or are thinking that they might ask about one.  That’s the point.  There is so much confusion, and so many myths, about cochlear implants – I’m happy to be part of trying to dispel some of that confusion and show what it’s actually like.

So where am I?  What’s happening with my hearing now, sixteen months after switch-on?

Things are pretty steady-state.  No dramatic improvements these days.  Instead, I put the speech processor on when I wake up in the morning (and the hearing aid in my other ear) and I forget about it.  Largely, I forget I’m deaf.  I still AM deaf (more on this below) but it doesn’t get in the way of my life any more.

Mainly I live my days without really thinking about how bad things were before, but sometimes I still remember to pause to appreciate it.  A few weeks ago Nigel and I went to the Lake District for a day’s fell-walking; Nigel driving.  Our starting point was a two hour journey from home and we chatted and talked most of the way.  I don’t need the Roger pen these days.  Sometimes I looked at Nigel to get a bit of lip-reading help and sometimes I didn’t.  Before the implant, communication on a car journey was reduced to information briefings.  “I’m stopping for petrol”.  “We’ll stop at Tebay for a quick break”.  Towards the end of the latest journey we reminisced about that for a while and how horrible it had been; how indescribably lonely.  Nigel’s a good mimic and he does a good impression of staring-fixedly-at-the-road-saying-nothing-and-feeling-miserable.  Now we can laugh at his re-enactment of the past.  How far we have come.

Why do I say I’m still deaf?  Well, there are some things I can’t do as well as hearing people can.  I can’t follow a quick-fire conversation with a group of people at the same speed as the hearies.  Out on the fells, Nigel will call something out to other walkers yards and yards away, just to be friendly, and when they reply I don’t usually catch it.  If I’m watching the TV I have the subtitles on.  There are some programmes I can follow quite well without subtitles, but others I can’t, so I decided it was much more relaxing to accept that extra help.   At night, or when I’m in the shower, I’m reminded that my hearing is technological these days, not natural.  Without the thing on the side of my head I’m really, really, really deaf.  But these are all trivial annoyances.  Minor irritations I occasionally need to think about rather something dominating my whole existence.

And what of the good stuff??  Well, where to begin…….

Hearing not deciphering

These days my brain makes sense of speech pretty instantaneously on the whole.  It’s not shuffling options about and coming up with the most likely candidate for the translation, as I once described it.  Mainly I’m not “deciphering” – I’m “hearing”.

Nigel and I sit and chat in the kitchen and, most times, I hear him even if our backs are turned or if he moves into the next room.  Even if I don’t I can say “sorry, what was that” and get it the second time.  I’m relaxed about it.  It doesn’t feel like another knock to my self-esteem, which it often did before.  He asks ME to repeat things surprisingly often too.  Sometimes I forget that everyone does that sometimes……

Nigel says I look at people in a different way; I look at their full face instead of their lips because I’m lip reading less.  Indeed, sometimes if conditions are difficult and I NEED to lip read I’m conscious of switching to lip reading mode (“OK Vera, really noisy here, switch to lips”).

Noisy places

I’m really very good in noise.  Noisy cafes and restaurants?  No problem.  So long as I remember to breathe…….  A few months ago I went to London for the day to have lunch with three people I used to work with in the early 1980s.  I hadn’t seen them since and I was really looking forward to it.  Walking into the restaurant, though, my heart sank.  Massive room, packed to the gills, hard surfaces everywhere, glass everywhere, incredibly noisy.  I remembered that these people had never known me with hearing loss, much less severe/profound hearing loss, and I suddenly wasn’t sure I was going to be able to do it.  But what I’ve learnt is that if I stay calm, I can.  Stay calm, breathe, concentrate……and after a few minutes the background noise seems to fade away and there I am, hearing, laughing and chatting to old friends, just like anyone else.

Talks and lectures

Not everyone’s cup of tea, I know, but I love a good talk on local history or archaeology.  These days I don’t need a hearing loop.  Indeed, most times even if there IS a loop system I don’t use it – only if the speaker really mumbles.  I don’t even mind if they turn the lights off, so long as I’m relatively near the front.  Come to think of it, I could probably sit further back and still be fine – I must try.

