By Bev Jordan
PETER MADDEN from Beaumont Hills was 59 when he started losing his hearing a few years ago. The hearing in his left ear went first and then he couldn’t hear at all. “They gave me hearing aids at first but after 6 months it wasn’t helping at all,” he said.
Peter was a tour coach driver but because of his hearing loss, he was unable to do his job.
“I lost my job … I lost all confidence and I started to feel useless,” he said. From being a sociable person he became almost a recluse before receiving a bilateral Cochlear implant at Norwest Private Hospital by Dr Vanaja Siva Ear, Nose and Throat Surgeon.
Peter said having both implants done has enabled him to enjoy life again.
“When I couldn’t hear I just withdrew completely, I couldn’t go out with my family or friends. I can now converse with people.”
As a keen caravanner and kayaker he can also appreciate the sounds of nature again.
“It’s great to hear the birds,” he said. “I can hear the rain and I can hear the surf when I walk near the ocean (with my wife).”
He’s also back driving tour coaches again and enjoying life.
MERVYN THOMPSON from North Richmond lost his hearing after stumbling over long grass and hitting his head on his property last year.
The 84-year-old farmer sustained a skull fracture and immediately lost his hearing in both ears.
His wife Gloreen said her husband was seeing a farrier attending two of their horses when the accident happened.
“He hit the left side of his head and he lost his hearing straight away,” she said.
He was seen by Dr Siva who recognised he was in a bad way and urgently needed a cochlear implant to restore the lost hearing.
She operated to remove bone fragments from his ear and installed the cochlear implant.
Mervyn told the Hills to Hawkesbury Community News he is feeling 100 percent better.
“I am glad I had it done,” he said. “I can talk to people now.”
Gloreen said before the implant people would have to write notes to her husband. The couple run cattle on their property and Mervyn is back on the ride-on mower and looking after the farm.
“It took a while to get used to it but he is happy now, “ she said. “He likes hearing the news.”
Fortunately their farm is on the high side of North Richmond so hasn’t been impacted by the flooding.
Dr Siva’s passion for ear and hearing restoration surgery has motivated her to establish a multi-disciplinary program at Norwest Private Hospital.
She told the Hills to Hawkesbury Community News that the growing need for Cochlear hearing implant services in the area is only expected to increase with the expanding ageing population.
“Hearing loss is a silent disability that affects not just the individual but their families and their friends”, said Dr Siva who is urging locals to keep an eye out for friends and loved ones who may be experiencing hearing loss and encourage them to seek help.
She says early identification and treatment of hearing difficulties can improve quality of life, relieve them from deafening social isolation and help to lower the risk of cognitive decline.
“Hearing loss has been identified as the single most modifiable factor that contributes to cognitive decline associated with dementia in the latest research. Even mild hearing loss has a significant impact”, she said.
“Sadly, only around ten percent of people who would benefit from a Cochlear implant have one. This means there’s a vastly unmet need for people in our community struggling daily to communicate with loved ones,” she added.
“There has been a significant advancement in hearing implant technology over the past 40 years. We can now provide this cuttingedge hearing and ear technology to restore the vital sense of hearing through our Hearing Restoration programs,” Dr Siva said.
Unlike hearing aids, which make sounds louder, Cochlear implants do the work of damaged parts of the inner ear (cochlea) to provide sound signals to the brain.
Surgical hearing restoration options include cochlear implantation, bone anchored and middle ear devices which achieve useful hearing when conventional hearing aids are ineffective or cannot be used due to various ear conditions.