Graeme Clark Scholarship winner, Isabelle on family and friends,
I would not be where I am without the amazing support of my family and friends. Growing up with a Cochlear™ implant became the norm for my older sister, my parents and myself. There were moments when my father forgot who was the deaf child in the family, picking up my sound processor, saying: “Whose is this?”
Having a Cochlear implant comes with the responsibility of remembering to take batteries everywhere. My family would always leave the house asking me the same question: “Do you have batteries with you?” I often remember to bring batteries with me, or may have spare ones in the car or my handbag, but there have been many occasions where I have forgotten them. This included Christmas Day, leaving me with no option but to not hear all day. I could not help myself but laugh. After all I just relaxed on a pool floaty in the water sunbaking in silence.
I have the option to switch on and off my Cochlear implant, which is a great advantage for me, and not so much for my family… particularly for my sister. When my sister and I were in a fight, I would turn off my processor and just walk away so I do not have to listen to her angry voice. This made her furious. Or I would trick her, and act as if I have turned it off when really I haven’t. You could say I was quite a sneaky child. But, I don’t do this anymore.
Might be something I’ll do to my future husband though… watch out.
Even when travelling on the bus to work or uni, people would listen to music while I choose to listen to silence. It’s nice having a choice.
Growing up, I have made some wonderful friends who make me smile and laugh, and make me feel very comfortable with myself. They are very considerate by repeating if I hadn’t heard something said. They ensure that I am sitting on the right side of the table so my Cochlear implant is closest to them, allowing me to hear better. Even when walking, my best friend makes sure that she is on my left side, it has become such a habit for her that she even walks on the left side of her friends who have normal hearing.
As my current sound processor (which is the Freedom®) is not waterproof, when I go to the beach I have it take it off. This is not an issue as luckily I have learnt to lip read. Last month when I was in the Caribbean Sea with my best friend, we had no trouble having a conversation in the water. But she says that she often forgot I couldn’t hear and continued talking to me when I wasn’t facing her or was underwater.
But yes, when I am at a restaurant or at a party, it can be difficult hearing conversation, and it can get frustrating. Although I think how blessed I am to have a Cochlear implant in the first place. I have definitely learnt that those who are willing to help you, are those who are worth having in your life. I do not surround myself with people who are not willing to help me. I am forever grateful to those who are part of my life.