Radio and podcasts

I listen to the radio and podcasts, sometimes by streaming the sound into my hearing aid (left ear) and speech processor (right ear) but often without needing to.  The car radio is very clear and I don’t need to.  Podcasts over the internet are easier with streaming.

The telephone

I think I’m finally cracking the telephone (some things take longer than others).  My telephone phobia was massive, an understandable result of multiple humiliating telephone disasters in the past, and I put off tackling it for months and months.  Eventually, I introduced a regime.  Every day, I’d do one small thing.  Make a very short telephone call.  Phone a friend.  Practice for ten minutes on a very good computer programme designed for the purpose (it changes the sound of the spoken word to mimic the distorting effect of the telephone, caused by there being a narrower band-width than in normal speech).

Slowly, my panic subsided and I realised I was managing quite well.  I can phone the hairdresser/optician/dentist to make an appointment.  I can have long chats with friends and family.  I usually listen on the loop system, because it’s easier, but I can manage without most times.

If it’s a call centre, though, I use Next Generation Text.  Why not?  It’s a brilliant, free service, the operators are great and it takes all the stress away, especially given that call centre staff are not the people best known for speaking clearly and at a reasonable pace.  Why make life hard?


People don’t fully appreciate, in my experience, how totally confidence-sapping severe hearing loss is.  Before I retired in 2010 I was a director of a big national housing association.  My job often involved speaking to large groups of people; sometimes staff, more often tenants and home owners.  I enjoyed it.  It came easily.

In late 2016 I was still coping with my hearing loss well enough to plan a short course for our local University of the Third Age – ten weeks of ninety minute lectures on the history of council housing.  I know quite a lot about this subject and find it fascinating.  But when my hearing took its final sudden dive in January 2017 there was no way I could contemplate it.

My speaking ability hadn’t been affected.  It was my ears that didn’t work, not my voice (obvs).  I could have set up a system to allow me to answer questions that I couldn’t hear (a friend with a good clear voice in the front row ready to repeat them or even, if all else failed, a flip chart).  I could have done it, technically, but emotionally there was no way.  My confidence was shot.  The class had to be cancelled.  I had tipped into the world of living with an entirely different personality – quiet, withdrawn and more than a little nervous of the world – when previously I’d been determined and more than a little gutsy.

After the implant I resurrected the class; it ran in the autumn of last year.  My confidence was back.  I could hear the questions.  I could chat to people in the coffee break.  I was “me” again.


Being me again is the nub of it.  Mainly, I forget I’m deaf.  I live my life.  I do the things I want to do.  How incredibly wonderful is that?








36 thoughts on “Over and out

  1. Hi Vera…I got my invite for CI assessment this week, will be in september ,then on FB an advert popped up, which spooked me lol…I have a Big Brother theory !..someone suggested reading your blog and I am so glad I did !
    Your blog resonated so pointedly with me…I felt the tears ..as my journey towards CI may just beginning ,but I am unsure.
    I have profound hearing loss bilaterally, left worst than right,background tinnitus like white noise constantly makes it worst, that was anew phenomenon about two years ago…I am a very confident,gregarious sociable person but my hearing loss over the last five years particularly has reduced me to avoiding so many social situations and certainly avoiding being on my own without my partner …which is something he has had to come to terms with..as I am the social animal dragging him along !
    I decided to retire from the NHS in march 2019, my hearing loss played a huge part in that decision, even though by then I had roger pen equipment , I felt isolated and stopped socialising then was constantly worrying about having to answer the telephone or speak to patients behind a screen, so I finished work.
    Life is easier for sure..though my personal confidence has changed enormously..this lockdown situation has actually benefited me ,weirdly,as we are not socialising at all so I don’t need to worry about my Roger pen,or making sure I can hear..my husband is totally understanding and empathetic to my hearing loss as are most of my family and friends…not everyone though in my family understand how hard hearing loss is on an individual daily…it’s tiring and sometimes so frustrating I can’t always make an effort to engage !
    anyway,mainly I wanted to say Thank you as your blog was a positive read towards CI …I will go with an open mind for my assessment and very grateful that I possibly may have a way forward that will help me in the future, best wishes ..Jan G

    1. Hi Janet

      Are you in the Facebook group for those waiting for or having had a CI? It’s very helpful and informative. Worth joining.

