My name is Anja and I was born with a severe hearing loss.
I live in Mainz, Germany, and am 29 years old. When I was 5 I lost my hearing completely. From that time on, even with the help of hearing aids, I heard almost nothing on the left side. I became dependent on lip reading and attended a school for the deaf in Frankfurt with little difficulty. In the years that followed, I decided to become more and more active in the hearing world – with my job, family, hearing friends etc. This naturally led to some problems with understanding and being understood.
It was especially difficult in groups where I always felt like an outsider because I couldn’t understand what was going on. I really enjoyed watching television or films, but had to rely on the few films that had subtitles back then. Also, there were always situations in my daily life, for example shopping, where I just didn’t understand things. I even noticed that some people would avoid conversations with me out of feelings of insecurity. That really hurt!
One day while discussing my hearing difficulties with my mother, she mentioned that she had heard about Cochlear Implantation. Even though I knew people with cochlear implants (CIs), I had never considered this to be a solution for me. It was at this point that I really began to think about the subject and to inform myself. Most CI users were excited and they gave me confidence. Of course, I also met some who didn’t have the same success. I became astounded by how little understanding there was for the subject of cochlear implant among the deaf. My friends, however, seemed really excited. They told me how wonderful it would be to hear music etc. I heard so many good things about CIs, that I came to the conclusion that “I really had to try it for myself.”
Success with a CI is really dependent on oneself, especially how committed one is to practicing listening after the operation. This also gave me confidence, because I am a fighter and I knew it just had to work for me. The possibility of better hearing was solidly in my mind and wouldn’t let go. Deep inside of me I knew that I already decided to go this direction and nothing would stop me. On the left side I really had nothing to lose, so I thought to myself, I can only really win! With these thoughts in mind, I moved forward.
To read more of Anja's Diary, click here.