George & Rhona

The first time it was suggested to me to get a cochlear implant, my reaction was no way – I’m never doing that! My wife Rhona kept mentioning it over the years, but I wouldn’t give in. I wasn’t going to have this surgery to place a special device in my skull, no way!

Although I had worn hearing aids for the better of thirty years, they never really help very much. While my hearing was slowly getting worse, I guess I really wasn’t aware how much I was missing every day.

A few years ago, we received some wonderful news that we were to become grandparents for the first time. This hit a nerve and made me realize I didn’t want to miss out on the special times ahead.

I contacted the MAB-Mackay, as they were to be my liaison to get the process under way. The first thing they did was a hearing test, which I failed miserably. I insisted that no one could hear the noises in the test. I demanded Rhona take the same test, and of course it showed that she could hear perfectly. I quickly realized how serious my hearing loss was.

We were introduced to a wonderful social worker, who helped me through my concerns. We worked together to help me understand the dynamics of the operation and prepare me in the best possible way. He arranged a meeting for us with a recent recipient of the implant, which dispelled my fears and convinced me it was the way to go. I finally admitted that I was deaf, and realized that I had nothing to lose and everything to gain. I was hopeful as the MAB-Mackay submitted my application for the surgery.

In our province, the operation is performed only in Quebec City. Prior to the procedure, I had to meet my surgeon and have my hearing tested. They said I was a perfect candidate for the procedure, especially since I’d worn my hearing aids all those years. This helped keep the part of my brain that processes sound active, even the little I was hearing.

My life has changed completely. The wonderful people who worked with me at the MAB-Mackay are my super heroes. Support is key in this type of a life-changing experience. Without their help these past two years, my journey would not have been possible.

The operation was a success. There was no pain to speak of, and after one week I was able to drive and return to work. We returned to Quebec City to activate the processor (which I have to wear over my ear) with the implant. As soon as they turned it on and I heard my voice for the first time, I broke down in tears. I never realized that I didn’t know my own voice!

The process wasn’t over though. I had to spend many weeks with my amazing team at the MAB-Mackay, adjusting the processor for best possible results, and training my brain to understand the sounds I was hearing.

I was a hearing person! It felt great, but now I realized what I had been missing for so many years. They told me not to look back, but rather look forward to all the good things ahead. Now that I had a taste of hearing, they suggested I consider an implant in the other ear. This time, I needed no convincing at all. My second surgery was performed in this past spring, and I spent the following five weeks, almost every day, coming to the MABMackay for the therapy process.

I’m a new person now. I can listen to the radio in the car and hear the music. I can go to movies and watch TV with no assistance. When I’m on the golf course with my buddies or out for supper with friends, I interact and have a great time. Most important, I can hear my grandchildren speak.

A cochlear implant consists of a small electronic device that is surgically implanted into the inner ear. Unlike a traditional hearing aid, which amplifies sound, a cochlear implant functions by transforming sounds into electrical energy that stimulates the auditory or hearing nerve, bypassing the damaged part of the inner ear.

The MAB-Mackay has a supra-regional mandate to perform cochlear implant programming and technical support for the anglophone clientele of Quebec. Each year, the MAB-Mackay Foundation provides essential support to maintain this ultraspecialized expertise at our centre.