      I had my op this February and was switched on just before lockdown- 18 March. It’s been a revelation to me.

      The operation itself sounds dreadful but it really isn’t. Please don’t feel afraid. Once switched on and hearing you won’t believe how much better it is!

      I can now listen to streamed music from Spotify, podcasts and audiobooks too! It’s amazing.

      Work is still a bit tricky what with masks and background noise etc, but it’s better than before.

      Please don’t hesitate – it’s the best move you’ll make! Really!

      Good luck!


      1. Hello Teresa
        Apologies for a very late response to your kind reply tome last year on this thread,I didn’t leave contact details and just revisited Vera’s blog by chance when googling about post op cochlear implants !
        I had my CI on 22 March this year and switch in 22 April,so despite the pandemic I was assessed and operated on quickly as you can see at UHW Cardiff.
        It’s been ana amazing journey so far,and already I am benefitting hugely from my CI with fantastic support from the Team at Cardiff who are hugely efficient, and encouraging.
        It’s a journey for sure and needs patience and understanding …but feeling very grateful and fortunate of having being offered a way forward with a new hearing experience…I had a Nuclear 7 implant it’s all going well for me ,
        Best wishes ,Thank you for responding ,Janet G.
        P.s I didn’t know about the Facebook group, I had belonged to a deaf aware as Fb group ,but recently closed my Facebook account as spending too much time on social media!

    2. Hello Janet. I really hope you get the go ahead. If you do, say yes!
      It’s nearly three years now for me and still wonderful. There are some things I still can’t do. I’m still deaf. But I got my life back and I got “me” back. There’s nothing more wonderful than that. It had hurt so much to feel the person that was “me” slipping away. The other week I waiting outside the bank (lockdown queue to get in) and started a conversation with the man next to me in the queue, a very good two metres away. We shared a grumble and a joke and it was just an ordinary, fleeting moment. But that sort of encounter had become impossible. I still notice. I still love it.
      All the very best. Fingers crossed.

      1. Hi Vera,
        Apologies for the lengthy absence in replying to you, I got my CI on 23 March this year and switch on 22April it’s being an amazing journey thus far.
        Despite the pandemic ,I have been dealt with at Cardiff UHW with timely assessments pre and post op and as you can see was operated in within 6 months of my assessment…long live the NHS!
        Everything is going well for my, I had a nucleus 7 implant ,my experience has been very positive and I am reaping the benefits tenfold.
        As you said ,I can converse now in ways that was impossible previously ..the car particularly ,I couldn’t even hear one to one on a car journey previously,now I can hear and converse without lip reading .
        The Television no longer needs subtitles, though I prefer to have them on as it’s less tiring .
        Group conversations are hugely improved but can still be challenging,particularly if people talk over each other or interrupt ..my brain still needs to decipher and catch up!
        Things have improved also with the mask situation and I am now confident to have a conversation without having to ask people to remove their mask for lip reading.
        As you rightly said,I have to remind people I will always be profoundly deaf and am deafer now than I was without using my processor but feeling so much more included and regaining my former confidence it’s amazing.
        I am going to revisit your blog and journey later with my processor on and enjoy sharing your positive journey .
        Best wishes for continued health and happiness on your new hearing journey!

      2. Hello there Janet! This is such a delight to read. I’m SO glad it’s all worked out so fantastically well for you. I’m now at nearly four years in. Most of the time I just live my life like I did before my very-deaf days, but sometimes something prompts me to remember again how lucky I am.

        This morning I read your message whilst out planning a walk I’ve offered to lead for the archaeology group I’m a member of. Leading a walk – now there’s something I couldn’t have envisaged doing when things were bad. On the way I met a chap from the village and we walked together for a couple of miles, chatting away. I remember being filmed for the cochlear implant story, sitting on a bench on the hillside, saying that I liked just going out with my dog, because I didn’t have to speak to her. And there I was, on the same hillside, chatting away without even thinking about it. Except I DID think about, because I’d just read your comment, so thank you for reminding me just how far things have come since the dark days.

