Hello, my name is Christopher Rushe and I am 45 years old. I was born hearing, but became deaf at 25 from a condition called otosclerosis. It is a condition that affects the stapies bone and prevents transmission of sounds. I had a surgery to try and regain hearing in my right ear, but I knew even then that it was only a matter of time before I would be "deaf again" as this surgery is not a permanent fix. I say "deaf again" like that because the truth is I've been deaf since I lost my hearing at 25.
I lost hearing for the second time by my 40th birthday. It was around this time that I was unable to maintain work and ultimately lost my car, and my home. I was homeless for approximately 2 years. Being homeless is challenging to say the least, being homeless and deaf is scary. I met some people in the deaf community while homeless who helped me get back on my feet. I found work and was able to regain a sense of what it is to be human again. I had a home and with work was able to save and get a car.
I moved forward with Cochlear implant surgery and learned very quickly that this is hardly hearing as I had once experienced. It is mechanical and with nothing filtered it often just sounds like noise. When I am in a quiet environment speaking with one person I can usually make out most of what is being said, but rely on lip reading to fill in the gaps. Unfortunately, this is not the typical scenario I find myself in. Restaurants, Malls, work and even events with friends and family are busy and holding conversations with several people is nearly impossible. Add to this the pain and discomfort from the device which range from irritation on the ear from the device itself up to intense headaches from the deluge of sound that is being blasted into my head. I wear the Cochlear as little as I can get away with simply because the pain is so great on most days. At this time there is a recall on my implant and I may need to have it removed.
NEADS is training a Service Dog for hearing for me, and I am very grateful for them. This will allow me greater freedom; I would not to be forced to wear my implant. The dog will be trained to alert me to sounds that need my attention or even someone calling my name! Very cool! There are SO many ways this dog will change my life for the better, but what I'm looking forward to the most is feeling safe in my own house. Not wondering if someone is coming in, knocking on the door or if emergency services needs to contact me for any reason. I will also be able to sleep, sleep peacefully and not worry if something will happen while I'm asleep and cannot be alerted.
Thank you for any help, and thank to to the people at NEADS