Debra breaks silence on cochlear implant
AFTER running a successful local jewellery store for more than 28 years and having been an active member of society, Debra Haigh's world became silent after she was diagnosed with Sudden Onset Deafness Syndrome four years ago.
Due to an illness, the Hervey Bay resident lost hearing in one ear completely and - after three years of suffering from this debilitating disability - she made the hard but informed decision 12 months ago to be fitted with a Cochlear Implant.
"It (hearing) just went in a moment and never came back," she said.
"After that, it aspirated a lot of other problems; I couldn't go out in public any more.
"It is one of the worst disabilities because it is invisible; people don't realise that you need two ears to hear effectively, that you need two ears to locate where noise is coming from and two ears to figure out distances.
"It does ostracise you. You just don't hear properly, you don't hear conversations very well and you get sick of not hearing and making up what you think people have said; you just end up staying home because it's embarrassing."
The decision to get the implant wasn't made lightly but Mrs Haigh said it was ultimately life-changing.
"It has been a long hard process, but a positive one.," she said.
"It took about eight months to hear language again.
"I am now more functional conversing with people and I'm now getting back into my own social network."
Now a member of the Fraser Coast Cochlear Implant Support Group, Mrs Haigh and fellow members invite people with hearing difficulties to attend a Cochlear Implant public meeting this Saturday, August 26, as part of Hearing Awareness Week.
There will be talks by Mrs Haigh, a specialist cochlear audiologist and there will be remote, real-time captioning on the big screen presentation.
"All people with all different types of hearing levels will be able to access the meeting and understand the meeting," Mrs Haigh said.
"The specialist will explain everything from what the cochlear implant is, why you need it, the people it would be beneficial for and how it all works."
Mrs Haigh will speak specifically about single-sided deafness and how the implant could be within financial reach for many people who think they may not be able to afford it.
"The cochlear used to be the pinnacle, the Rolls-Royce of hearing possibilities and reform, and people think it's too expensive and not obtainable, but it is so accessible these days if you fit the criteria.
"It's hard work, it's not an easy fix, there's no magical cure to deafness but it is a positive step that will at least give you options in life."
The meeting will be held at the Hervey Bay RSL this Saturday, from 2pm.
Entry is free.
To find out more, phone Mrs Haigh on 0448 183 326.