        I miss blogging sometimes, especially when I get comments like yours.

        All the very best then. Vera xxx

      3. I’ve just revisited some of your videos ,you and your husband spoke so eloquently and honestly about your hearing and CI journey it reminded me of what was and the emotional attachment that many people fail to understand about hearing loss.
        I’ve had tears today,reminding myself how fortunate I am ,I am still learning and I am sure will continue to for a while ..my confidence is growing and my once hugely independent spirit is re emerging…like getting on a train alone,being able to hear the announcements in the platform and on the journey made me emotional, going into a shop alone and being able to hear the shop assistant wearing a mask !the first time I heard and recognised the oven timer alarm I haven’t heard for about 7 years all reduced me to tears !
        Music is my next big goal and then hopefully,theatre …
        Simple pleasures but major goals ,thank for responding..I shall share the videos and blog with my family and friends,most have been a big support and excited for my CI journey.
        Stay safe and well

  2. Hi Vera

    I’ve been meaning to respond to your final post and then thought it would be too late …. so here goes. I can only echo what others have said. It has been so meaningful to read about your experiences and it has all been very relevant to me. I have not felt so alone, knowing that there are others out there with very similar feelings and experiences. I finally did what I should have done 14 years ago and went for some counselling – and also cried … lots! A cochlear implant isn’t on the horizon but I now feel a little more confident about the possibility should my hearing deteriorate further.

    Thank you so very much and best wishes

    1. Hi Jennifer. I’m so pleased you found a counsellor and that you found the experience helpful. Sometimes I think we are so obsessed with soldiering on, making the best of it, not crying over spilt milk etc etc that we forget to acknowledge that something awful has happened and a good cry is absolutely appropriate. Maybe if we were all more open about how devastating the loss has been there would be more understanding? Maybe it’s a campaign for the future? Maybe we should lobby Action on Hearing Loss to do it?
      Anyway, all best wishes and many thanks for writing in.

  3. Dear Vera,
    I guess I’m about where you were with hearing in 2017 before the ‘dip’. I’m coping, ‘gutsy’ but missing more in daily life than I like to admit. I’ve just (yesterday) got a Roger pen because earlier in the week, walking down a busy road in York, my son in law said ‘why are you getting annoyed when I ask you questions? You can hear if you try’. He should know better. Where to start!
    Looking for tips on using the Roger I came across your blog. I laughed. I felt validated. I loved your sense of humour. Then I followed the film on the cochlear implant. Any further hearing loss and I will be with you post 2017. And I’m afraid. (In a gutsy way of course). Your film has given me renewed hope that there may be life after hearing aids can do no more.
    I am thrilled for you and for Nigel at the success you’ve had with the cochlear implants. He’s not the only one with a sense of fun and he must be so glad to have you back.
    Thank you so SO much for sharing this with other ‘deafies’. It has meant an enormous amount to me.

    1. Hello Jackie. Great to hear from you and thanks for writing. I’ve said this before but sometimes I’ve sat here, typing away, not knowing whether what I was feeling was resonating with anyone – and then people like you pop up, and it makes it all feel worth while for me too. So thanks.
      Don’t forget that qualifying for a cochlear implant is now much easier than it was in 2017 (or indeed when I “failed” the tests for an implant in 2015). You might not be ready for it yet (in terms of eligibility and/or in terms of your own readiness to take the leap) but be aware of it as a possible option.
      I so relate to your saying you’re afraid, but there ARE options now, and they are getting better all the time. Hang on in there Ms Gutsy!

  4. Hi Vera. It won’t be the same without reading your occasional post on your blog but am sure I will be reading the odd article written by you in the Action on Hearing Loss magazine.
    Best wishes,

    1. Quite possibly! There’s another one in the pipeline, anyway. Thanks for all your support for the blog over the months, Pat. Stay well. Look after yourself. Vera.

  5. Hi Vera,

    I was very moved by your last blog. I can’t say how delighted I am for you that your implant has initiated such a transformation.

