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  • Writer's pictureThe Hearing House

We are welcoming adults to our programme

We’re excited to be welcoming adults with cochlear implants to our new centre in January 2018.

The Hearing House has been providing cochlear implant services to children and teenagers for the last 20 years and in 2018 we will be welcoming adults to our programme.

Until that date, anyone over the age of 19 was seen by the University of Auckland, but thanks to a partnership between the two organisations, they too will become part of The Hearing House family.

All cochlear implant users who live from Turangi to the top of the North Island, and four adult staff from the university, will be coming together under one roof at our new centre in Greenlane, Auckland, where The Hearing House will be providing life-long services.

The centre will be where magic happens – for babies who will be hearing for the first time, through to adults who will regain their hearing thanks to the wonders of cochlear implants.

Former all-rounder cricketer Lance Cairns is among those who can attest to the life-changing difference cochlear implants can make.

Lance suffered severe hearing loss and did not seek help for many years. It wasn’t addressed until his late 30s, and hearing aids proved “imperfect”.

"I regret not following it up until my mid-30s. One of the hardest things was losing interest in music, and trying to hear among strangers is an issue. You have to rely on your partner, and it’s not good for the family."

During a match between New Zealand and Australia at the Melbourne Cricket Ground in 1983, Lance says he “went quite well” – hitting an astonishing six sixes in 10 balls. But he didn’t have a clue about the thunderous roars from the 88,000-strong crowd.

“I was pretty lucky that my sport let me play with the hearing loss as hearing wasn’t a biggee.

“But it did cost me on the field of play. I don’t know how many wickets I lost by not appealing when the batsman knicked one. All the guys behind the wicket would shout a big appeal and me as the bowler didn’t hear a thing and the umpire takes note of this and turns the appeal down.”

When he was 60, Lance received a cochlear implant. The improvement has been dramatic.

“I don’t have to worry about going out now – I can take part.”

Lance left school when he was 15 and worked at the freezing works. It was noisy, working without headphones where they washed the carcasses with an air-pressure hose.

“By 18 I was experiencing hearing loss. But I didn’t get hearing aids and at 23 I was playing cricket for New Zealand full time. So all the talk was about cricket, and I only needed to hear bits to pick it up. When we had a team meeting, Jeremy Coney would take me aside and tell me what was discussed.

“I didn’t talk about it, but I didn’t want to go out or mix with people. It wasn’t until after I finished cricket, when I was about 37 that I went to see someone about a hearing aid.

“That period from my 30s to almost 60 was tough – hearing aids are not perfect. It was just amplified noise. My hearing was getting worse, and I was lucky that people knew who I was – finding work would have been much harder otherwise.”

Lance says the biggest loss for him was when his cricket career ended.

“I couldn’t stay involved in the game.”

“I had a great cricket brain and could identify talent very easily but was left off selection panels as telephones were used a lot and of course the phones were off limits for me.

“Work wise I had to rely on mates and kept a wage this way. This worked for me into my 50’s then my hearing was too bad and I went onto a benefit.

“Then somebody mentioned cochlear implants. I hadn’t heard of them, because your hearing loss has to be so bad before you’re eligible.

“At 60 I was assessed as suitable and it was a whole new life that started.”

Within 3 months of Lance’s cochlear implant being switched on he was named a New Zealand cricket selector.

“Unless you’ve suffered, it’s hard to understand what the difference is: to go into a room of people and follow the conversation; not to be afraid to go to a function, or talk on the phone.

“No praise is high enough for what the cochlear can do.”

Lance is the father of New Zealand cricketer Chris Cairns. Chris’ daughter Isabel, 6, is also deaf and has cochlear implants in both ears.

She was diagnosed as profoundly deaf when she was just one-month-old and received hearing aids. These provided little benefit so she received cochlear implants when she was five months old.

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