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Date: 24 October 2020
Hearing implant patient stories: Linda Mitchelmore
Like everyone being considered for a cochlear implant, I was asked my expectations of its effectiveness on a scale of 1 – 10. I set just about everything at 6 or 7.
At that stage my hearing had all but gone completely. I couldn’t hear my own voice or anyone else’s. So to be able to read aloud and hear a child’s voice seemed like a miracle to me.
But a miracle is what I got. I now have a grandson, Alex, and a granddaughter, Emily, and reading stories is a happy part of our lives. Well, as I writer, I would say that!
I began writing short stories about two years before I was implanted as a way of communication. I could have ‘conversation’ in my head and on the written page. It was an enjoyable – if lonely – occupation.
But all that changed post-implant. It was hard at first – I was just sledge-hammered with sound – but I persevered. I decided that a huge amount of NHS money had been spent on my operation and equipment so I would make the most use of it as I possibly could.
The following year, I attended the Romantic Novelists’ Association annual conference. I met people whose names I knew from the covers of best-sellers and my world began to open up.
I was subsequently asked to submit a short story for the Romantic Novelists’ Association 50th Anniversary Anthology. For the Anthology’s launch I went to London and sipped champagne and nibbled canapés in a room filled with writers and their guests at the Cavalry and Guards Club – a far cry from the days when I wouldn’t go anywhere in case I made a fool of myself by not understanding what was being said to me.
Since that anthology launch, I’ve given library talks on creative writing. It’s still a miracle to me that I can hear my own voice, so to be able to pitch to an audience is a double miracle.
Family life, post-implant, has changed for the better, too. I used to have long and mostly silent car journeys with my husband because I couldn’t hear what he was saying against the engine noise. Luckily, I’m implanted on my right, so car (and bus and train) journeys are much more enjoyable these days.
But for me – as wonderful as my new writing career is – it’s the little things that make me give thanks every day for my implant and the fantastic teams at Queen Elizabeth and Selly Oak hospitals who made it happen, and continue to support me.
Bird song – oh, what a joy! The rustle of newspapers, bacon frying, bracelets jangling on my wrists – so many sounds that make me smile.
Pre-implant, as a profoundly deaf person I know I looked miserable – dim and grim as I struggled to understand the simplest things and be part of the world.
Now, I smile more. Even when I’m on my own in town I smile – traffic? Love it! Ambulance sirens? Bring them on!
And now I’ve got another reason to smile. At the time of writing, I’ve just been offered a contract on my first novel – proving you’re never too deaf or too old (I’m 64) to start a new career! This will mean that I will be expected to do book-signings and meet the public – something I would have run a mile from pre-implant.
I think, all in all, my expectations of what an implant would do for me have been spot on.
Linda's first novel, "To Turn Full Circle", was published by Choc Lit Publishing in June 2012. The novel is available from Amazon.co.uk in paperback and Kindle format.
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