    I have followed your blogs with keen interest. I have found it very supportive and consoling to read of experiences so similar to my own. I have a severe hearing loss and I do struggle in many situations. I realise that it may get worse and so felt for you very much when you experienced this. But I also take comfort from the fact that you have found a way through.

    Your humour, honesty and great ability to convey both in writing has served all of your ‘followers’ very well.

    Thank you so much, and I wish you well for the future.

    Will you leave your blog online? I do hope so, as I often recommend it on to friends and family who have hearing loss. I also recommend it to friends who find it difficult to understand what the experience of hearing loss involves.

    All the best,


    1. Hello Ursula.

      Great question. I should have said that I’m intending to leave the blog online for the foreseeable future. It’s been such a big part of me I couldn’t bear to see it disappear, not least so I can have something to look back on. My drafts in Word just aren’t the same.

      You know, I find it very moving that I’ve been sitting here, at the laptop in the corner of the kitchen, pouring my heart out into the ether, pressing “publish” …….. and then people in a similar situation have found it and, even better, found that it resonates with them in some way. Very best wishes Ursula, and thanks for saying what you just did.


  6. Vera, after reading your final post, I am left quite emotional. You touched a nerve when explaining about how you can now chat to friends in a restaurant, and your closing phrase – how incredibly wonderful!

    I have followed your journey for over two years and have been able to relate to many parts of it. I am sure many people will see similarities in your hearing loss story and their own. I am also sure you will have helped many people by writing about some of the challenges that come with hearing loss – making us feel less alone in our situations. And, of course, I am sure your story of getting the implant has inspired so many, and has brought a lot of hope to people.

    Above all, I have found your words and story very interesting.

    I won’t forget how you recommended my blog to your readers when I had just started writing – that meant so much to me.

    Thank you for your continued support, and your wonderfully informative and witty writing.

    Wishing you all the very best,
    A fellow Yorkshire lass, Carly

    1. I’ll miss your comments Carly. But I’ll still have your fantastic blog to follow, which will keep us in touch. As I’ve said before, your blog taught me that not everyone’s hearing loss follows the same trajectory as my own (and indeed that of almost everyone with hearing loss I’ve ever met). I’m continually in awe of how you manage to do everything you are doing in another country, with another language. That’s two foreign languages – Spanish and distorted-English-through-hearing-loss. Keep writing (you are SUCH a good writer) and look after yourself. Vera.

  7. My sincere thanks Vera, Nigel and Izzy for everything written and conveyed.

    Many times your thoughts have mirror imaged my own. You have a huge talent for being able to eloquently express the facts and emotions associated with hearing loss and life.

    Your Med-El videos say so much about implants and hope.

    Wishing you both every happiness as you move forward.

  8. A fine ending to this wonderful blog. It has given me a lot of insight into hearing loss and the possibilities a cochlear implant offers for someone who once could hear quite normally.

  9. Thanks so much Vera for your inspiring blog which you put me onto when I was so down about my own hearing loss, now sorted with second BAHA. Well done for your courage and honesty all these years.

    1. And just think – we wouldn’t have met up again had it not been for our respective deafnesses! Looking forward to seeing you in August. Love, Vera

  10. Hearing and being you again – that’s far more wonderful than hearing people can possibly imagine!

    Thanks for sharing Vera – I’ve got my second hearing test tomorrow- first under the new guidelines- I hope to goodness I’ll then be following you on that CI journey back to being me too!! X

      1. I will – it’s this afternoon and I’ve decided to attend as I can’t bear to lose the appointment ( booked months ago) but I’ve got a horrible cold and laryngitis- so I’m not sure if they’ll do it today or not? I’ll just have to see….

  11. Have found your blog interesting. But so glad like me that you have found the cochlear Implant has given you life back! I am 20 months on, and hearing birds, having decent conversations etc is great after gradual years of struggling to hear. No more struggle! And the beauty of it if things get too noisy I can turn the sound down! Josie

    1. Hi Josie. I was always so encouraged to find you were just a little way ahead of me in the process and doing so well. Take care of yourself. Vera.

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