I remember that Sunday morning six years ago that changed my life.
Just like every day, the first thing I did when I get out of bed was reach for my hearing aid that had been helping with some partial hearing loss. I couldn’t hear anything. I replaced the battery and put the device back in my ear. No improvement.
I was devastated.
Since I live alone and could no longer hear, a good friend made appointments for me with my ENT doctor and accompanied me for support. After running a few tests, I was given the painful news. I had gone completely deaf.
The trip home was terrible. I don’t know how I kept it together, and I didn’t want to break down in front of my friend. All the while, a million thoughts were running through my head.
I’ve always enjoyed an active, independent life. I’ve been living alone since my husband passed away, and I enjoy my social time with friends and neighbours. But now that I couldn’t hear…how would this affect my quality of life? How would I understand the pharmacist and doctor? How would I keep in touch with my friends? How would I call for help if needed? I wouldn’t even be able to know when the doorbell rang to receive a delivery.
I felt vulnerable and isolated. I wondered, is this how it all ends?
This is how the first miracle happened.
My doctor suggested I contact the MAB-Mackay to learn about something called a cochlear implant. It was here that I met Ariane (an audiologist) and Ashanta (a social worker), who welcomed me so warmly and calmed my fears. For the first time since I lost my hearing, I felt hope.
Ariane talked to me about a promising technology called a cochlear implant, a small electronic device that could be inserted behind my ear with the potential to restore some of my hearing. Ashanta then explained each step of the processes leading up to the surgery and what comes after. Since I wasn’t very good at lip-reading and really wanted to understand all the details, she wrote down all of the answers to all my questions on a note pad, which I kept to reflect on and still have today.
Initially, just thinking of all that was involved was overwhelming. Being 89 years old, I was nervous about going to the hospital for surgery. Even though I’ve always been a positive person, the risks of an operation on my head – especially at my age – were scary.
With Ashanta’s encouragement and the support of my close friends, I decided to take the leap. I told myself I had nothing to lose.
The very special people at MAB-Mackay were with me throughout it all, giving me the confidence I needed. They helped me with the detailed paperwork and prepared me for all the appointments in Quebec City (the only place in the province that performs this procedure). They reassured me every step of the way, preparing me and my friends, so that we knew exactly what to expect.
The entire process took almost two years. During this time, the staff at the MAB-Mackay supported me in managing without hearing, helping me to maintain my independence safely. They installed an environmental alert system in my home that notified me with flashing lights when the phone, doorbell and smoke alarm sounded. They gave me a TTY phone and taught me how to make and receive calls. They also provided me with counselling support to help me get through all the challenges I faced in the journey leading up to the surgery.
As the day of my surgery approached, I started to get excited about the thought of hearing the voices of my dear friends and my family in Germany again.
I remember how kind the surgeon and his team were. The nurse touched my cheek and spoke to me gently as I drifted off into sleep. When I woke up a few hours later, she smiled at me and told me the surgery was a success.
I came back home for a couple of weeks to recuperate, and then returned to the hospital so they could activate the implant.
Another miracle – I could hear again!
For the next three months, I went to the MAB-Mackay three times a week to work on exercises to train my brain to my new way of hearing. I listened to sounds at different pitches, and they made adjustments to the external part of my implant. I adapted quickly, and was even able to hear well on the phone once again!
I’m forever grateful to MAB-Mackay, and to donors like you, for giving me a new lease on life. I’m currently 95 years old, and I never take for granted my renewed gift of hearing.
Anne, 95 years old
So happy to be hearing again